In the second week of the olympic games, here are the best 5 Business English phrases from athletics!

In the crazy world of business idioms, did you know English even has even taken phrases from the sport of athletics!?  Here are my top 5 English phrases taken from olympic sports!

Dive into something

To dive into something means to do something without any preparations, and without thinking about it in advance.

‘We can’t just dive into the project without any planning.’

‘In the presentation you shouldn’t just dive into the main topics.  You have to begin with a short introduction and summary of what you are going to talk about.’

A stronger phrase with the same meaning is to dive into something head first.

‘The marketing team just dived into the project head first without doing any real market research.’

This phrase of course comes from the sport of diving!

The ball is in your court

If the ball is in someone’s court it means that it is their turn to act, reply or speak in a situation.  This phrase is actually really useful to describe situations in business negotiations – These examples should make this easier to understand..

‘We have sent them our best offer, the ball is now in their court.’

So in this phrase you have sent some kind of offer to a different company, and now it is their turn to reply to you with an answer.

‘These are the best conditions we can offer you in your contract.  The ball is now in your court as to whether you wish to sign.’ 

Again here, to say to someone that the ball is in your court, is an invitation to somebody to reply to your offer.  This can be used in general English as well:

‘I sent her a message asking if she wants to come on a date with me on Friday night, now the ball is in her court.’

Again, quite easy to guess which sport this one comes from.  A ‘court’ is the area where you play tennis or any other racket sport.

A race against time

If something is a race against time, it means that you must work very quickly and efficiently to complete it on time.

‘It will be a race against time to get the product launched by the deadline.’

‘It was a race against time to get everything organised on time for the work’s party, but we managed it!’

This is our first idiom on the list which originally comes from track and field, or any sport where a competitor is racing to beat a certain time set by their rival.

Jump the gun

My favourite idiom from this list.  To jump the gun means to begin something before all the preparations are complete.

‘Customers have complained about problems with the product. I think we jumped the gun and launched the product before it was ready.’

‘I think we have jumped the gun by promoting him so soon, he doesn’t quite have enough experience yet.’

The phrase comes from track and field athletics.  Traditionally, races in athletics usually begin with firing a gun or pistol. So if you jump the gun, it means that you start before the gun is fired.  This is known as a ‘false start’, and if you do 2 false starts in one race then you are disqualified.

Sail through

To sail through something means to complete a task easily with no problems:

‘With your experience and confidence, you should sail through the interview.’

‘She sailed through the exam with a total score of 100%!’

As you may have guessed, this particular idiom comes from sailing!

If you would like to have any any further example sentences with these words, feel free to visit my website or comment below! Also if you have any other questions about English I’m happy to answer your emails or I will write a post about it, keep the emails coming!


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David Cox

Founder of englishtenses.eu

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