If you find sports entertaining and you are looking for related phrases, then you’ve come to the right place. This list of sports phrases and sayings was compiled with care to help you gain a better understanding of sports jargon.
However, we’re going to throw you a curveball, because while you may understand what these sports phrases mean within the sport itself, what about in the more general sense? If you’re unsure, don’t worry, we’ve got your bases covered. From baseball to basketball, we’ll go over the meanings of various expressions, so that by the end of this page, you will hopefully be a pro. Now, get ready to swing for the fences with our sports sayings list
What Are Sports Sayings?
Sports sayings are idiomatic phrases that are commonly used in the context of sports. They describe or explain specific actions, events, or outcomes that take place during a sporting event. Some of these phrases are utilized by players, commentators, and even viewers alike.
Certain sports phrases have become so popular that they have become a part of our everyday vocabulary, reaching heights beyond the sports world. In other words, these popular sayings and expressions have adopted a broader meaning that goes past their initial context and that extends to situations or actions outside of sports.
15 Common Sports Phrases
Keep your eye on the ball as you learn about the most common sports phrases that are often used by people in their daily lives:
Sports Expressions – Baseball
1. Cover all bases
Taking the necessary steps to ensure that all possibilities have been taken into account.
- Example: I wanted to ensure that I covered all bases for this upcoming job interview.
- Similar: Cover all angles, leave no stone unturned
2. Home run
A term used in baseball when a batter hits the ball over the fence. Figuratively, it can refer to an accomplishment that was a great success.
- Example: Our new product was a home run for the company.
- Similar: Hit the jack pot, slam dunk
3. In the ballpark
A general amount that is more of an estimate than being correct or exact.
- Example: I’m not sure how much the labor and parts will cost, but it’s in the ballpark of $200.
- Similar: Close enough, in the neighborhood, in the range
4. Knock it out of the park
To do something exceptionally well.
- Example: I practiced a song for hours on end and knocked it out of the park when I performed on stage.
- Similar: Ace it, hit a home run, nailed it
5. Off base
To be wrong, inaccurate, or mistaken about something.
- Example: Your assumption that I don’t like chocolate is off base.
- Similar: Barking up the wrong tree, mistaken, out of line
6. Out of left field
Something that happens unexpectedly, without any kind of warning.
- Example: He was talking to his friends when out of the blue two cats went running by.
- Similar: Caught off guard, out of nowhere, surprisingly
7. Play hardball
Pursuing a goal relentlessly without making any concessions.
- Example: When negotiating prices with potential buyers at my garage sale, I played hardball with them.
- Similar: Fight tooth and nail, play rough, be tough
8. Right off the bat
Immediately or done in a hurry without delay.
- Example: When I walked into the gym, right off the bat I knew this was going to be hard.
- Similar: At the outset, right from the start, right out of the gate
9. Swinging for the fences
Setting your sights on an ambitious goal, one that involves a lot of effort to achieve.
- Example: Susan has special guests coming over later, so she plans to swing for the fences with meal preparation.
- Similar: Aim high, go all out, put it all on the line
10. Throw a curveball
An action, situation, or event that was contrary to what was expected.
- Example: Our plans were through a curveball when it started pouring outside.
- Similar: Pull a fast one, shake things up, taken by surprise
Sports Sayings – Basketball
11. Buzzer beater
In addition to its sports usage, this phrase can be used to refer to an activity or task that is completed at the last minute.
- Example: Time was running out on my exam, but I made a buzzer beater when I finished it with mere seconds to spare.
- Similar: Close one, down to the wire, photo-finish
12. Fast break
A quick and concentrated effort to move forward, with the aim of pushing towards a goal.
- Example: During the final stretch of the race, the runner made a fast break for the finish line.
- Similar: Blitz, full steam ahead, in the passing lane
13. On fire
Performing exceptionally well at something, with a high level of energy or success.
- Example: The comedian was on fire with his joke delivery, as heard by the audience’s intense laughter.
- Similar: Crushing it, in the zone, on a roll
A basketball term that can be applied in a broader sense to describe a swift recovery from a failure or setback.
- Example: The wind blew over his fence, but he rebounded and built a new one.
- Similar: Bounce back, pick yourself up, second wind
15. Slam dunk
Reaching an accomplishment or goal with great success.
- Example: Her new song was a slam dunk with fans; they loved it.
- Similar: Home run, knock it out of the park, nailed it.
Sayings That Come From Sports
These popular sayings about sports are frequently heard in and out of their respective games. They are used to describe a number of situations or circumstances in a creative way. So as not to delay things further, here are 20 common sports sayings that will have you running down the field:
Sport Sayings – Boxing
1. Down and out
Refers to a person is defeated or experiencing difficult times.
- Example: After losing the job he held for a decade, he was down and out.
- Similar: Between a rock and a hard place, hit a rough patch, rock bottom
2. Down for the count
Someone that looks to be defeated and/or is unable to continue, a reference to a physical knockdown.
- Example: The team I’m rooting for looks to be down for the count, hopefully they recover.
- Similar: On the ropes, out for the count, throw in the towel
3. Hit below the belt
Using unfair tactics to gain an advantage, or inappropriate comments made towards another person.
- Example: Her words against her opponent were considered a hit below the belt.
- Similar: Crossing the line, dirty tactics, low blow
4. On the ropes
Being in a difficult situation that looks difficult to recover from.
- Example: His stomach was on the ropes after he ate far too much dessert.
- Similar: Back against the wall, hanging by a thread, in a tight spot
5. Roll with the punches
To adapt to difficult or unexpected situations, or being resilient in the face of challenges.
- Example: Bob rolled with the punches when his car broke down and bought a bike instead.
- Similar: Go with the flow, ride the storm, take it in stride
6. The old one-two
A fast combination of punches in boxing, or a powerful mixture of two things.
- Example: After I finish cooking food, I sprinkle salt and pepper on it, which are the old one-two seasonings in my kitchen.
- Similar: A great blend, strong combo
7. Throw in the towel
To give up, surrender, or to quit a task or activity.
- Example: Having burned yet another pizza, he threw in the towel and ordered one instead.
- Similar: Admit defeat, call it quits, pack it up
Sport Phrases – Horse Racing
8. Down to the wire
A tense situation where the outcome is decided only at the last minute.
- Example: The football game was down to the wire, with the winning touchdown being scored in the final moments.
- Similar: Neck and neck, on the edge of your seat, photo finish
9. Hands down
Indicates that something is easily the best, without any doubt in mind.
- Example: The cake at this bakery is hands down the best in town.
- Similar: By far, no contest, without question
10. Neck and neck
A situation in which two competitors are so evenly matched that it’s difficult to discern who is ahead.
- Example: The two pole vaulters were neck and neck with their high jumps.
- Similar: Down to the wire, tied, too close to call
11. Photo finish
A close situation in a contest that is decided in the final moments.
- Example: With the two racers being tied, this is going to come down to a photo finish.
- Similar: Evenly matched, nail biter, on the edge of your seat
12. Right out of the gate
Something that happens right at the start of a process or activity.
- Example: As soon as I heard the opening notes of the song, right out of the gate I knew it would be special.
- Similar: From the start, straight out of the box
Sports Idioms – Golf
13. Below par
In a wider context outside of golf, this phrase means worse than average or below expectations.
- Example: Both teams performed below par, disappointing everyone watching.
- Similar: Falling short, lackluster, subpar
14. Hole in one
An ideal result or a perfect achievement.
- Example: The chef’s recipe was a hole in one with the judges, earning him first place.
- Similar: Aced it, home run, touchdown
15. In the rough
Having to deal with challenges, difficulties, or obstacles.
- Example: Accidentally breaking my glasses put me in the rough for a few days.
- Similar: In a tight spot, in deep water, swimming upstream
16. On the green
Advancing towards a desired goal or reaching a point where a person or team can operate effectively.
- Example: Our business is finally on the green this month, so it’s smooth sailing from here.
- Similar: Getting there, making strides, on the right track
17. Par for the course
Describes a situation that is considered normal or expected, without any surprises.
- Example: The long lines at the grocery store were par for the course at this time of year.
- Similar: Just another day at the office, nothing out of the ordinary
18. Jumping The Gun
Something that occurs too early before preparations are ready; starting too soon.
- Example: I jumped the gun by starting to cook soup without realizing that I’m out of ingredients.
- Similar: Acted prematurely, acted too soon, rushed into things
19. The ball is in your court
An idiomatic expression that means it’s up to you to find the opportunity to take action.
- Example: There’s nothing left for me to do, the ball is in their court now.
- Similar: It’s up to them, out of one’s hands
20. There’s No I In Team
Not working alone, but rather, together with others in order to achieve a certain goal.
- Example: He advised his teammate to pass the ball more, reminding him that there’s no I in team.
- Similar: Teamwork makes the dream work, two heads are better than one
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