20 Sports Phrases That Found Their Way into the Corporate World
08th January, 2021
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Sports phrases being used as common workplace jargon are proof of the uncanny similarities between sports and the corporate world. How many do you know? The similarities between a sports game and the corporate world are remarkable. Both have teams working towards winning the match or completing the business target or goals. A couple of wrong moves can cost the team their hard work. No wonder you can find quite a bit of sports lingo being used in boardroom meetings and even between two colleagues. Here are 20 sports phrases that have knowingly or unknowingly become workplace jargon.
The ball is in their court americaexplained.wordpress.com
01
The ball is in their court
The sports phrase is used in both tennis and basketball. It is typically said when you’re waiting for the opposite team to make the next move. In terms of the corporate world, the catchphrase is widely used in business-to-business dealings or while pitching sales. Alternatively, it is also used when the opposite team is awaiting your decision. Who would’ve thought, right?
Slam dunk www.express.co.uk
02
Slam dunk
Slam dunk is a sports phrase that became hugely popular in basketball. It is an electrifying way of scoring a goal when a player dunks the ball through the basket. Back then, they were called “dunk shots.” The sports phrase is used in the corporate world to refer to success, which could be anything from winning a contract to the execution of a business model.
Knocked it out of the park www.emergingedtech.com
03
Knocked it out of the park
This phrase is typically used when the batter hits a home run. Imagine the feeling of hitting a home run and winning the match. Now, compare this feeling with walking out of the meeting room after successfully nailing a presentation or winning a contract. Don't these both have the same ecstatic feeling? So, obviously, the sports phrase fits perfectly in both situations.
Lost a step bleacherreport.com
04
Lost a step
The phrase became popular in the 20th century. It is used when a boxer seems to be losing their grip in the round and is likely to get knocked out anytime soon. In the corporate world, an employee is said to be “losing a step” when their skills are deteriorating to the point that they can lose their job. A situation that every employee dreads.
Ice water in their veins www.lapatilla.com
05
Ice water in their veins
There have been moments when legendary athletes like Michael Jordan and LeBron James maintained their cool and helped their respective teams win against all the odds. Winning a lopsided match, or closing a business deal, or giving a sales presentation in front of the board of directors, despite tremendous pressure, requires one to be as calm as if having “ice water in their veins.”
Pass the baton weidelonwinning.com
06
Pass the baton
A baton is passed from one player to another from the same team in a 4x100 relay to complete the remaining laps in the race. So, if you are a programmer who has completed coding an application and wants your team to develop a user interface, or if you ask a teammate to complete the rest of the presentation, what you are really doing is “passing the baton.”
Hail Mary www.sporcle.com
07
Hail Mary
“Hail Mary” in sports lingo refers to that last-second, long-shot attempt by a quarterback to win a losing football game. Popularised in the 1970s during a match between Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, the sports phrase is also widely used on corporate floors to denote a tactic or strategy that can be a saving grace for a failing project or business deal.
Have someone in your corner static01.nyt.com
08
Have someone in your corner
The chances of a boxer winning a title can increase dramatically if they have an experienced coach “in their corner” of the boxing ring to guide the boxer and keep them calm and focussed. Similarly, having a manager, team leader, or even an efficient teammate “in your corner” can help you deliver a project or presentation in a boardroom meeting with ease.
On the bench i.pinimg.com
09
On the bench
A term that every employee does not want to be associated with is being “on the bench.” This means they are not a part of an ongoing project, as they lack the necessary skills. In sports lingo, “on the bench” means being an extra player whose skills can be used in case a player on the field gets injured. Companies usually consider such people to be liabilities.
Dropped the ball www.thesportster.com
10
Dropped the ball
The sports phrase is widely used in football, rugby, and even in baseball to denote a fumble or dropped catch. The phrase became popularly synonymous with making a huge mistake. When someone “drops the ball” in the corporate world, it means they have made a mistake so huge that it can cost the company its current project or business contract.
Take one for the team premierskillsenglish.britishcouncil.org
11
Take one for the team
When a sports team asks one of its players to lose a tackle or a point so that the team can score through alternate tactics, the player “takes one for the team.” The phrase is notoriously used as an office jargon when a teammate is deliberately assigned an uninteresting task to make the team’s job easier. Admit it, we have all been there.
Game of inches www.reviewjournal.com
12
Game of inches
This is a popular football analogy, which means that every single inch taken by a player can decide the fate of the game. It was first used by Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi and has been immortalized by Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday. The phrase, as office jargon, refers to paying attention to the littlest of details to help win a business deal or project.
Bush-league www.yardbarker.com
13
Bush-league
Bush-league is one of the oldest sports phrases used in baseball. It is referred to as amateur or minor league players who have played out “in the bush” as opposed to professional players that play in the metropolitan areas. Someone at a workplace who is difficult to work with because of their unprofessional or unethical behavior is termed to be from “bush league.”
Full-court press www.badbasket.gr
14
Full-court press
The full-court press is a sports phrase popularly used in basketball, which means having a defense so dominating that the opposite team finds it difficult to score a basket. A “full-court press” in the corporate world means pitching your sales aggressively to make sure that you successfully close the deal. Recruiters in a company use this strategy when courting for a candidate.
Tackle sport.blic.rs
15
Tackle
The phrase is a sports lingo, which refers to offensive or defensive movement on the field to pass the football to save or score a goal. The phrase is popularly mirrored in the corporate world. It means to take a difficult project with ease or to troubleshoot an error in a project. So, how many difficult projects have you “tackled” at your workplace?
Down for the count 50percentds.blogspot.com
16
Down for the count
The sports phrase refers to the moment a boxer falls in the ring, and the referee starts a countdown for the boxer to get back up or lose the round and/or the match. If you hear someone saying this at your workplace, this means they are facing a minor setback but still have a chance to complete the task at hand.
Kick-off www.garudaprint.com
17
Kick-off
This means starting a game or resuming after half-time. Kick-off is a sports phrase that is typically used in football when a player of a team starts the game by kicking the ball. Offices use “kick-off” as jargon to refer to the beginning of an event; it could be a board meeting, project, presentation, or even a sales pitch.
In your wheelhouse twitter.com
18
In your wheelhouse
“In your wheelhouse” is usually used in baseball. It refers to the area a batter uses to hit a swing at the ball with maximum force to knock it out of the park. The sports phrase is popularly used as office jargon to refer to someone’s area of expertise in a project. It is used to describe someone’s maximum efficiency.
Behind the eight ball www.meersworld.net
19
Behind the eight ball
When a cue ball is behind the eight ball in a game of pool or billiards, there are limited options to strike the cue ball and pot a ball. Stuck behind the eight ball simply means stuck in a tough spot. An employee stuck in a difficult situation at their workplace is referred to as being “stuck behind the eight ball.”
Curveball jahmelasong.wordpress.com
20
Curveball
A curveball is a type of delivery that deviates the ball from its path, making it difficult for the batter to judge the bat’s contact with the ball. A “curveball” in the business lingo also refers to situations that are difficult to deal with. It can be anything, from new technologies to a counter offer pitched in a sales meeting.