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#SOSMonday – A Sporting Chance

September is a great time of year to start learning a new sport!

So let’s look at some sporting idioms we use in everyday English to help give you a head start.

These will really help your conversations to get off on the right foot!

idiom
sport of origin
meaningexample sentence
across the board
cards
equal for everyoneTen percent raises were given across the board.
at this stage in the game
any sport
at this timeNobody knows who is going to win the election at this stage in the game.
the ball is in your court
tennis
it’s your decision or responsibility to do something now“Do you think I should accept the job offer?”
“Don’t ask me. The ball is in your court now”.
bark up the wrong tree
hunting
you’ve got the wrong person or ideaI think you’re barking up the wrong tree by blaming Matt for the missing money.
blind-sided
American football
to not see something comingGeorge blind-sided Eric with his fist at the bar.
blow the competition away
any sport
win easilyIf you wear that dress to the beauty pageant you are going to blow the competition away.
call the shots
billiards
make the decisionsWhile our boss is on vacation, Bob will call the shots.
chip in
gambling
help by donating money or timeThe staff members chipped in 5 dollars each to buy Jody a birthday gift.
down to the wire
horse racing
right at the endIt’s coming down to the wire to get these done on time.
front runner
track
one of the people who is expected to winAngela is a front runner for the new supervisor position.
get a head start
horse racing
start before all othersThey gave the walkers a head start in the run for cancer.
get into the full swing
tennis
be comfortable doing something after some timeIt will probably take a month of working at my new job before I get into the full swing of things.
get off the hook
fishing
escape, have responsibility removedThe child got off the hook for stealing because the security camera was broken.
give something or someone a fair shake
gambling
try for a while before giving upYou should give Nadine a fair shake before you decide she isn’t good enough for the job.
get a second wind
sailing
have a burst of energy after tiringI was exhausted after 3 kilometres of running, but I got a second wind after I passed the beach.
give it your best shot
hunting
try your hardestGive it your best shot and you may just make it to the finals.
give one a run for one’s money
horseracing
try one’s hardest to defeat another personI know the other team is expected to win, but let’s give them a run for their money tonight.
go overboard
sailing
do or say more than you need toYou can’t believe everything Janice says about Rick. She tends to go overboard when she’s complaining about him.
go to bat for someone
baseball
defend someoneAndy is asking for a salary increase, and I’m going to go to bat for him if the boss says no.
have the upper hand
cards
have a better chance of winning or succeedingThe Blues have the upper hand in the tournament, because none of their players is injured.
hit below the belt
martial arts
do or say something that is very unfair or cruelAmanda was hitting below the belt when she called Adrian an unfit father.
hit a snag
boating
come up against a problemThe renovations were going along great until we hit a snag with the carpet installation.
hold all the aces
cards
expected to win or succeedThe children hold all the aces when it comes to the father-son baseball tournament.
the home stretch
horse racing
almost the endI think Alice’s pregnancy is in the home stretch.
hot shot (big shot)
hunting
an important or very successful personAll the hot shots from Silicon Valley were invited to meet the president.
jump the gun
track
start too earlyI guess I jumped the gun by buying Pam and Steve a wedding gift. They called off the engagement.
keep one’s head above water
swimming
try not to fall behind in work or other dutiesWe are so busy during the tourist season I can barely keep my head above water.
learn the ropes
sailing
understand new thingsThe first week on the job you will just be learning the ropes.
let her rip
boating
go ahead nowOkay, here are the keys to your new car. Let her rip!
level playing field
any field sport
everyone has an equal chanceThe spelling bee is a level playing field because all of the kids are in grade nine.
long shot
hunting
a very difficult thing to accomplishJim thinks we can afford the house, but I think it’s a long shot.
make the cut
any sport
be chosen to be part of a team or groupI didn’t get a second interview, so I’m pretty sure I won’t make the cut.
neck and neck
horse racing
to be in a close tie with someoneGeorge and Stan are neck and neck in the hockey pool. Either of them could win the money.
no sweat
any sport
no problemI told Lily it was no sweat for us to babysit next weekend.
not playing with a full deck (of cards)
cards
not having full brain capacityI think Jerry was still drunk at work on Sunday because he wasn’t playing with a full deck.
not up to par
golf
not good enough for a job or positionI’m afraid your resume isn’t up to par for the engineering position.
to be off base
baseball
not making a fair or true remarkYou were way off base when you said Bill needed to lose weight.
on target
darts
doing the right thing to succeedWe are on target to meet our budget this month.
on the ball
baseball
ready and ableThe new receptionist is really on the ball when it comes to answering the phone.
out in left field
baseball
strange, very unconventional; completely wrongAll of the students laughed when Joe gave an answer that was out in left field.
out of someone’s league
team sport
not as good as someoneI’d like to date Maria, but I’m afraid I’m out of her league.
par for the course
golf
an expected circumstanceWaiting in line is par for the course at Christmas time.
plenty of other fish in the sea
fishing
there are many other men and women to dateI know you still love Jack, but remember there are plenty of other fish in the sea.
race against time
track
there is almost no time left to accomplish somethingIt’s a race against time to find a kidney donor for my cousin.
settle a score with someone
any sport
get even with a person after a previous battleMy brother wants to settle the score with that guy who stole my wallet.
shot in the dark
hunting
a guessI was lucky to win the quiz. All my answers were shots in the dark.
skate on thin ice
skating
do something risky, take a chanceYou’re skating on thin ice by not sending in your college application before now.
start the ball rolling
ball sports
begin somethingPlease can everyone be seated so we can start the ball rolling.
step up to the plate
baseball
do the honourable thing, take responsibilityIt’s time you stepped up to the plate and apologized for your mistake.
take a rain check
baseball
accept at a later timeSorry, I can’t go to the movies today, but I’d love to take a rain check.
take sides
any sport
choose a person or group to supportI hate to take sides, but I think Jerry is right about the paint colour.
take the bull by the horns
bull fighting
accept the challenge and try your hardestEven though this new job will mean relocating, I think you should take the bull by the horns for once.
take the wind out of one’s sails
sailing
make someone feel deflatedI think I took the wind out of Angela’s sails when I told her she was a terrible singer.
throw in the towel
boxing
give upIf they don’t accept our offer this time we are going to throw in the towel and look at houses elsewhere.
time out
any sport
breakLet’s take some time out and grab a coffee.
three strikes and you’re out
baseball
you only get three chancesThe school’s no smoking policy is three strikes and you’re out.
two strikes against
baseball
you only have one chance remainingNancy is going to be fired in no time. She already has two strikes against her for coming in late.
under the table
gambling
illegallyI don’t have a work visa, so they have to pay me under the table.
win hands down
gambling
easy victoryThe other team was missing half of its players. We won hands down.