10 Sports Idioms You’re Using at Work

February 8, 2017

Since the jaw-dropping Super Bowl game on Sunday, football has been a major topic of conversation in my office. This got me thinking about how sports and business intersect in the workplace. Though not immediately apparent, there are many similarities between the worlds of business and sports, from their environments comprised of teams and leaders to best practices such as developing strategies and setting goals. Yet the similarity that stands out to me the most has to do with language; many of us incorporate sports references into our business conversations every day, often without even realizing it. Here are 10 of the most common sports idioms used in the workplace.


1. Touch base

Derived from: Baseball

Meaning: To connect with or briefly meet

Ex: “I need to touch base with my coworker to make sure I understand all the steps of this project.”


2. Game plan

Derived from: Any sport

Meaning: A strategy worked out in advance

Ex: “Our team needs to develop a game plan for growing our social media presence this year.”


3. Drop the ball

Derived from: Football/baseball

Meaning: Make a mistake

Ex: “He really dropped the ball when he forgot to get final approval by the due date.”


4. Up to par

Derived from: Golf

Meaning: Up to standard

Ex: “The client did not think the deck our team put together was up to par, so we had to make a lot of changes.”


5. Blindsided

Derived from: Football

Meaning: Caught unprepared

Ex: “The manager was blindsided when his employee accepted a job at another company with no notice, right before the busiest quarter of the year.”


6. Strike out

Derived from: Baseball

Meaning: To fail

Ex: “She really struck out on that deal; the client immediately rejected her pitch.”


7. Learn the ropes

Derived from: Sailing

Meaning: To understand how to do a particular job

Ex: “The intern quickly had to learn the ropes so he could help plan the company event that week.”


8. Knock it out of the park

Derived from: Baseball

Meaning: To do something extraordinarily well

Ex: “Her presentation was clear, informative, and engaging. She really knocked it out of the park.”


9. On target

Derived from: Darts

Meaning: On schedule to succeed

Ex: “We are on target to meet our budget for this month.”


10. Take a rain check

Derived from: Baseball

Meaning: To accept an offer for a later time

Ex: “I’d love to grab coffee this week but may need to take a rain check, as I’m up against several deadlines right now.”

by Isabel Sperry

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