Sports in German: 150+ Core Vocabulary to Get You Up to Speed
Football, handball, tennis, cycling, skiing, ice hockey—these are some of the most popular sports in German-speaking countries.
Do you know how to say them in German?
That’s what this guide is for! Read on for essential sports vocabulary, from names of common sports to conversational phrases that’ll help you talk about sports with German speakers.
After all, you never know when you can connect with someone who has the same hobby!
- Names of Sports in German
- Verbs Used in Sports
- Sports Equipment in German
- German Vocabulary for Sports Games
- Sports-Related Slang and Expressions
- Talking About Sports in German
- Sports in German Culture
- And One More Thing...
Names of Sports in German
Just like in English, German also uses the word Sport. There are a lot of Sportarten or types of sports in German, including ball sports, fitness activities and even mind sports, and we’ll cover the vocabulary for these below. Whatever your favorite sport is, you’ll likely find it here!
Football or soccer is undeniably the most popular sport ever in Germany. In fact, the country’s national team has won four world cups, and fans even travel in large numbers to both local and international games. Handball and motor racing have dedicated followings too.
|cycling (as a sport)
|track and field
If you’re a football fan, check out this list of football-specific vocabulary:
Ball sports are called Ballsportarten in German. Aside from the ball sports below, Germany actually has a traditional ball sport called Faustball (fistball)—it’s a lot like volleyball, except you hit the ball with your fist.
|table tennis, ping-pong
|der American Football
For water sports, the German term is Wassersportarten . Germany, Austria and Switzerland all have plenty of rivers and lakes, with North Germany being well-known for its long coastlines.
Fitness and Athletics
Germans are fond of their fitness, from hiking and jogging to yoga and cycling.
Most often, you’ll simply see the word Sport used to refer to exercise of this sort, whether that be in the gym or out jogging in the park.
Luckily, many of these can be easier to remember because some of them are the same as in English.
Martial arts in German are called Kampfkünste or Kampfsportarten. Although they’re not from a German-speaking country, you’ll still find quite a lot of options in Germany for judo, karate and taekwondo, as well as boxing.
|das Krav Maga
|das Muay Thai
Germany, Austria and Switzerland all have diverse landscapes, so you’ll be able to try out extreme sports ( Extremsportarten in these countries. Skydiving is especially popular since there are several drop zones with breath-taking views over the countryside and the Alps.
|downhill mountain biking
We’re not yet done with our lists of sports! Germany holds a lot of dance festivals and competitions throughout the year, and there are hundreds of chess clubs across the country too.
|das Ultimate Frisbee
Verbs Used in Sports
When talking about German sports, you’ll definitely end up using verbs:
Sports Equipment in German
A lot of sports equipment names in German are very direct and descriptive. For example, Handschuhe literally translates to “hand shoes” (gloves). After all, German is known for having unique compound words (sometimes with quirky meanings).
|racket or bat
German Vocabulary for Sports Games
When you’re watching a sports game in German, you’ll need very specific vocabulary. It also enhances the experience—once your favorite team scores a goal, you can celebrate by shouting “Tor!” along with the crowd or fellow fans.
|der Spieler / Spielerin
|der Trainer/die Trainerin
|der Schiedsrichter/die Schiedsrichterin
|tie or draw
Sports-Related Slang and Expressions
Even when the topic isn’t sports, you might still hear about them in conversations because they’re used in common expressions. Some of these even sound quite similar to their English counterparts:
|ins Schwarze treffen
|to hit the bullseye (both literally and figuratively)
|das Runde muss ins Eckige
|the ball must go into the square (used in soccer to mean scoring a goal)
|eine Klatsche kriegen
|to get a thrashing (to lose by a large margin)
|auf dem Holzweg sein
|to be on the wrong track (making a wrong assumption)
|jemandem die Daumen drücken
|to keep one’s fingers crossed for someone
|ein Eigentor schießen
|to score a goal against one's own team (can also mean to accidentally harm one’s own cause)
|auf die Nase fallen
|to fall flat on one’s face (to fail)
|am Ball bleiben
|to keep the ball rolling
|Kopf an Kopf
|neck-and-neck (very close competition)
|aus dem Rennen sein
|to be out of the race
|die zweite Luft bekommen
|to catch one’s second wind (to gain new energy after becoming tired)
Talking About Sports in German
Sports can help you connect better with German speakers, whether you’re looking for an ice-breaker or you want to invite to a game. Check out these conversational phrases:
|Spielst du Sport?
|Do you play sports/workout?
|Mein Lieblingssport ist...
|My favorite sport is...
|Ich spiele gerne...
|I like to play...
|Welchen Sport treibst du?
|What sport do you play?
|Ich bin ein Fan von...
|I am a fan of...
|Ich gehe ins Fitnessstudio.
|I go to the gym.
|Wer hat das Spiel gewonnen?
|Who won the game?
|Hast du das letzte Spiel gesehen?
|Did you watch the last game?
|Wir haben am Wochenende ein Spiel.
|We have a match this weekend.
|Spielst du in einer Mannschaft?
|Do you play in a team?
|Ich trainiere jeden Tag.
|I train every day.
|Welche Mannschaft unterstützt du?
|Which team do you support?
You can pick up more practical phrases like this on FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Let’s put all of these sports vocabulary together into a German conversation:
Lukas: Hey Anna, machst du Sport?
(Hey Anna, do you play any sports?)
Anna: “Klar, ich gehe oft schwimmen. Und du?”
(Sure, I often go swimming. What about you?)
Lukas: “Ich spiele Fußball in einem Verein, wir haben zweimal die Woche Training.”
(I play soccer at a club, we have training twice a week.)
Anna: Klingt super! Ich dachte immer, Fußball wäre nichts für mich, aber vielleicht sollte ich es doch versuchen. Wie lange spielst du schon?
(Sounds great! I always thought soccer wasn’t for me, but maybe I should try it. How long have you been playing?)
Lukas: “Seit ich klein war. Fußball ist meine Leidenschaft. Aber warum hast du dich für Schwimmen entschieden?”
(Since I was little. Soccer is my passion. But why did you choose swimming?)
Anna: Ich liebe Wasser und finde Schwimmen so entspannend. Es ist ein guter Ausgleich zu meinem Büro.
(I love water and swimming is so relaxing. It’s a good offset to my office job.)
Lukas: Verstehe ich. Übrigens, nächste Woche haben wir ein wichtiges Spiel. Hättest du Lust, vorbeizukommen und zuzuschauen??
(I understand. By the way, we have an important game next week. Fancy coming to watch?)
Anna: Gerne! Klingt lustig! Ich freue mich, dich spielen zu sehen!
(Sure, sounds fun! I’m looking forward to seeing you play!)
Sports in German Culture
As you can tell from this guide, sports are pretty common in Germany—plenty of people join sports clubs, and health and fitness are highly promoted. Aside from having a track record of achievements in sports, Germany hosts major sports events regularly, including world cups and international tournaments.
Some of the top sport events in Germany include:
- FIFA World Cup — Germany has hosted this international football tournament twice and won the championship four times.
- DFB-Pokal — This is an annual German football competition, where teams from various leagues compete, including the Bundesliga. It’s known for its exciting matches and sometimes surprising victories by underdog teams.
- Berlin Marathon — One of the world’s biggest marathons, the Berlin Marathon attracts runners from all over the globe. It’s known for having a flat, fast course that winds through the city.
In Austria, another German-speaking country, you also have the Hahnenkamm Race, an alpine skiing event with one of the most challenging downhill courses in the world. Switzerland hosts the prestigious Wengen Lauberhorn Ski Race, which is.one of the highlights of the World Cup skiing circuit.
Whether you’re a German learner or staying in a German-speaking country, sports are going to come up eventually in conversation.
This guide brings you up to speed with the basic German sports vocabulary. Try these out so you can talk about your favorite hobby or enjoy a game to the fullest in German!
And One More Thing...
Want to know the key to learning German effectively?
It's using the right content and tools, like FluentU has to offer! Browse hundreds of videos, take endless quizzes and master the German language faster than you've ever imagine!
Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive subtitles.
You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don't know, you can add it to a vocabulary list.
And FluentU isn't just for watching videos. It's a complete platform for learning. It's designed to effectively teach you all the vocabulary from any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you're learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.