sports vocabulary

A mini guide to sports vocabulary

Summer in Europe is packed with sport (football, tennis, cycling and golf are all popular at this time of year) so what a great time to brush up on your sports vocabulary! Below are a few useful bits of sports vocabulary for these 4 sports to get you started.

Reading task

A) First read the descriptions of each sport without focussing too much on the individual words. Just see if you can picture in your mind what is happening:

Football vocabulary

Two teams play to win the match. To score a goal, you need to get the ball past the goal-keeper into the other team’s net. If you tackle a player unfairly then the referee might decide it’s a foul and you’ll get a yellow card or perhaps be sent off the pitch. The other team may then be entitled to a free kick or a penalty.

Tennis vocabulary

You need a racket for this sport and you hit the ball over the net. Your opponent tries to return the ball. The first hit of each point is called the serve. If the ball doesn’t land within the court, the umpire or the linesman decides the ball is out and the other player wins the point, which might mean they win that game, or set or even the whole match.


Cycling vocabulary

The winner of any cycling tournament is the first cyclist to reach the finish line and win the race! You pedal as hard as you can uphill and then coast downhill. You brake if you need to slow down and you have to hope you don’t get a puncture in your tyre because that will slow you down significantly! 🙂

Golf vocabulary

Golfers use clubs to hit the ball into holes. If the ball goes in first time, this is known as a ‘hole in one’. Because the bag is heavy, successful golfers usually have a caddy to carry their bags for them and they drive around the golf course in a buggy.

Extending your sports vocabulary

B)Now it’s time to focus on the underlined words in the descriptions:
Have you read the sport descriptions above? Check you understand the meanings of the underlined words – You should be able to understand them from the context but if not, you can use your dictionary. Now write any useful vocabulary in your notebook with clear examples.

Pronunciation focus

C) Now listen to hear the correct pronunciation:
Listen to each description while reading along at the same time. It helps to ‘mouth’ it yourself at the same time so that you notice the rhythm. When you have listened enough times, try reading it aloud yourself copying my intonation and pronunciation of the underlined sports vocabulary.

YOUR favourite sport

Are any of the sports above your favourite? If not, which sport do you prefer and which sports vocabulary do you need to describe it? See if you can answer this question and leave your answer in the comments section below for me to correct 🙂 

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Nicki is a Cambridge qualified, experienced English teacher for foreign learners. She loves helping English learners to learn real English and communicate with confidence!

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