Sports Idioms

Sports idioms are a fun and creative way to express ourselves in everyday conversations. They are often used by sports enthusiasts and commentators to describe certain situations in sports, but their meanings have evolved to be used in various contexts beyond sports.

List of Sports Idioms and Sayings

  • (The) Ball’s in Your Court
  • (To Not Have) a Horse in This Race
  • (To Throw Someone a) Curveball
  • Against The Run Of Play
  • Ballpark Figure
  • Come Out Swinging
  • Get in Shape
  • Get the Ball Rolling
  • Give Someone a Run for Their Money
  • Hang Tough
  • Hat Trick
  • Heavy Hitter
  • Hit It Out of the Park
  • Hit the Ground Running
  • Jump Through Hoops
  • Kick Ass, Kick Butt (1)
  • Kick Ass, Kick Butt (2)
  • Monday Morning Quarterback
  • Nail-Biter
  • No Holds Barred (usually adj., often hyphenated)
  • On Deck
  • One-Two Punch
  • Out of Left Field
  • Par for the Course
  • Pick Up the Slack
  • Pipped to the Post
  • Play Ball
  • Play Hardball
  • Raise the Bar
  • Roll With the Punches
  • Rookie Mistake
  • Second Wind
  • Set the Bar (Too) High
  • Sink or Swim
  • Slam Dunk
  • Step Up One’s Game
  • Step Up to the Plate
  • Sticky Wicket
  • Take a Deep Dive (Into)
  • Take a Hike
  • Take the Gloves Off
  • Throw in the Towel
  • Toe the Line
  • Touch Base
  • Tough Sledding
  • Up to Scratch
  • Victory Lap

Sport Idioms and Sayings | Images 1

List of 45+ Commonly Used Sport Idioms in English

Sports Idioms with Meaning and Examples

Baseball Idioms

List of baseball idioms and sayings with meaning and examples.

Ballpark Figure

  • Meaning: A rough estimate or approximation.
  • Example: We don’t have the exact numbers yet, but I can give you a ballpark figure of how much the project will cost.

Hit It Out of the Park

  • Meaning: To do something exceptionally well or to be very successful.
  • Example: We were worried about the new product launch, but our sales team hit it out of the park and exceeded our expectations.

Touch Base

  • Meaning: To make contact or to get in touch with someone.
  • Example: Let’s touch base next week to discuss the progress of the project.

Note: This is from the game of baseball.

Football Idioms

List of football idioms and sayings with meaning and examples.

Hat Trick

  • Meaning: To achieve three successes in a row.
  • Example: Our team won three games in a row this week. It was a hat trick!

Against The Run Of Play

  • Meaning: To do something that goes against the expected outcome.
  • Example: The underdog team won the game against the run of play.

Nail-Biter

  • Meaning: A very close and exciting game or competition.
  • Example: The championship game was a nail-biter until the very end.

Sports Idioms & Phrases

(The) Ball’s in Your Court

  • Meaning: It’s your turn to take action or make a decision.
  • Example: I’ve given you all the information you need. Now the ball’s in your court.

(To Not Have) a Horse in This Race

  • Meaning: To not have a personal interest or stake in a situation.
  • Example: I don’t have a horse in this race, so I’ll let you make the decision.

(To Throw Someone a) Curveball

  • Meaning: To surprise someone with something unexpected or difficult.
  • Example: The new project requirements threw us a curveball, but we were able to adapt and overcome.

Note: This is also heard as just “throw someone a curve”.

Sports Idioms & Phrases (C-G)

list of sports idioms and sayings that start with C and G.

Come Out Swinging

  • Meaning: To start something with enthusiasm and determination.
  • Example: Let’s come out swinging and make a strong first impression at the conference.

Get in Shape

  • Meaning: To prepare or improve oneself for a task or challenge.
  • Example: We need to get in shape for the upcoming project deadline.

Get the Ball Rolling

  • Meaning: To start something or to initiate an action.
  • Example: Let’s get the ball rolling on this new project and start brainstorming ideas.

Give Someone a Run for Their Money

  • Meaning: To provide strong competition and challenge someone’s abilities.
  • Example: The new team gave the defending champions a run for their money in the championship game.

Note: This idiom comes from horse racing.

Useful Sport Idioms in English | Image 2

Useful Sport Idioms in English | Image 1

Sports Idioms & Phrases (H)

list of sports idioms and sayings that start with H.

Hang Tough

  • Meaning: To persevere and remain strong in the face of adversity.
  • Example: We need to hang tough and push through this difficult project.

Heavy Hitter

  • Meaning: Someone who is very influential or powerful.
  • Example: Our CEO is a heavy hitter in the industry and has a lot of connections.

Hit the Ground Running

  • Meaning: To start something quickly and effectively.
  • Example: We need to hit the ground running on this new project and make progress right away.

Sports Idioms & Phrases (J-K)

list of sports idioms and sayings that start with J and K.

Jump Through Hoops

  • Meaning: To go through a lot of difficult and time-consuming tasks or procedures.
  • Example: We had to jump through a lot of hoops to get approval for the new project.

Kick Ass, Kick Butt (1)

  • Meaning: To do something extremely well or to be very successful.
  • Example: Our team really kicked ass at the last trade show.

Kick Ass, Kick Butt (2)

  • Meaning: To overcome a challenge or to defeat an opponent.
  • Example: We need to kick butt and win this game to advance to the playoffs.

Note: To “kick someone’s ass” is slightly different, meaning to physically beat someone badly in a fight. Definition 2) may also be used as an adjective, “kick-ass”: That car has a kick-ass engine. Both “kick ass” and “kick butt” are somewhat crude; “kick ass” is more so.

Sports Idioms & Phrases (M-N)

list of sports idioms and sayings that start with M and N.

Monday Morning Quarterback

  • Meaning: To criticize or second-guess someone’s actions after the fact.
  • Example: It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback and criticize the coach’s decisions after the game is over.

No Holds Barred (usually adj., often hyphenated)

  • Meaning: Without any restrictions or limitations.
  • Example: We’re going to have a no-holds-barred brainstorming session to come up with new ideas.

Note: The original sense of the phrase referred to wrestling.

Sports Idioms & Phrases (O)

list of sports idioms and sayings that start with O.

On Deck

  • Meaning: To be the next in line or next up to perform a task.
  • Example: The marketing team is on deck to present their new campaign strategy.

One-Two Punch

  • Meaning: A combination of two things that work well together.
  • Example: Our new product launch was a one-two punch of great design and functionality.

Out of Left Field

  • Meaning: Something unexpected or surprising.
  • Example: The new project requirements came out of left field and caught us off guard.

Note: This is similar to “out of the blue” and “out of nowhere,” but “out of left field” often carries a suggestion of something strange.

Sports Idioms & Phrases (P)

list of sports idioms and sayings that start with P.

Par for the Course

  • Meaning: Typical or expected.
  • Example: “I wasn’t surprised when our team lost the game. It’s par for the course with our current roster.”

Pick Up the Slack

  • Meaning: To take on extra responsibility or work harder to make up for someone else’s shortcomings.
  • Example: “Our star player is out with an injury, so the rest of us need to pick up the slack and step up our game.”

Pipped to the Post

  • Meaning: To be narrowly beaten or defeated.
  • Example: “We were so close to winning the championship, but we were pipped to the post by our rivals.”

Play Ball

  • Meaning: To begin or start something.
  • Example: “Alright, everyone, let’s play ball and get this game started!

Play Hardball

  • Meaning: To act aggressively or ruthlessly in pursuit of one’s goals.
  • Example: “The negotiations were getting nowhere, so we decided to play hardball and push for a better deal.”

Sports Idioms & Phrases (R)

list of sports idioms and sayings that start with R.

Raise the Bar

  • Meaning: To set a higher standard or expectation.
  • Example: “Our team’s recent success has raised the bar for what we expect from ourselves in future games.”

Roll With the Punches

  • Meaning: To adapt to and deal with unexpected challenges or setbacks.
  • Example: “Our opponent’s strategy caught us off guard, but we were able to roll with the punches and come out on top.”

Rookie Mistake

  • Meaning: A mistake made by someone who is inexperienced or new to something.
  • Example: “I made a rookie mistake by underestimating the competition and not preparing enough.”

Sports Idioms & Phrases (S)

list of sports idioms and sayings that start with S.

Second Wind

  • Meaning: A renewed burst of energy or motivation.
  • Example: “I was feeling exhausted, but I got my second wind and was able to finish the race strong.”

Set the Bar (Too) High

  • Meaning: To set an unrealistic or unattainable standard or expectation.
  • Example: “Our coach has set the bar too high for us to realistically achieve, and it’s causing a lot of stress and pressure.”

Sink or Swim

  • Meaning: To either succeed or fail completely.
  • Example: “Our new hire will have to sink or swim in this high-pressure job.”

Slam Dunk

  • Meaning: A sure thing or a guaranteed success.
  • Example: “With our star player back in action, this game should be a slam dunk for our team.”

Step Up One’s Game

  • Meaning: To improve one’s performance or effort.
  • Example: “I need to step up my game if I want to make the starting lineup for the next game.”

Step Up to the Plate

  • Meaning: To take on a challenge or responsibility.
  • Example: “Our team captain stepped up to the plate and rallied the team when we were down.”

Sticky Wicket

  • Meaning: A difficult or tricky situation.
  • Example: “Our team is in a sticky wicket with only a few minutes left on the clock.”

Note: This idiom comes from the game of cricket. It’s often used with the preposition “on”-”on a sticky wicket.

Sports Idioms & Phrases (T)

list of sports idioms and sayings that start with T.

Take a Deep Dive (Into)

  • Meaning: To thoroughly investigate or analyze something.
  • Example: “We need to take a deep dive into our opponent’s tactics in order to come up with a winning strategy.”

Take a Hike

  • Meaning: To go away or leave.
  • Example: “I told the heckler in the stands to take a hike and stop distracting our team.”

Take the Gloves Off

  • Meaning: To stop being polite or holding back and start being aggressive or confrontational.
  • Example: “We need to take the gloves off and really fight for this win.”

Throw in the Towel

  • Meaning: To give up or surrender.
  • Example: “After a series of losses, our coach decided to throw in the towel and focus on rebuilding for next season.”

Toe the Line

  • Meaning: To follow the rules or conform to expectations.
  • Example: “Our team needs to toe the line and play by the rules if we want to avoid penalties and fines.”

Tough Sledding

  • Meaning: A difficult or challenging situation.
  • Example: “Our team is facing some tough sledding with a string of tough opponents coming up.”

Sports Idioms & Phrases (U-V)

list of sports idioms and sayings that start with U and V.

Up to Scratch

  • Meaning: Meeting the required standard or expectation.
  • Example: “Our team’s performance was up to scratch, and we were able to secure the win.”

Victory Lap

  • Meaning: A celebration or recognition of a successful accomplishment.
  • Example: “After winning the championship, our team took a victory lap around the field to thank our fans and celebrate our