Describing sports

Powered by RedCircle

Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. You can find a transcript of this podcast on There’s a page for this podcast with the transcript, an activity and a task for you to do in the comments section.

Today, I want to talk about sports. I have found a list of the world’s most popular sports, so today, I’m going to go through the list, like a countdown from the 10th position all the way to the first position. I have found a picture of the sport and I’m going to describe the picture and I want you to try to work out what sport I’m describing. If you want to look at the pictures I’m describing and read the text as you listen, then visit the website for this podcast. It’s The page is in the A2 section and it’s called Describing sports.

The sports vocabulary I’m describing is all A1 and A2, but the language, the grammar and phrases I use to describe the sports will be more advanced. I’ve chosen to focus on this language because it will be useful for the learners in my conversation class on English Focus. If you’re interested in joining the class, you can read more about it on or you can write to my email: and I’ll send you the information.

Let’s get started.

In joint ninth place with 400 million fans is a sport that is very popular in the USA. In the picture, there is a man who is running and trying to get past some other men who are trying to stop him. All of the people in the picture are wearing helmets with cages that cover their faces. They are also wearing shoulder pads. The man who is running is carrying a ball that’s shaped a bit like a really big almond, but a bit more round in the middle.

Do you know what sport I’m describing?

The answer is American Football. In the UK, we play rugby. I say we … I don’t. Some people play rugby. The ball and the goals are similar, but you’re not allowed to throw the ball forwards in rugby. I’m sure there are lots of other differences too. Rugby, though, is not on the list of the top 10 most popular sports.

The next sport, tied in ninth place with 400 million fans is a strange one. In the picture, it seems to be a sport played by giants who all wear really large shorts. All the players are wearing shorts that come all the way to their knees and on their top halves, they are wearing vests. The players are chasing a big round orange ball. In the picture, one man is reaching out to catch the ball with his hands. You can’t see it in the picture, but the players are trying to throw the ball through a little metal ring attached to a board that’s suspended about 3 metres from the ground.

Do you know what sport I’m describing?

The answer is basketball.

In 8th place is a sport that was invented in Scotland and is mostly played by rich people but is enjoyed by 450 million people around the world. In the picture, there’s a man wearing casual trousers and a light shirt. He’s not wearing what you’d normally think of when you think of sports clothes. He also has one glove on. He’s standing on a large field, but it’s not perfectly flat, like a pitch. He’s holding a long stick with a kind of blob at one end that he’s just used to hit a ball.

Do you know what sport I’m describing?

The answer is golf.

The sport in 7th place has 500 million fans, but it’s not popular here in the UK. In the picture, there are three men. One of them is standing on a white marker. He’s the player. Behind him, there’s a man wearing armour and a helmet with a cage over his head and behind him is the judge or referee. I think he might be an umpire in this sport. The man in front is wearing a strange uniform that looks a bit like pyjamas. He’s got a helmet on and his trousers are tucked into his socks. He’s holding a wooden bat that’s like a cylinder that’s fatter at one end. In the picture, he’s just about to try to hit a ball.

Do you know what sport I’m describing?

The answer is baseball.

The sport in 6th place, with 850 million fans, surprised me. I had no idea it was this popular. I think that this sport is more popular in Asia than Europe. It’s common enough here and I have played it, though I’m not very good, but it’s not on TV much. In the picture, there are two men, standing at either end of a table with a blue top. There’s a little net running across the middle of the table. The men are wearing shorts and t-shirts. One of the men is reaching across the table to hit a little white ball with a small round bat.

Do you know what sport I’m describing?

The answer is table tennis.

In fifth place, with 900 million fans is another sport that we don’t play much in the UK. It’s often played on beaches and in the UK, for most of the years, beaches are nice places to go for a walk, but a bit cold for this sport. In the picture, there are women, jumping in the air trying to hit a ball over a net. The women are wearing short sleeved tops and very short shorts.

Do you know what sport I’m describing?

The answer is volleyball.

The sport in 4th place has 1 billion fans and is popular in the UK. In fact, there’s a competition for this sport every year in an area of South London called Wimbledon that has been played since 1877. In the picture, there are 4 people playing this. Normally, it’s played by two people, but you can play with 2 on each side. The players are all holding rackets. Rackets are like bats, but they have strings tied like a really tight net which the players use to hit balls. They are playing on a large rectangular court which is marked on the ground with white lines and they are hitting a small yellow ball over a net that runs across the middle of the court.

Do you know what sport I’m describing?

The answer is tennis.

The next sport surprised me again. In 3rd place is a sport with 2 billion fans, that’s twice as popular as tennis. But I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you the name of a single player or when the most recent championships were held. However, I looked at a couple of lists of popular sports online and they both had this sport in third place. The picture for this sport is an action shot. The sport is being played by girls who are wearing sleeveless vests and shorts and long socks with some sort of armour protecting their shins. They are carrying sticks that are about a metre long and have a little curve at the end. They are trying to hit a ball into a goal. The goalkeeper is wearing lots of armour including some sort of face protection/

Do you know what sport I’m describing?

The answer is hockey. In the USA and Canada, when people say hockey, they mean ice-hockey which is similar, but is played on ice-rinks and all the players wear lots of armour. They call the third most popular sport field hockey, but in most of the world, it’s just called hockey.

In 2nd place, with 2.5 billion fans is a sport that is played on village greens in summer in the UK, but is more popular in other countries. Traditionally, people in South Asia have loved this sport and the only time I have ever watched it was when I lived in Sri Lanka. I could actually name more Sri Lankan players than English players. In the picture, there is a man wearing white trousers and a white short sleeved shirt. He is wearing long pads on his legs and thick padded gloves. He’s also wearing a helmet that looks like a cap with a cage to protect his face. He’s holding a large wooden bat that has a flat surface on one side that he’s using to try to hit a ball. The ball had been thrown at him by an opponent who is not in the shot. The opponent is trying to hit a target behind the man in the picture that is three stakes called stumps that are stuck into the ground and that have little wooden cylinders on top that will fall if the stakes are hit.

Do you know what sport I’m describing?

The answer is cricket.

Right! Now I can describe the world’s most popular sport with 3.5 billion fans. I’m not sure if this will come as a surprise to anyone, but I’ll describe a picture all the same. So… the picture I have chosen is an action shot, but you can only see some legs. The legs belong to a person who is wearing shorts and special boots that have studs on the bottom. The person has just kicked a ball. In the background, you can see a large metal frame which is called the goal. The goal is made of white metal bars and has a net draped over the back. The front of the goal is open and that’s the target for the person kicking the ball. You can also see that there is a man in front of the goal who is trying to stop the ball going into the goal.

Do you know what sport I’m describing?

The answer is football. Football has 3.5 billion fans. That’s incredible. In the USA, if you say football, people will think of the ninth most popular sport and will try to tell you that the world’s most popular sport is actually called soccer. But the term soccer, which comes from the phrase association football, is not really used outside of the USA. It used to be quite common in the UK and you do still see it sometimes, but some people are funny about the term and get very defensive and will insist that it’s called football.

OK. So those are the 10 most popular sports in the world. Did that list surprise you? I was surprised. I thought rugby would be on the list and I was really surprised to see hockey in third place.

I said this earlier, but, yf you would like to see the pictures I have been describing then visit the page for this podcast on It’s in the A2 section and the page is called Describing Sports.

I hope you have enjoyed this podcast. As always, I love reading your comments so please leave me a comment on the site or a rating or a review on Apple podcasts. I love to hear from you and any comments or suggestions you have. Thank you also to those of you that have bought me a coffee. I really appreciate it.

If you are interested in joining my beta conversation course please do get in touch or if you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you so please visit and say hello.

Thanks for listening.

Show CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment

I accept the Privacy Policy