Sports Lingo and Terminology

Sports Lingo and Terminology

Have you ever been to a sporting event and didn't understand what was going on? Did you hear phrases that people said that didn't make any sense to you? We've created a reference list of glossary terms and the most common sports terminology you need to know. Start by picking a glossary for a sport below to learn the terms that athletes, broadcasters, and your friends use when they watch a game.

Sports Basic Terms

  • Winner
  • Loser
  • Offense
  • Defense
  • Home Team
  • Away Team
  • Referee
  • Opponent
  • Coach
  • Superstar: an extremely talented player that turns in impressive statistical performances consistently

Sports Fields Terms

  • Arena: Indoor enclosure surrounded by seating where sports take place, used for massive sporting events
  • Field: Outdoor, grassy, and open land where sporting events take place particularly football, baseball, or soccer
  • Court: Indoor or Outdoor area with painted sections to denote scoring and boundaries during the game, commonly seen in basketball, tennis, volleyball or racquetball.
  • Rink: Area made of ice or concrete, used for sports that require skates such as figure skating, roller blading, or hockey.
  • Track: Flat area with painted lanes used in racing sports
  • Goal: The scoring area for football, and soccer. The ball must enter or pass through a goal.
  • Bucket: The scoring area for basketball. The ball must enter the hoop.
  • Finish Line: The final line on a track noting the end of a race.
  • Sideline: Line in team sports where the coach, and players not in play reside. The Sideline notes the bounds for the area, crossing the sideline means a play is not valid.

Sports Fouls and Penalties Lingo

The universal terms in sports are included in the following bulleted list:

  • Contact Foul: illegal physical contact that prevents a player from completing the desired action
  • Delay of Game: in sports this penalty will be called whenever a player commits an act that delays the progress of the game.
  • Offsides: lining up or moving across a boundary line that marks the territory occupied by the opposition
  • Blowout: one team outscores the other by a significant margin
  • Sudden Death: refers to a situation in which the first team to score in an overtime period (necessary when the score remains tied after regulation time has expired) is declared the winner
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct: penalization for arguing with an official, demonstrating reckless and unnecessary physical contact towards an opponent or repeatedly using obscene language
  • Down to the Wire: the result of an event is likely to be decided by the outcome of the final play or sequence
  • Game winner: a scoring effort that occurs with little or no time left in the game, effectively securing a win for that team/player
  • Icing: calling an abrupt timeout to disorient a member of the opposition and prevent them from succeeding in the closing moments of a game

Sports Lingo

  • Barnburner: a game that is tightly contested from start to finish
  • Bench Warmer: a player that remains on the sidelines and logs minimal on-field playing time
  • Enforcer: a player that is relied upon to protect teammates and intimidate the opposition upon entering the field of play
  • Out of bounds: the player or ball crossover one of the boundary lines encapsulating the area of play
  • Turnover: committing an action that results in forfeiting possession of the ball to the opposing team
  • Bang-Bang Play: a play that unfolds in a fairly indiscernible fashion such that the ruling made by the official has the potential to go either way
  • Call Reversal: the original ruling passed down by the official is changed following a frame-by-frame examination of the replay on the video
  • Home Field Advantage: a slight advantage gained by the host team due to crowd noise and familiarity of the surroundings
  • Throwing in the Towel: when a team/player commits an action that expresses minimal confidence in their perceived chance of winning a contest