How to Talk About Active Hobbies: 20 Sports Phrases

Grover Laughtonreviewed bySana Liashuk / more about Editorial Process11 min
Created: Nov 7, 2022Last updated: Dec 26, 2023
20 Sports Phrases

Sports are considered one of the safest topics for small talk with strangers. But even if you are far from having active hobbies, we are sure you’ve been using some sports terms in your daily conversations. Various idioms and phrases are connected with such activities in English, and we will discuss most of them today. So whether you are an avid sports fan or want to expand your vocabulary with more exciting topics, stay tuned! In this article, we have everything you need to reach these goals. 

Talking about sports: Essential sports phrases for your future conversations

We will start with some basic vocabulary and phrases you can use when talking about activities. Most of them have literal meanings, as opposed to popular sports slang, that we will discuss later. The phrases mentioned below will be a perfect match for those interested in football, basketball, or any other sports and who like to discuss such topics with friends or strangers. 

Sports phrases to ask about someone’s hobby

When you speak with someone superb in any sport, you may want to ask them questions about their hobby. And this topic is all about these queries. Look at the most popular phrases and sports sayings you can use in a dialogue with athletes or people interested in any kind of sports. 

  • Do you play any sports/ What sport do you play? 

These phrases are a good ice-breaker for a conversation. If you don’t know the person well, you can ask whether they are interested in sports at all. And if you know that the answer is yes, ask them whether they do any sports or what kind of sports they do. For example:

X: Do you play any sports?

Y: Yes, I’ve been playing football since I was four. 

Q: I’ve heard that you are a professional sportsman. What sport do you play?

A: It’s true. I am a world-class boxer. 

  • Do you watch football/ice hockey/basketball/…?

If you know that the person doesn't do any sports, but you want to discuss some huge events, you can use this phrase to ask about their preferences. It will help you understand your interlocutor’s interests and continue the conversation. For example: 

X: Do you watch baseball?

Y: Yes, I love baseball. Did you watch last night's game? The Yankees killed it, as usual. 

  • What team/player do you root for? 

After you’ve learned someone’s sports preferences, you may ask them about their favorite player or team. If you are lucky and the person also roots for the team you like, you will have enough topics to discuss. But be careful if they cheer for your competitors – fans of different teams don't often find common ground. For example: 

X: What football team do you root for?

Y: I am a huge fan of Real Madrid. 

X: Well, I guess you are really upset about yesterday’s match. Barcelona, my all-time favorite team, was at the top of the game. 

  • How often do you practice ice hockey/baseball/football/…? 

There is another great sports phrase for small talk. If you know that your interlocutor does a particular kind of sport, you can ask them more about their practice. For example:

X: How often do you practice football?

Y: Twice a week. I trained more often when I was younger, but now work takes too much time.

  • Have you ever been to a football/basketball/baseball… match before? 

If you visit a game with your friends, this phrase will be a great way to keep your conversation going. You can also use it to start small talk with a stranger sitting near you during the break. For example:

X: Have you ever been to a football game before?

Y: Only at college. It is my first time at a stadium that big. 

X: Wow. You must be really excited about it. 

Sports terms and phrases to talk about your hobby

In this topic, you will find more common sports phrases. You can use them to answer previous questions or tell more about your active hobbies. These sayings and sentences are also great ice-breakers, so pay attention to one of them to use in your next sports conversations. 

  • I don’t do/like sports. 

If you are not a huge fan of sports, but someone is trying to discuss this topic with you, you can use this phrase to explain your preferences politely. For example:

X: Have you seen the Knicks game yesterday?

Y: Sorry, I don’t like sports. 

  • I like to watch football/basketball/baseball/…more than play them. 

If you are like us and prefer to watch huge games from your room more than playing on the field, this phrase perfectly explains it. For example:

X: Do you want to join our team? We are planning a game against the accounting department. 

Y: Nah, I have to refuse. I like to watch football more than play it. 

  • I am a huge fan of this sport/team/player/…

If you are really into a particular sport, team, or athlete, you can use this phrase to show your preferences to your interlocutor. It is also a great question if someone asks what sports you like. For example:

X: Do you like sports?

Y: I am a huge fan of baseball.

Q: Do you like football?

A: You bet I do. I am a huge fan of Real. 

  • I have football/baseball/basketball training three times a week. 

If you are a sportsman, and someone asks you about your training, this phrase is a perfect answer. For example:

X: Do you practice regularly?

Y: Yes. I have football training twice a week. 

Q: What is your way of staying fit?

A: I have tennis and basketball practices two and three times a week, respectively. 

  • I want to start training. 

This phrase is great for those who would like to share their future sports plans. For, example if you want to practice any particular sport more or just want to start visiting a gym, you can use this sentence to explain your thoughts to your friends. For example:

I feel fragile. I would like to start training to gain some muscles. 

I really like football. I aim to start training by myself. 


A little grammar: Sports verbs to master your speaking

Now that you know basic sports terminology, it is time to dive into some grammar rules related to this topic. They are quite simple and don’t differ from standard English grammar. But one thing connected only to this topic is sports verbs. 

There are three main verbs we use when talking about sports. And the difference between them is that you can only use them with a particular sport. Below you can find these verbs with explanations and examples of their use. 

  • To do. We can use this verb when talking about the sports people usually do at the gym. For example: to do gymnastics, to do athletics, to do cardio, etc. 
  • To go. This verb is suitable for situations where we describe sports with an ing ending. For example: to go swimming, to go skiing, to go running, to go skating, to go cycling, etc.
  • To play. You can use this verb when talking about team sports. For example: to play football, to play baseball, to play cricket, to play ice hockey, etc. 

These basic rules come in handy when talking about sports. But if you want to sound more natural and informal, check out our next topic. There you will find more useful phrases to help you talk about your favorite sports. 

Sports slang and idioms to talk about your active hobby

Sports slang and idioms

Regular readers of the Promova blog know how much we like English slang. It is a prevalent part of speech among natives since it helps to sound more relaxed and less official. People from various fields of activity have slang expressions, and athletes are no exception. Look at the most famous examples of sporting slang phrases to discuss your favorite activities

  • To be in good shape/in bad shape. 

This slang phrase is used to describe one’s physical abilities. If a person trains a lot, does many sports, eats healthily, etc., you can say they are in good shape. You can use the opposite phrase to describe someone who doesn’t do sports much. For example:

Jane joined this group training at the gym over a year ago, and she is in really good shape now. 

I haven’t been training since the last year, and I see that I’m in bad shape. 

  • Beezer. 

You might be confused now if you are not familiar with boxing slang. But if you know these sports terms, you know that a beezer is what boxers call a nose. You can even find this word in the Urban Dictionary. Here is how you can use it in your sentences: 

He punched me in the beezer several times in the first round. But I still won.

I will punch you in your beezer on the ring if you say one more word. 

  • Barnburner. 

This word has various meanings, but according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, nowadays, it refers to a fascinating sports event. It can also describe a game that takes place in an intense rivalry from start to finish. For example:

Have you seen the Bulls game yesterday? It was a total barnburner. 

  • Victory lap. 

This is an example of trendy sports jargon among golf players. You can use this phrase to describe a golf ball that spins around the hole after hitting it and eventually falls into it. For example: 

I thought it would be a victory lap, but it won’t. 

  • Jock.

This American slang word is an offensive way to describe athletes. Usually, it is used to talk about a negative person, a sportsman who abuses their popularity and behaves rudely and unacceptably. For example:

X: Do you remember this jock, Jason, from our football team?

Y: I do. What about him? 

X: He married Kate. 

  • Put the biscuit (in the basket). 

It is total hockey slang. A biscuit is a hockey puck. Therefore, to put the biscuit in the basket means to score. For example:

I thought we would lose, but Andrew put the biscuit in the basket. 

  • Also-ran. 

Sportspeople like to use this phrase to describe someone who doesn’t have good results in sports, someone who usually loses all games and matches. For example:

I don’t like to play with Ed. He is an also-ran, and we lose every time he plays in our team. 

  • To feel the burn. 

This is one of the most popular sports phrases and sayings among athletes. It means to train before you feel a so-called burn in your muscles. For example: 

I like to train until I feel the burn. 

  • To pump iron. 

You may often hear this expression at the gym. It describes a workout using exercise machines, dumbbells, and other iron equipment to build muscle. For example:

I am going to the gym to pump some iron. 

I’ve been feeling powerful since I started pumping iron. 

  • Hustler. 

The last word for today has a fascinating meaning. It refers to a professional and skilled athlete who deliberately underestimates their abilities to convince other players to play with them for money. For example:

I was entirely sure I would beat him, but apparently, he was a hustler. 

Install the Promova app to learn common sports phrases and expressions

Studying English might be challenging, and sometimes you need professional help to reach the top. And we are happy to help you with that. Promova is a prominent language-learning platform that offers various options for students worldwide. Below, you will find more information about the unique features already waiting for you here. 

The first and most popular option available is private tuition. If you need professional teachers' help, go to the Promova website, take a short test to determine your language level, and enjoy your fun and helpful one-on-one lessons. 

If you want to study alone, say no more! A convenient Promova app is already waiting. Install it on your phone or tablet, choose your proficiency level, and enjoy amazing lessons, various topics, and wonderful exercises. You can easily learn sports metaphors, professional terms, modern slang, and other essential elements here. 

There are two options for those who prefer to study in a company. First, of course, group lessons – learn the language with people of the same English level as you from all over the world, practice speaking and listening skills, and find new friends from different countries. The other option is a Conversation Club – here, you can discuss various topics you are interested in. And the best thing is that you can do it for free. So join Promova today and choose the best option suitable for you!


Since active hobbies are a popular small-talk topic, learning some common sports terms and expressions to use in conversations is necessary. Then, you can use them when talking to your family, friends, or even strangers. The point is to sound casual and relaxed while still understanding the meaning of sport-related words and phrases. We hope our article will help you expand your vocabulary and strengthen your speaking skills. And if you want to practice immediately, tell us about your favorite sport in the comments!


What are some good questions to ask athletes?

If you are talking to a person who is really into sports, you can ask them a lot. For example, what kind of sport they like or do or how often they practice. If you know that your interlocutor doesn't do sports but likes to watch them, ask about their favorite team or player.

What is the difference between the verbs to do, go, and play?

Usually, you have to use these verbs with different kinds of sports. For example, the verb to do goes with activities people do in the gym – to do gymnastics, to do cardio, etc. The verb to go is suitable for sports that have an ing ending – to go skiing, cycling, swimming, or running. And the verb to play you can use when talking about team sports – to play football, baseball, or basketball. 

How to talk about my favorite sports?

If you want to describe your favorite sport, use some of those phrases. Tell your interlocutor how long you have been doing it, what your favorite kind of sport is, what team or player you support, how often you practice, etc. You can also ask those questions to a person you are talking to keep the conversation going. 

What is the beezer?

It is a slang word popular among boxers. Its meaning is simple – a beezer is a nose. So if you want to say that someone punched you in the nose during your ring fight, you can say that they punched you in the beezer. It is one of those slang expressions that help you sound more like a native speaker. 


EvieOct 3rd, 2023
I'm not a huge sports fan, but this article made me appreciate the language of sports. It's a touchdown in my book!
PromovaJun 29th, 2023
ncorporating these sports phrases into daily language use can enhance fluency and cultural understanding for English learners in several ways. Firstly, it allows learners to become familiar with idiomatic expressions commonly used in sports contexts, enabling them to communicate more naturally and confidently. Secondly, by learning these phrases, learners gain insights into the cultural significance of sports and their influence on language and society. This enhances their overall understanding of English-speaking cultures and facilitates better cross-cultural communication.
AnnaJun 29th, 2023
How can incorporating these sports phrases into daily language use enhance both fluency and cultural understanding for English learners?