When it comes to sports, the Spanish-speaking world is truly in a league of its own.
Spain and Latin America are famous worldwide for their legendary soccer teams.
Spanish speakers also dominate in a variety of other sports, ranging from tennis to volleyball.
If you’ve ever dreamed of playing a pick-up game of béisbol in the Dominican Republic or watching fútbol at a bar in Spain, we’re confident these words and phrases will help you reach your goooooool in no time.
Why You Should Learn Spanish Sports Vocabulary
Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suárez once said, “In Latin America the border between soccer and politics is vague. There is a long list of governments that have fallen or been overthrown after the defeat of the national team.”
It is nearly impossible to overstate the cultural significance of fútbol. In societies that spent much of the 20th century divided by race and class, the “Beautiful Game” was a way to bring entire nations together in pursuit of a common interest.
Soccer remains a key part of the national cultures of many Spanish-speaking countries, but Spain and Latin America complement it with an astounding amount of athletic diversity. Baseball is the most popular sport in much of the Caribbean, for example, and basketball has been gaining popularity throughout much of Latin America in recent years.
Sports are an excellent entryway into the rich cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, and the 66 words and phrases on our list below are a great place to start.
How to Learn More Spanish Sports Vocabulary
The beautiful thing about learning a language is that it can be integrated into just about any hobby. Whether you love cooking, podcasts or crossword puzzles, it’s easy to make Spanish a part of your daily life.
In this sense, sports fans have plenty of options. You could watch soccer with legendary Spanish commentary, talk to a native speaker about your favorite team or even play an immersion-themed pickup game with fellow learners. The possibilities are truly endless! And not only will you be having fun, but you’ll be learning another language while doing it.
Univision Deportes regularly posts video clips and articles about international sports, as do FOX Deportes and ESPN Deportes. In addition to being a great way to practice your Spanish, these websites are a great way to learn more about the many sports teams of Latin America and Spain.
More in the mood for a sports-themed TV show? Check out “Club de Cuervos” (“Club of Crows”), the first-ever Spanish-language Netflix original series.
If you’re looking for sports content in an environment geared toward learners, look no further than FluentU!
FluentU takes real-world videos, like music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks, and turns them into Spanish learning experiences.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos—topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies and even magical realism, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. 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 vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. 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 it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store for iOS and Android devices.
Spanish Sports Vocabulary: 66 Words and Phrases Every Athlete Needs to Know
Let’s start by reviewing the names of some popular sports. Most sports in Spanish are masculine nouns, so you shouldn’t have to strain too hard to remember the genders.
El fútbol — Soccer
El fútbol americano — Football
El béisbol — Baseball
El baloncesto — Basketball
El golf — Golf
El hockey — Hockey
El tenis — Tennis
El voleibol — Volleyball
If you want to say that you play one of these sports, you need to use the verb jugar followed by the preposition a and the name of the sport. In the present tense, jugar is a u → ue stem-changing verb. This means that the conjugations are as follows:
Juego — I play
Juegas — You play
Juega — He/she plays
Jugamos — We play
Jugáis — You guys play
Juegan — They play
In the preterite tense, jugar is only irregular in the yo form, conjugated as yo jugué.
Now we’re ready to look at a few examples:
Juegan al fútbol en el parque todos los días. — They play soccer in the park every day.
Jugué al tenis ayer por un rato. — I played tennis for a while yesterday.
Just like in English, there are certain sports that are not “played,” and therefore have their own verbs associated with them:
Luchar — To wrestle/To fight
Correr — To run
Nadar — To swim
Esquiar — To ski
Where Sports Are Played
Now that we know how to say that we play some sports, we’re ready to talk about where we play them. Keep in mind that, to say that you’re at any of these locations, you need to use the verb estar.
La cancha — Field/Court
If you play it on a field or a court in English, you probably play it on a cancha in Spanish. Soccer field? La cancha de fútbol. Basketball court? La cancha de baloncesto.
La pista — Track/Rink
Another versatile word, pista usually means track or rink. In Spain, la pista de tenis can be used to refer to a tennis court, but in Latin America you’re better off sticking with la cancha de tenis.
La piscina — Pool
This is the standard way to refer to a swimming pool, and can either be interior (indoors) or al aire libre (outdoors).
Here are a few other sporting locations:
El campo de golf — Golf course
El estadio — Stadium
El gimnasio — Gym
El partido — Game/Match
La carrera — Race
El torneo — Tournament
La Copa Mundial — World Cup
Los Juegos Olímpicos — The Olympic Games
La pelota — Ball
El disco — Puck/Disc
El arco — Goal
La red — Net
El bate — Bat
La raqueta — Racket
El guante de béisbol — Baseball glove
El casco — Helmet
Las espinilleras — Shin guards
Los zapatos de fútbol — Soccer cleats
Patear — To kick
Saltar — To jump
Parar — To stop/To block
Balancear — To swing
Servir — To serve
Rematar / Remachar — To spike
Pegar — To hit
Driblar / Regatear — To dribble
Tirar — To throw
Agarrar — To catch
Ganar — To win
Perder — To lose
Empatar — To tie
El árbitro — Referee
El entrenador — Coach
El jugador — Player
El portero — Goalie
El defensa — Defender
El centrocampista — Midfielder
El delantero — Forward
El pícher / El lanzador — Pitcher
El receptor — Catcher
El primera base — First baseman
El campocorto — Shortstop
El jardinero — Outfielder
El base — Point guard
El escolta — Shooting guard
El alero — Small forward
El ala-pívot — Power forward
El pívot — Center
Questions About Sports
Many sports-related questions involve some form of the verb ir in the present tense. As a quick refresher, here are the conjugations:
Voy — I go
Vas — You go
Va — He goes
Vamos — We go
Váis — You guys go
Van — They go
Also, keep an eye out for some Spanish question words that might be familiar.
¿Con qué equipo vas? — Which team are you rooting for?
¿Cómo van? — What’s the score?
¿Quién va ganando? — Who’s winning?
It may feel strange to see the gerund following a verb that’s not estar, but native speakers frequently use ir to imply that the event in question is progressing over time. ¿Quién está ganando? is also a valid way to ask the question.
Getting better at Spanish is a lot like getting better at a sport. You need to practice, but it’s easy to have fun while doing so.
With some hard work and determination, you’ll be a pro in no time!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.