Sports Idioms: Euro Cup Edition

The EUFA European Championship is in full force, and we've all got football on our minds. So we decided to put together a few common phrases we use in the English language that have found their origins in the sports we all know and love. Knowing where they come from might help you figure out what they mean and how to use them in your every day English-speaking conversations.

The Ball is in Your Court

Ball is in your court

Meaning: It’s up to you to make a decision or the next move

Origin: This comes from court-based games such as tennis, badminton, or volleyball. The court is the area where the tennis match is played, so when the ball is on your part of the court, it is your turn to play.

Example: “Philip sent you his proposal, so the ball is in your court to accept the offer or not.”

Drop the Ball

drop the ball

Meaning: To make a mistake or blunder

Origin: In baseball and basketball, the ball must not hit the ground or that is the end of the play.

Example: “I can’t believe John forgot to send me the phone number for the client. He really dropped the ball.”

Game Changer

a game changer

Meaning: A person or an event that drastically transforms the outcome of a situation

Origin: In sports, a game changer is when a player scores a point or uses a play that may change the outcome of the game.

Example: “Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in The Revenant was a real game changer for his career.”

Get the Ball Rolling

get the ball rolling

Meaning: To begin something or get a process started

Origin: In a sport like football, the game has started once the ball is in motion.

Example: “We need to start planning our next meeting, who would like to get the ball rolling?”

Out of Left Field

out of left field

Meaning: To take you by surprise or come out of nowhere

Origin: This comes from baseball. The left fielder is the person who has the farthest distance to throw the ball in order to get to first base before the runner.

Example: “Pablo’s negative reaction to Liza’s new haircut was completely out of left field.

Find out what other sports idioms you might learn, and let us know if you can think of any others by commenting in the section below.

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