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Sports idioms

Sporting events have given birth to a number of idiomatic expressions. Sports idioms are particularly common in American English. They can be quite confusing for speakers of English as a second language. In this lesson we will learn about some of the most popular sports idioms. Most of these are difficult to understand. But because they are very common in daily usage it is well worth learning them.

Play ball

To play ball is to do business with

We donít want to play ball with anybody who doesnít have a good track record.

Strike out

To strike out on a deal is to fail on it.

We had every chance of winning, but by making a few stupid mistakes we struck out on the deal.

Locker talk: gossips, rumors

Game plan: plan of action

Do you think that we have the right game plan?

A real contender: a person with a very good chance of winning

He is a real contender for the post of CEO.

Not up to scratch: not having the right qualities

He was hoping to succeed to the post of CEO, but the director board felt that he was not up to scratch. (= The director board felt that he didnít have the right qualities.)

A no-win situation

When you are in a no-win situation, you have absolutely no chances of winning. This is an idiom derived from baseball.

It was his tendency to procrastinate that put him in a no-win situation.

Stall for time: to stall for time is to delay information or a decision. Origin: American football

If we stall for time, we will put ourselves in a no-win situation.

Get to home

To get to home is to complete the desired action. Origin: baseball

If everything goes as per our game plan, we will get to home without much difficulty.

Take the ball and run

To take the ball and run with it is to move in the right direction. Origin: American football

If we can convince them that we are competent enough to win the contract, we should be able to take the ball and run.

Call the shots

To call the shots is to make the decisions. Origin: basketball

He may be the boss in the office, but at home it is his wife who calls the shots.

Jockey oneself into position

To jockey yourself into position is to move into a good position so that you have good chances of success. Origin: horse racing

Play with a full deck

When you play with a full deck you have all the qualities and abilities necessary for winning. Origin: cards

If winning this contract is really important to you, you must play with a full deck.

Second stringers: less important workers

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