Liven up your language with sports idioms

Redewendungen machen Ihre Sprache lebendiger. Sie sind auch ein wichtiger Bestandteil der Geschäftssprache. Hier sind – passend zur Olympiade – einige Sport-Redewendungen. Benutzen Sie sie und beeindrucken Sie Ihre internationalen Geschäftsfreunde und Besucher.

Secretary Today
Perfekte britische und amerikanische Korrespondenz, Gespräche, Telefonate, Geschäftsbesuche und sicherer Small Talk

Idioms not only make your language more lively and interesting, they are also an integral part of business English. Many English idioms are derived from sport, and what better time to practice them than during the Olympic games. Use these sportrelated idioms to liven up your language and impress your international business partners and visitors.


  • We didn't get that ad contract, unfortunately. But we were runners-up.
  • That presentation was great. You've really got off to a running start on the project.

Sailing and rowing 

  • We're getting nowhere in this negotiation. I think it's time to change tack.


  • It was really tough in my old job. I had to work ten hours a day just to keep my head above water.
  • Trying to keep my email account organised is like swimming against the tide.

Basketball and baseball

  • I know you haven't done the calculations yet, but can you give me a ballpark figure?

Secretary Today - Professionelles Business English für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen

Track & Field 

  • Please don't jump the gun by preparing all the figures before you've seen the budget.
  • When it comes to solving environmental problems, the older generation is passing the baton on to the younger generation.


  • I really don't know which company is going to win the contract. They both put great proposals forward and at the moment it’s neck and neck.

Court sports like tennis, badminton and volleyball 

  • We can't do any more on this project. It's in management's court now.

Boxing and wrestling

  • You were at the meeting, weren't you? Give me a blow-by-blow account.

This is what the expressions mean in German:


to be runner up Zweite(r) werden
to get off to a running start  direkt in Führung gehen 
to change tack  die Richtung ändern 
to keep one's head above water  den Kopf über Wasser halten 
to swim against the tide  gegen den Strom schwimmen 
a ballpark figure eine ungefähre Zahl  
to jump the gun  etwas überstürzen 
to pass on the baton  eine Sache an jmdn. übergeben 
neck and neck  Kopf an Kopf 
the ball is in your court  Sie sind jetzt dran 
blow-by-blow (account)  genaue Berichterstattung