Published: 13th July 2018
Understanding the language of football: What do terms like 'get the ball rolling' mean
The expression ‘to get the ball rolling’ is very commonly used by speakers of English. It is used to refer to the act of starting something off
Football, also known as soccer, is the most popular game in the world. During the past four weeks, the FIFA World Cup 2018 dominated social media. Almost every football fan became an armchair scholar and commented on various matches and the performance of great football players and teams. Thousands of tweets were sent by Twitterati after each match. The language of football was used widely by commentators, news reporters, and Twitter users.
I came across interesting expressions in various news reports and articles. What fascinated me the most were different collocations of football-related words. Here are some of those collocations:
Croatia fans celebrate World Cup quarter-final win as Russians are left devastated.
Russia fans were left heartbroken as they watched their side lose 4-3 on penalties to Croatia.
England’s swaggering march to the last four has been marvellous on many levels.
A group of mostly young players, talented but not household names, built around a young superstar-in-the-making.
But they won hearts and minds with their social awareness and won games with a sense to family, togetherness, and joy.
Many words and phrases associated with the game have been in common use in many parts of the world where English is spoken. Here are seven useful football related idioms:
To keep one’s eye on the ball
To move the goal posts
To get the ball rolling
To score an own goal
To know the score
To be on the ball
To get a kick out of something
The expression ‘to keep one’s eye on the ball’ means to give one’s complete attention to a particular activity.
As the organising secretary of the conference, you must keep your eye on the ball and work towards the success of the conference.
The phrase ‘to move the goal posts’ means to unfairly change the rules or conditions of a process during its course. Example:
The employees of the organisation deserve two weeks of vacation. The employer tries to move the goal posts and change the rules.
The expression ‘to get the ball rolling’ is very commonly used by speakers of English. It is used to refer to the act of starting something off.
Once we get the permission to conduct the proposed training programme for the non-teaching staff, we will get the ball rolling.
I am planning to carry out research on the effective teaching of English to the rural students and I need your approval to get the ball rolling.
‘To score an own goal’ means to unintentionally harm one’s own interests. Examples:
He scored an own goal by stating to the employer that getting a promotion was not his immediate goal.
She could not climb up the ladder of success in her career because she scored her own goals a couple of times by stating the facts openly.
The phrase ‘to know the score’ means to be aware of the essential facts of a situation.
I am glad you have been invited to deliver the keynote address at the conference. You must prepare well and know the score with regard to the engineering education scenario in India.
As soon as I applied for medical leave, my manager approved it because he knows the score.
The expression ‘to be on the ball’ means to be alert and aware of what is going on around you.
He is the right person to be your research supervisor. When it comes to research in the field of education, he is always on the ball.
You can invite Mr Peter D’Souza to be the chief guest and address the student community. He understands the student community and their aspirations. He is always on the ball.
The idiomatic expression ‘to get a kick out of something’ means to enjoy an activity very much.
We went to the birthday party and got a kick out of it.
Whenever we have a get-together, John makes us get a kick out of all the activities he organises.