Welcome to all sports fans! From Spanish soccer stadiums to basketball arenas in Argentina, Spanish echoes with its own unique rhythm.  I am not only referring to the choruses of ultras in the stands, but also to the rich sports vocabulary underlying this passion. If you’ve already wondered why they say “chilena” or “dar cera,” you’re in the right place. Get ready for this linguistic journey through “Spanish in the world of sports.” We at iNMSOL will be your guide.

lenguaje deportivo español


Soccer: the king of sports 

It is a must to start with the most popular sport with the most fans: soccer. Some example of Spanish soccer sports vocabulary:

  • Chilena: It is not a nationality, it is a spectacular stunt with which the soccer player strikes the ball in the air, making a complete turn. 
  • Dar cera: an expression that means to press the opponent intensely 
  • Mano a mano: situation in which a player stands alone in front of the goalkeeper
  • Regatear: the art of dribbling opponents with skill and dexterity.

Basketball: between hoops and triples

Although not as popular as soccer, basketball has its own technical language:

  • Triple: successful shot made from behind the three-point line 
  • Pivotar: moving and meanwhile keeping one foot firmly on the ground
  • Taponar: blocking an opponent’s shot 
  • Encestar: make a basket


Local sports: tradition and culture 

Among the lands of Hispanic countries, there are traditional sports that have developed their own lexicon. 

  • Pelota vasca: originating in the Basque Country, it involves terms such as “frontón” (the wall against which the ball is hit” and “basket-poke” (a variant in which a larger basket is used)
  • Charrería in Mexico: this equestrian sport has terms such as “charro” (the jockey) and “suerte” (the different trials)

Common phrases that unite us

Whether watching a game live or on television, these words are universal in Spanish sports vocabulary. 

  • ¡Vamos!:A shout of encouragement that resonates in any stadium.
  • ¡Eso es falta!:The expression of indignation when the referee does not whistle a foul.
  • “Nos robaron”: classic complaint when the team loses, for which the referee is allegedly to blame.

Frequently asked questions 

  • Why is futbol called “soccer” in some countries? This word comes from the term “association football” in English and was used in countries such as the United States to differentiate it from American football.
  • Do all Hispanic countries use the same sports terms? Although there are many similarities, each country has its own expressions and idioms. What is called “balón” in Mexico is “pelota” in some places in Spain.
  • How do new terms arise in sports? Language is dynamic! Commentators, players, and fans are often creative, so they give birth to new words and expressions.


Sports is more than a physical activity: it is culture, tradition, and clearly language. Through sports vocabulary in Spanish, we can not only understand the rules of the game, but also the soul and passion of Hispanics. Screaming after a goal or cheering at a tennis point, our words reflect our history, our diversity, and our love of sports. And remember that it is not only important to win, but also to tell it!

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