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
- A Fighting Chance
- Across The Board
- All Hands On Deck
- At This Stage in The Game
- Bat A Thousand
- Beat Someone To The Punch
- Block and Tackle
- By A Nose
- Call an Audible
- Call The Shots
- Carry The Ball
- Come Out Fighting
- Dive in Headfirst
- Dive Right into
- Down and Out
- Down for The Count
- Down to The Wire
- Drop The Ball
- Drop The Gloves
- End Around
- First Past the Post
- Flood The Zone
- Front Runner
- Full-Court Press
- Get A Second Wind
- Get into The Full Swing
- Get Off the Hook
- Get The Ball Rolling
- Give A Run for Their Money
- Give One’s Best Shot
- Go for an Early Bath
- Go Overboard
- Go The Distance
- Go to The Mat
- Have Someone in Your Corner
- Heavy Hitter
- Hit Below the Belt
- Hit Something Out of the Park
- Hurler On the Ditch
- In A League of One’s Own
- Jump at Something
- Jump Down Throat
- Jump for Joy
- Keep One’s Eye On the Ball
- Keep The Ball Rolling
- Knock for Six
- Lead with One’s Chin
- Learn The Ropes
- Make The Cut
- Meet One’s Match
- Monday Morning Quarterback
- Move The Goalposts
- No Holds Barred
- No Sweat
- On The Ball
- On The Ropes
- Out for The Count
- Plain Sailing
- Pull One’s Punches
- Pull Out All the Stops
- Race Against Time
- Roll with The Punches
- Run Interference
- Saved by The Bell
- Score an Own Goal
- Set The Pace
- Sink or Swim
- Stay Ahead of the Game
- Take A Dive
- Take It On the Chin
- Take The Bull By The Horns
- The Ball Is in One’s Court
- The Gloves Are Off
- Throw in The Towel
- Throw One’s Hat into The Ring
- Under The Wire
- Win by A Nose
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.