Ball In The Field

Learn English Through Sports: 4 Great Tips

Many of us enjoy sports and just thinking about our favourite team or athlete winning matches or performing amazing stunts makes us shout and jump out of our seats!  But did you know that the thing you love can also help you practice your English speaking and writing skills? Yes, you’ll be able to enjoy and learn at the same time. With the help of this post, let’s use this energy and learn English through sports!

4 great tips to learn English through sports

1. Learning Key Vocabulary in sports

For beginners, firstly, learning key vocabulary is a great starting point. Sites like English-learn-online have great activities to help you start increasing your knowledge of sports-related words. You might be surprise at the terms you’ll encounter along the way. For instance, in a tennis game, “love” means zero score.


2. Improving your reading skills

As you improve your English, you can start to enjoy sports in English more deeply through reading. The Bleacher Report is a fun website that releases articles related to America sports and athletes.  Reading articles about teams and people you like gives you access to new vocabulary and grammar while you learn more about them!  For a more formal style, you can look at articles published on the BBC website.  The BBC covers a lot of international sports as well as those popular in the UK.


3. Improving your English listening and speaking skills

If you want to practice your listening skills, why not try some sports podcasts? These are easily downloaded on any android or iPhone and you can listen to them on the train, in the car, when your jogging, or relaxing at home. It means you can use your time more wisely as you’d be able to learn while you’re on the go. Once again, the BBC has an excellent library of releases on a large variety of sports including Formula One, American football, winter sports and, of course, cricket!  Furthermore, if you enjoy funny sports news, then Barstool Sports might be fun to try.  They regularly release reports and discussions about all sorts of sports topics.  Barstool Sports also offers a number of opinions in their discussions.  Likewise, you could make the most of this by getting friends to listen to the same podcast then discuss it together.


4. Improving your writing skills

Another great way to practice English is to write.  This helps you to use new grammar and vocabulary that you have learnt in a productive way.  Why not look into an athlete that you admire, like Usain Bolt or Michael Jordan, and try writing some information about them! Biography Online has a massive selection of sports stars, as well as famous people from many other fields like writers, musicians, scientists, and many, many more.


Bonus: 10 Examples of Sports Idioms in the English Language

Here are some of the most commonly used idiomatic expressions based on sports. Each phrase includes the meaning and also shows it in context via examples.

In general, idioms derived from sports originate from notable leagues such as baseball. As time went by, these phrases had been picked up by the tongue and were used in everyday language. Although you can use these phrases to discuss about sports, you can also borrow it to convey a completely different context. Try to learn English through sports by using these idiomatic expressions in school, at work or in social events. Surely, you’ll sound like a pro!

On the home stretch

Home stretch pertains to the last part or last bend of the track. Once the athlete gets sight of this area, they know that they are nearing the finish line. As an idiomatic expression, on the home stretch means something is close to completion.

“I’ve spent almost six months on my car restoration project. With a few paint jobs left, I can proudly say I’m on the home stretch now.”

Front runner

A front runner is the person who’s in the lead during a race. However, although the person is likely to win, it isn’t official yet until he/she reaches the finish line. In English idioms, a front runner pertains to someone who’s likely to get the favor of another person or to win at something.

Speaker 1: I want to apply for the managerial role. Do you think I can get it?

Speaker 2: Between you and Mark, I’d say your chances are high because of your contributions to this company. For me, you are clearly the front runner.

The ball is in your court

In a tennis match, you get a turn to hit the ball when it is on your side of the court. Today, we also use this phrase to describe someone’s turn to make a move or to take action.

Speaker 1: The director keeps on hinting that I should apply for the management position. Do you think I should take his encouragement seriously?

Speaker 2: Oh, I’m busy at the moment. The ball is on your court so you decide.

Par for the course

Each hole on a golf course has a par. This term refers to the number of strokes a player has to finish a hole. Par is also the standard by which the scores of the golfers are measured. When used as an idiom, this phrase means something to be expected, or something that is normal.

“The assistant of the CEO came an hour late again.”

Oh, it doesn’t surprise me anymore. That’s par for the course with that assistant. He listens to no one but the boss. “

Out of someone’s league

The league in this phrase refers to baseball leagues wherein groupings are done based on the teams’ performance. Players with impressive performances are of course in a different league compared to those who play poorly. When it comes to idioms, this phrase means that someone is too good for another person or overqualified at something.

Did you see Jen’s new boyfriend? He’s not only oozing handsome, but he’s also rich. All I could say is that he’s out of Jen’s league.

Two strikes/Three strikes and someone’s out

In a baseball game, when a player gets three strikes, then he’s out of the game. So whenever a player already has two strikes, then he knows he only has one chance to hit the ball right. In idioms, it means someone has a final chance after making two mistakes.

You missed the deadline for the report again. You’ve got two strikes. Make it three strikes and you’ll definitely get terminated.

Drop the ball

In a baseball match, if a fielder accidentally drops the ball, the opponent can take advantage and run through the bases. In English vocabulary, we use this term to a mistake committed due to carelessness.

“I’ve already given you a verbal and written warning last week. However, you didn’t take it seriously and missed the project’s deadline again. I’m sorry, but you really dropped the ball this time. You’re fired.”

Hit a home run

A home run means a player had successfully run through all of the bases and got a score for the team. Today, we use this phrase to describe someone who’s done a fantastic job over something.

“I’m glad you heeded my advice. I saw your report this morning and I must admit, you definitely hit a home run with that one.”

Strike out

In baseball, a strike out mean a player failed three times at batting. When it happens, a player is out. In English vocabulary, this term also describes a failed attempt at something.

I tried to ask to lady next door for a date but she turned me down. I tried again but the same thing happened. It’s clear that I struck out.

Out of left field

In baseball, the left field literally refers the left fielder’s covered area. This player is the farthest from the first base and therefore needs to make the longest throw. When used as an idiom, this phrase refers to something that is unexpected or surprising.

“The young CEO’s sudden passing came way out of left field. He’s only 30 and had such an active lifestyle. What a pity for the family.”

 Did you enjoy reading the sample idioms for sports? Now is the time to take what you have read and learned from this post. There are plenty of online tests and “challenge yourself” exercises on the Internet. It’s a great first step to determine what you have learned. If you want to find out more, you can find many sports idioms on our Youtube channel. Do you know what it means to score an own goal, knock it out of the park, or to throw in the towel?

In conclusion, sports idioms are everywhere, and a great way to express yourself! Keep searching for helpful posts and guides and learn English through sports. One day, you might be surprised that you’re already speaking and writing like a native English speaker!

We hope these tips help you to learn English in an exciting new way!  Check out our website for more fun tips and ideas.

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