Sport Idioms

In English there are so many idioms related to sport that we might need a few posts to cover enough of them. This comes as no surprise, as sport is closely connected with health, competition and lifestyle. Thus, even if you are not into sports, you will find the list of idioms we have prepared useful. The idioms can be used in various situations and settings. So, read on and boost your vocabulary…

BASEBALL IDIOMS

  1. To hit a home run – to do something very successful: The question was unexpected but I hit a home run with it – I said exactly what the interviewer wanted to hear.
  2. To strike out – to not be successful at something: I tried to get a phone number from her, but I struck out again.
  3. Minor-league – not as important, powerful, or successful as others of the same kind: She’s just a minor-league celebrity.
  4. Major-league – important, large, or having a lot of influence: She’s a major-league movie star.
  5. Heavy hitter – a person or company that has a lot of power, especially in business or politics: His economic team is minor-league compared with the heavy hitters.

SURFING IDIOMS

  1. To catch the wave – to act quickly in order to use an opportunity, especially an opportunity to do something new: Microsoft caught the wave of affordable personal computing.
  2. To ride a wave of something / to ride on a wave of something – to enjoy the advantage of or continue to benefit from a situation that is successful, fortunate, trendy, etc.: Darts can ride a wave of popularity.
  3. To surf the Internet/Net/Web – to spend time visiting a lot of websites: I spent hours surfing the Web, searching for information.
  4. To hang in theresaid as a way of telling someone to not give up, despite difficulties: It’s so hard to learn another foreign language. – Just hang in there. 
  5. To get the hang of something – to learn how to do something or use something: You’ll quickly get the hang of the program.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL IDIOMS

  1. To blow the whistleto bring something to the attention of other people in order to stop something bad from happening: The company stopped using certain chemicals only after some workers blew the whistle on it.
  2. Whistle-blowera person who tells someone in authority about something illegal that is happening, especially in a government department or a company: Edward Snowden is a famous whistle-blower.
  3. To start/get the ball rolling – to make something begin or happen: Let’s get the ball rolling on the meeting.
  4. Keep your eye on the ballgive your attention to what your are doing: Keep your eye on the ball as long as you are in this cruel business.
  5. To play it safe to be careful and not take risks: It’s probably OK to eat this kind of fish raw, but it’s best to play it safe by cooking it.
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Sometimes you need to play it safe.

HORSE RACING IDIOMS

  1. Dark horse a person who is not expected to succeed in or unexpectedly wins an election, race, or some other kind of competition: She may be the dark horse here.
  2. Hands down – definitely: Mary is hands down the nicest person I know.
  3. To win hands down – to win without much effort: I’m sure we’d win the race hands down.
  4. To hit your stride to become familiar with and confident at something you have recently started doing: I didn’t really hit my stride till my second marriage.
  5. To play the ponies – to make bets on the outcomes of horse races: I used to play the ponies. Then I ran out of money.

TENNIS IDIOMS

  1. The ball is in your court – it is your responsibility to decide what to do next: We’ve made him an offer but now the ball is in his court.
  2. Sweet spot – a particular point, area, or range where something will be most effective or beneficial: We have a job that’s in your sweet spot.
  3. To call the shots – to be in a position of control or authority: Who let him call the shots?
  4. In full swing – at the height of activity: The season must be in full swing.
  5. To draw the line – to say that you will definitely not allow or accept something: She knows where to draw the line.

BASKETBALL IDIOMS

  1. Slam dunk – something reliable or unfailing: Angelina Jolie is always a slam dunk.
  2. On the rebound – while still distressed by the ending of a romantic relationship: When you’re on the rebound, your emotions can outweigh your common sense.
  3. Give it your best shot – do it as well as you can: I can’t do anything to stop you, so give it your best shot.
  4. Take a shot at it – try it: I’ll take a shot at outrunning you. 
  5. To go full-court press on somebody – to attack someone in all areas: Let’s hit him with the full-court press.

IDIOMS IN CONTEXT

My brother started his own business recently. He hoped to hit a home run, but unfortunately he struck out. The problem is there are too many heavy hitters in his industry, too much competition. He really tried to catch the wave, but it had already been caught. I told him to hang in there, but anyway he failed to get the ball rolling. Perhaps, it’s better to play it safe and be an employee if you are not sure business is your sweet spot. On the other hand, working for someone isn’t always a slam dunk. And some people just love to call the shots. Actually, I’m glad my brother took a shot at business. Now he knows how hard it may be. I hope he’ll get the hang of what he decides to do next. But he needs to surf the Net first. A little research will never hurt.

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Just hang in there…

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