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English sport idioms for studying and working

The international community and the business world are united by a common language that you can find in any major city – English.

If you’re planning a move abroad to study or work, then making sure you can communicate with your colleagues or fellow students is incredibly important.

Check out this article and see how you can use some of the most common idioms used in business and university life. You’ll discover idioms for unexpected questions, failure, leadership and responsibility.

At RKA Valencia we love to teach English that can be used. English that helps people to develop in their personal and professional lives. See our classes, or find out more about us here.

English sport idioms for when it goes wrong!

‘Strike Out’ – This one is a baseball reference. You only get three opportunities to hit the ball, and if you swing and miss the ball, the umpire will yell ‘STRIKE one’.

Striking out is a fun way to communicate that someone has not achieved what they wanted to.

Example 1: “Wow I thought our team would strike out this time, that goal was really tough".

Example 2: “James struck out at his latest job interview. He had practiced and rehearsed a lot, but maybe his CV just wasn’t good enough”

‘Drop the Ball’ – This is a reference to any ball-sport, and dropping the ball normally means you have not controlled or handled it well. Imagine a cricket player waiting as the batsman hits a ball high into the air. If the player does everything right, he will catch it, but if not, he will drop the ball. It’s a great way to say ‘you’ve made a mistake’.

Example 1: “OK Sarah, this project is very important for the business, so don’t drop the ball”.

Example 2: “I really feel like I dropped the ball on this one”.

English sport idioms for the good times!

‘Hit it out of the park’ – Another baseball reference, talking about a batter hitting the ball so hard and true that it sails out of the baseball park complex and away. It’s a great way to congratulate someone on success or motivate them to do a great job.

Example 1: “If your department can hit this one out of the park, our business will be able to make great progress this year”.

Example 2: “Nice one Greg, you guys hit it out of the park! Well done”.

‘Be in the driving seat’ – This one is a racing or driving reference, meaning that you are in control and are handling everything. It can be used to talk about your current position, or to motivate extra work.

Example 1: “As soon as we are in the driving seat in this market, we can really be successful”.

Example 2: “OK now we are in the driving seat, our business can make even more sales”.

A few extra English sport idioms...

‘Ball is in your court’ – This one is a tennis reference, suggesting that it’s your turn to take action or make a decision. This can be used to tell someone they need to do something, or to prompt an action.

Example 1: “I think we have done everything we can, so the ball is in your court now”.

Example 2: “The ball is in our court, so we have to make a decision about our next step”.

‘Stay ahead of the game’ – This works for almost any sport, and references trying to do better, prepare more and train harder than your competition. It can be used to motivate extra effort or talk about how you are doing compared to others.

Example 1: “If we don’t stay ahead of the game, our competitors will overtake our sales in three months”.

Example 2: “Well we are managing to stay ahead of the game for now, so let’s make good use of the advantage”.


Get used to using some of these idioms, and you’ll be able to talk about success, failure, indecision, and preparation with anyone in your team. It’s not just about being able to make yourself understood, but also fitting in with native English speakers and understanding them better too.

If you want to improve your English, learn how to communicate with native speakers or boost your international employment chances, get in touch with RKA Valencia at, or contact us here.

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