Hard: On the sidelines
Premier Vocabulary is a mini-podcast for you to learn football English one word at a time. We have three different levels for you: easy, medium and hard.
This episode is hard so we’re looking at more difficult football phrases and idioms.
Learn more football vocabulary with Premier Skills English. Each lesson in our Premier Vocabulary section looks at one football word or phrase. This lesson looks at the phrase on the sidelines.
You can find more lessons on the side of this page.
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich and welcome to Premier Skills English - Premier Vocabulary.
Rowan: Hi there! I’m Rowan. We’re here to help you with your football English. Premier Vocabulary is a mini-podcast for you to learn football English one word at a time.
Rich: We have three different levels for you: easy, medium and hard.
Rowan: This episode is hard so we’re looking at more difficult football phrases and idioms.
Rich: The phrase we are looking at in this episode is: on the sidelines.
Rowan: On the sidelines is an idiom that has its origins in sport and we’ll look at the meaning of the idiom in a minute but first let’s look at the word sideline.
Rich: There are two sidelines on sports pitches or sports fields.
Rowan: Sidelines are the lines that go along the long side of a sports pitch or field.
Rich: In football, if the ball crosses the sideline a throw-in will be given.
Rowan: But we don’t usually use the word sideline - we say touchline.
Rich: That’s right. Sideline is more common in American English and touchline is usually used in British English.
Rowan: It’s the same with pitch and field and football and soccer.
Rich: In American English, they use soccer, field and sideline.
Rowan: In British English, we say football, pitch and touchline.
Rich: You can usually see coaches and managers on the touchline or the sideline shouting instructions.
Rowan: But they can’t actually play - they can’t get involved in the action on the pitch.
Rich: No, and that’s the key to understanding how on the sidelines is used as an idiom.
Rowan: So we can literally say that a coach or manager is on the sideline shouting instructions at their players.
Rich: But, we use the phrase in more general conversation as an idiom and it has a non-literal meaning. It means to be watching something but not actually involved in it.
Rowan: We can use both on the sidelines and from the sidelines and they have similar meanings.
Rowan: And we don’t have to be talking about sport or football to use on the sidelines. Let’s look at some examples:
Rich: Jordan Henderson had to watch the end of Liverpool’s season from the sidelines because he had a knee injury.
Rowan: Many countries decided to remain on the sidelines during the war.
Rich: Yeah, they were having a massive argument right in front of me. I thought it’d be better to stay on the sidelines.
Rowan: To be on the sidelines. To watch or know about something without getting directly involved.
Rich: There is the final whistle!
Rowan: We’ll be back soon with more Premier Vocabulary from Premier Skills English.
Rich: Bye for now and enjoy your football.
Can you name a player who's been on the sidelines for a long time?
Have you ever felt that it's better to be on the sidelines and not get involved?