50 Sports Idioms, Origin, Meaning & Example

Sports Idioms, Origin, Meaning & Example
Via Wikipedia commons

Sports idioms are very sweet in the mouth, especially when used by sports experts in commentaries and analysis. They are also a good way to garnish your daily conversations and written expressions.

From different sports around the world, we bring you sports idioms that will catch your attention, their origin, meaning, and usage. Sit back, relax and go through them.

Top Sports Idioms, their Meaning, Origin, and Example

S/NIdioms & Sports of OriginMeaning  Example Sentence
1Across the board
– from cards
The same for everyoneMy will must be shared across board.
2At this stage in the game
– any sport
At a particular point in the gameWe can’t manage as little as a draw at this stage in the game.
3The ball is in your court
– from tennis
It’s time to take up the initiativeI have fulfilled my own part; the ball is in your court now.
4Bark up the wrong tree
from hunting
You are holding onto the wrong person or ideaI think you’re barking up the wrong tree by casting aspersions on the legislature.
5Blow the competition away
any sport
To win a contest with so much easeIf you keep up with our training schedule, you will blow the competition away.
6Call the shots
from billiards
To make the decisionsNo one but Fredick will determine when to call the shots.
7Chip in
from gambling
Making an addition to what has been said or done earlier.Apart from humility, I will also chip in that discipline is key in our team.
8Down to the wire
from horse racing
Close to the endWe are already down to the wire, we can’t afford to slip.
9Front runner
from track
One who the odds favourMichy is a front runner for the movie role.
10Get a head start
from horse racing
Starting before othersThey gave the aged a head start in the run for cancer treatment.
11Get into the full swing
from tennis
Getting used to an activityI need a week to get into the full swing of things.
12Give something/someone a fair shake
from gambling
Giving something a fair tryYou never gave the job a fair shake before quitting.
13Get a second wind
from sailing
Getting reenergized after exhaustionI was down with exhaustion but I got a second wind after I passed the hill.
14Give it your best shot
from hunting
Try the much you canLet’s give it our best shot, who knows, we might get a win this time.
13Give one a run for one’s money
from horse racing
Giving your all you’ve got to defeat an opponentI know I am the underdog here, but I will give you a run for your money tonight.
14Go overboard
from sailing
Do or say more than necessaryI have warned that you should not go overboard when complaining about your teacher.
15Go to bat for someone
from baseball
To defend someone vehementlyWood is asking for a salary increase, and I’m going to go to bat for him this time around.
16Have the upper hand
from cards
To stand a better chance of winningReal Madrid have the upper hand in the league this season.
17Hit below the belt
from martial arts
To do or say something that is considered a foul playTyson hit below the belt when he bit Holyfield.
18Hit a snag
from boating
To encounter a problemThe game was going in our favor until we hit a snag with the red cards.
19Hold all the aces
from cards
Expected to win a contestThe German Shepperd hold all the aces when it comes to the guarding the family entrance.
20Big shot
from hunting
An important or very successful personAll the big shots from Google are pragmatic leaders.
21Jump the gun
from track
Start too earlyI guess I jumped the gun for coming by 5 am.
22keep one’s head above water
from swimming
Try not to fall behind in work or other dutiesMy desk is full, I hardly keep my head above water .
23Learn the ropes
from sailing
Understand new things graduallyThe first week on the job demands that you learn the ropes.
24Let her rip
from boating
To go fasterOver there is the computer, giver way, Let her rip.
25Level playing field
any sport
Everyone has an equal chanceOur academy is a level playing field for teens who want to develop in sports.
26Long shot
from hunting
A very difficult goal to attainGetting a sports car not is a long shot.
27Make the cut
any sport
To be chosen to be part of a team or groupI didn’t get a call from the company, so I’m sure I won’t make the cut.
28Neck and neck
horse racing
To be in a close tie with someoneRonaldo and Messi are neck and neck in the game of football.
29No sweat
any sport
No problem/challengesI told Lizy it was no sweat for us to enroll in the gym
30Not up to par
from golf
Not good enough for a job or positionYou won’t get a call because your CV isn’t up to par for the coding position.
31To be off base
from baseball
Not making the right remarkYou were way off base when you insulted her father.
32On target
from darts
Following the right trackWe are pretty much on target to meet our goals this month.
33On the ball
from baseball
Being capableThe new writer is really on the ball when it comes to sports articles.
34Out of someone’s league
from team sport
Not good enoughWe would have employed you but you are out of our league.
35Par for the course
– from golf
Something that is expectedWaiting in line is par for the course in the bank these days.
36Plenty of other fish in the sea
– from fishing
There are many other opportunitiesI know you love your job, but remember there are plenty of other fish in the sea.
37Race against time
from track
When you are behind schedule/timeTrying to get at him right now is a race against time 
38Settle a score with someone
any sport
To settle your differences with someone.My brother wants to settle the score with that guy who kicked my ball inside the bush yesterday.
39Shot in the dark
from hunting
A guess workI you can’t land the job, your answers were shots in the dark.
40Skate on thin ice
from skating
To take a riskYou’re skating on thin ice by not going for rehearsals as our master instructed..
41Get the ball rolling
ball sports
begin somethingEveryone must be in attendance tomorrow so we can get the ball rolling.
42Step up to the plate
from baseball
To take responsibilityWhen you get things wrong, step up to the plate and apologize.
43Take the bull by the horns
from bull fighting
Accept the challenge and try to conquerI can’t afford not to take the bull by the horns in New York City.
44Throw in the towel
from boxing
To succumb to a challengeIf they continue their line of argument, we will have to throw in the towel.
45Time out
any sport
Break timeLet’s take some time out and grab some rest, then continue afterwards.
46Two strikes against
from baseball
You only have one chance remainingHenry is going to be fired in no time. He already has two strikes against her for coming in late.
47Under the table
from gambling
To do something illegallyI don’t have a work permit, so I operate under the table.
48Win hands down
easy victoryTheir key players were missing so we won hands down.
49  Down and Out
– from boxing  
Lacking in energy, deflated and defeated  A lot of fans thought Garcia was down and out but he rallied back to win the bout.  
50To drop the gloves
from Ice hockey
To start a fightIn the middle of the game, Rooney dropped the gloves and knocked Rose out cold.

Think we failed to mention some top sports idioms, please drop a comment about them.

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