Sport Idioms | List of Sports Idioms With Meaning and Examples

Sport Idioms: There is a list of phrases and idioms related to sports that we come across. These are used to describe actions in sports and describe a certain situation in life. These sports phrases are used daily by us.

However, sometimes it is a bit confusing. So, here is a list of sports idioms for you to increase your knowledge of English. This article is supported with idioms related to sports with meanings and examples so that it is easier for you to understand how to use them.

Enrich your Vocabulary by practicing the English Idioms that are commonly used in everyday conversations and understand their actual meaning.

Name of Sports Idioms

List of Sports Idioms

Meaning and Examples of some commonly used Sports Idioms

A Fighting Chance

Meaning: A slim chance of succeeding or overcoming a difficult circumstance.

Example: To give his marriage a fighting chance, David agreed to attend marriage counseling with his wife.

Across The Board

Meaning: Applying to or impacting every component or individual in a group or spectrum of things.

Example: Some senior staff is dissatisfied that the new dress code extends to everyone across the board.

All Hands On Deck

Meaning: Everyone willing to assist with a problem or a request for those people to assist.

Example: Your grandma visits tomorrow, and the house is still a shambles—I need all hands on deck to assist me with cleaning!

At This Stage in The Game

Meaning: At this (that) point, stage, or place in a process or action

Example: I can’t offer you an update at this stage in the game since I still need to work on your car.

Bat A Thousand

Meaning: To be successful in a single activity or several aspects of one’s life

Example: This week, I’ve been batting a thousand—I earned an A in my exam, I got the lead for the school play, and I won the poetry contest!

Beat Someone To The Punch

Meaning: To accomplish or get something before someone else.

Example: I was going to present the concept to the boss today, but one of my coworkers beat me to the punch.

Block and Tackle

Meaning: The essential skills, tasks, or positions required for something to function.

Example: You don’t even know how to submit a sample report? That’s merely blocking and tackling, Tom.

Sports Idiom 1

By A Nose

Meaning: By a very small or thin margin

Example: They’re about to lock the gates! We appear to have missed the flight by a nose.

Call an Audible

Meaning: To alter one’s judgment or course of action in reaction to new or previously unanticipated reasons

Example: I had intended to take that road, but there is currently too much traffic. I believe I should call an audible and use the highway instead.

Call The Shots

Meaning: To direct the course of a situation or plan from a position of authority.

Example: Mom calls the shots for Thanksgiving dinner, so make sure you gain her okay for any dish you want to bring.

Carry The Ball

Meaning: to take the lead in completing or carrying out a task or undertaking

Example: After completing that critical initiative, the boss asked me to carry the ball for our next major project.

Come Out Fighting

Meaning: To compete with or defend someone or something vehemently or violently.

Example: The developer came out fighting at the town hall meeting after hearing so much criticism of his proposed construction project.

Dive in Headfirst

Meaning: To start or start something swiftly, energetically, and without apprehension.

Example: I know you’re apprehensive about starting school, but all you have to do is jive in headfirst and do your best!

Dive Right into

Meaning: to begin doing something with zeal

Example: Jack was not ready to dive right into a relationship.

Down and Out

Meaning: Destitute or otherwise lacking in resources

Example: Many homeless folks have been down and out for years, with no hope of finding work or permanent housing.

Down for The Count

Meaning: Being defeated, ruined, or defeated, or being on the verge of being defeated, ruined, or defeated.

Example: Their company is so in debt that I believe it’s safe to say they’re down for the count at this point.

Down to The Wire

Meaning: Until the very last second.

Example: Negotiations were heated, but we could reach an agreement on a new contract down to the wire.

Drop The Ball

Meaning: To make a blunder.

Example: I believe she dropped the ball when she opted to leave that excellent internship.

Sports idiom 2

Drop The Gloves

Meaning: to participate in or prepare for any conflict, quarrel, or confrontation in which the participants’ actions or thoughts are unrestrained or undiluted

Example: According to a spokesperson, the video game company is ready to drop the gloves to battle internet piracy.

End Around

Meaning: a solution to an issue that avoids dealing with the matter directly

Example: We’re not technically authorized to hire outside contractors, so we’ll have to find an end-around.

First Past the Post

Meaning: The first person to achieve a specific goal.

Example: I’m extremely proud of my daughter—she was the first to pass the post in this morning’s event.

Flood The Zone

Meaning: To put forth or supply a huge amount of anything.

Example: His opponent flooded the zone with advertising that was detrimental to his reelection chances.

Front Runner

Meaning: The person or object who is most likely to receive something.

Example: Amanda is the clear front-runner for the job—overqualified, she’s, to be honest, and has a fantastic attitude.

Full-Court Press

Meaning: A defensive approach in basketball where the defensive team puts pressure on the offensive team across the entire court.

Example: We were behind by 15, so we implemented a full-court press and generated turnovers.

Get A Second Wind

Meaning: To feel revitalized after a period of exhaustion.

Example: I had meant to stop working at 9, but I got a second wind and kept going.

Get into The Full Swing

Meaning: At the pinnacle of any action.

Example: After the lockdown phase, it will take some time for the students to get into full swing with the offline classes.

Get Off the Hook

Meaning: Pardoned, vindicated, and set free

Example: Sam was first suspected of stealing money from the safe, but he got off the hook after security camera evidence revealed that it was someone else.

Get The Ball Rolling

Meaning: to start anything, usually a process

Example: I believe that now that I’ve got the ball rolling with the driving lessons, it will be easier for me to grow comfortable behind the wheel.

Give A Run for Their Money

Meaning: to make it difficult for (someone) to win a game or contest by playing hard

Example: It is now or never. The underdog team needs to give them a run for their money.

Give One’s Best Shot

Meaning: Make one’s best or most sincere effort.

Example: Jim has been waiting for this opportunity for so long that I am sure he will give his best shot.

Go for an Early Bath

Meaning: To abandon anything in which you are committed and leave before it is completed

Example: The referee ordered both the players to go for an early bath after conferring with his assistance.

Go Overboard

Meaning: In some situations, to behave without restriction.

Example: Is it possible that I went overboard with the Christmas decorations? I’m concerned that I purchased enough Christmas lights to illuminate Times Square.

Go The Distance

Meaning: To stick with an activity or objective until it is completed.

Example: Do you think this team has what it takes to go the distance and win the championship?

Go to The Mat

Meaning: To give someone or something one’s undivided attention

Example: We are adamant that she is correct in this situation, and we are prepared to go to the mat for her in court if needed.

Have Someone in Your Corner

Meaning: To have someone who backs you up, protects you or helps you.

Example: It’s been fantastic to have such a well-known individual in my corner during this trial.

Heavy Hitter

Meaning: A person who is exceedingly successful, significant, or influential.

Example: In the area of finance, John is a heavy hitter. Many others have attempted to emulate his accomplishment.

Hit Below the Belt

Meaning: To inappropriately target one’s flaws or vulnerabilities.

Example: I know she wants the promotion, but she hit me below the belt when she told the boss about my troubles.

Hit Something Out of the Park

Meaning: Doing or performing something well

Example: I’m quite confident I knocked the test out of the park.

Hurler On the Ditch

Meaning: A person who provides uninvited criticism or advice on something they are not actively involved in.

Example: All of these folks on social media criticizing the political process, many of whom I’m sure don’t vote, are, in my opinion, hurlers in the ditch.

In A League of One’s Own

Meaning: Completely superior to others of the same or similar kind.

Example: The defending Super Bowl champions continue to play as if they are in a different league of their own.

Jump at Something

Meaning: To accept or seize something quickly, usually an opportunity.

Example: When our manager announced that she was leaving the firm, I jumped at the chance to replace the position.

Jump Down Throat

Meaning: To scold or yell at someone harshly, often unexpectedly.

Example: You don’t have to jump down my throat just because I admitted to being there.

Jump for Joy

Meaning: To be thrilled or delighted over something.

Example: When I saw that I’d achieved an A on that hard history test, I virtually jumped for joy.

Keep One’s Eye On the Ball

Meaning: To remain intensely concentrated on something.

Example: I was able to keep my eye on the ball and put my academics above all else, so I graduated in three years.

Keep The Ball Rolling

Meaning: To ensure that something, usually a process, remains in motion.

Example: If you keep rolling the ball with your driving lessons, you will undoubtedly become more comfortable behind the wheel.

Knock for Six

Meaning: To shock or overwhelm someone, especially if it happens abruptly or unexpectedly.

Example: The news of my father’s untimely demise knock me for six.

Lead with One’s Chin

Meaning: to act or express something boldly and without remorse

Example: The venture capitalist is being probed for fraud and money laundering. He is known for leading with his chin when it comes to securing investments.

Learn The Ropes

Meaning: to acquire or comprehend the fundamentals of doing or performing a job, task, or activity

Example: We have a few high-priority projects that need to be completed right away, so you’ll have to learn the ropes on your own.

Make The Cut

Meaning: To fulfill the requirements required for an application to be successful.

Example: You may have an impressive résumé, but you won’t make the cut if you don’t have excellent interview skills.

Meet One’s Match

Meaning: To come into contact with someone comparable to or greater to one’s talent, skill, etc., especially in a competitive situation.

Example: Many students who are used to being the smartest student in the school are taken aback when they meet their match in college.

Monday Morning Quarterback

Meaning: A person who acts as if they have all the answers to an issue, especially in retrospect, while having no experience in that field.

Example: When political issues are discussed on social media, it appears as everyone has turned into a Monday morning quarterback.

Move The Goalposts

Meaning: To change the rules or limits to fit one’s demands or aims, making it more difficult for others to succeed, keep up, or achieve an opposing goal.

Example: I despise arguing with people like that. When you begin to wear down their argument, they simply move the goalposts on the entire issue!

No Holds Barred

Meaning: Having no constraints or restraints

Example: Her no holds barred interview with the president has made headlines around the country.

No Sweat

Meaning: It is not tough to handle or deal with.

Example: The fix should be no sweat—replace the belt, and you’re done.

On The Ball

Meaning: Attentive, well-informed, and fast to act.

Example: I can’t believe Molly finished that report so quickly—always she’s on the ball.

On The Ropes

Meaning: on the verge of loss or ruin

Example: Following the terrible release of their latest product, the company has been on the ropes.

Out for The Count

Meaning: Unconscious or in a deep, unconscious slumber.

Example: Mike’s friends offered him so much alcohol on his 21st birthday that he was out for the count by 10 p.m.

Plain Sailing

Meaning: Smooth, unbroken, and simple advancement, movement, or development.

Example: Now that we’ve solved that issue, the project should be plain sailing from here on out!

Pull One’s Punches

Meaning: To pretend to hit someone without making any or significant physical contact.

Example: I understand you’re trying to make the situation realistic, but please pull your punches next time!

Pull Out All the Stops

Meaning: to perform a task with the greatest amount of effort or ability

Example: The corporation pulls out all stops for the CEO’s retirement celebration.


Meaning: Exhausted or exhausted to the point of dizziness or incoherence.

Example: After studying for tests for two days in a row, I’m feeling a little punch drunk.

Race Against Time

Meaning: To act swiftly to complete a task in a short period.

Example: It was a race against time to extinguish the fire before it spread to nearby properties.

Roll with The Punches

Meaning: To adjust to setbacks, challenges, or adversity to manage or cope with their impact on one’s life

Example: It was difficult to lose my work, but I’ve simply been trying to roll with the punches until I can get back on my feet.

Run Interference

Meaning: To take steps to prevent or avoid specific issues or circumstances, usually on behalf of another person.

Example: I ran an interception at my party so that my recently divorced buddies wouldn’t have to interact with each other.

Saved by The Bell

Meaning: To save or spare someone from trouble or tragedy through a last-minute intervention.

Example: The fire alarm went off just as he was about to start ranting at me, and I was spared by the bell.

Score an Own Goal

Meaning: To earn a point for the opposition team by scoring on one’s own goal.

Example: After Thomas scored his own goal late in the second half, we were never able to reclaim the lead.

Set The Pace

Meaning: To determine the speed, level of competence, or quality standard

Example: The new salesperson outperformed everyone else’s weekly averages, setting the pace for the entire organization.

Sink or Swim

Meaning: To be successful straight away or to fail right away.

Example: The teacher expects you to have already learned all of the necessary material, so you’ll have to sink or swim from the start.

Stay Ahead of the Game

Meaning: gaining or retaining a competitive advantage in a circumstance

Example: My term paper isn’t due until next week, but I’d like to stay ahead of the game and finish it today.

Take A Dive

Meaning: To pretend to get knocked out by one’s opponent in boxing. In soccer (football), to fall to the ground and make an extravagant display of grief and anguish after colliding with an opposing player.

Example: The defending champion, who is heavily favored to dominate the match against the challenger, was accused of diving into the championship match last Saturday.

The English player took a dive!

Take It On the Chin

Meaning: To face adversity, difficulty, setback, or defeat with stoic courage or poise.

Example: I know you’re upset about the loss, but just take it in on the chin and practice harder tomorrow.

Take The Bull By The Horns

Meaning: Approaching, confronting, or dealing with a problem or tough circumstance directly and confidently.

Example: You’ve been moaning about being unemployed for far too long—the time it’s to take the bull by the horns and find work.

The Ball Is in One’s Court

Meaning: It is one’s responsibility to take additional action.

Example: They invited you; therefore, the ball is now in your court. Do you want to go with them?

The Gloves Are Off

Meaning: Usually used to indicate a situation in which people are becoming increasingly aggressive or tenacious.

Example: The gloves are now off, and Mom and Aunt Gertrude are yelling at each other in the kitchen.

Throw in The Towel

Meaning: to give up on a project

Example: I’ve been working on this book for almost a year, and I’m nowhere near finished. I guess I’m ready to throw in the towel.

Throw One’s Hat into The Ring

Meaning: To declare that one will be competing against others

Example: The governor, as expected, thrown his hat into the ring for the presidential race next year yesterday.

Under The Wire

Meaning: At the last possible moment.

Example: On the due day, I submitted my application at 11:59 p.m.—just under the wire!

Win by A Nose

Meaning: To succeed or defeat someone in something by a razor-thin margin.

Example: We barely won by a nose, but we obtained the conviction we needed.

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