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IELTS Vocabulary | Speaking: Sports Phrasal Verbs

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Whether you're speaking about sports in the IELTS exam or with your friends, you'll need to use phrasal verbs to sound natural in your conversations. Look through the list below and practise making sentences by answering the questions at the bottom. I encourage you to share your answers in the comments - I'll try to check/correct them.

Vocabulary & Sample Sentences

1. Take up

To take up something means to start an activity, especially as a hobby or for personal interest.

My sister took up the piano when she was in university - no one expected her to do so well and become a YouTube sensation. I've always believed in her so I was ecstatic!

2. Stick with

To stick with something means to continue and persevere with something even when things are hard.

When he first started swimming, he had a difficult time going faster. He stuck with it though. For months, he placed his trust in his coach and training until he finally reached his goal.

3. Try out for

To audition or compete for a position in a sports team, especially in a school setting.

He tried out for the football team with low expectations, so he almost choked on his drink when they told him he made the varsity team.

4. Be into

To be interested or involved in a particular activity, typically sports, music, the arts.

He's really into sports.

She's really into gymnastics - even after retiring, she continues to follow news updates on different competitions.

5. Join in

To participate in an activity with a group of people.

We were playing volleyball at the beach when Jack and his friends asked if he could join us. "The more the merrier," we said.

6. Root for

To show support for someone (or something), usually used in reference to sports teams.

They were both rooting for different teams during the finals for the Champions League. I don't have to tell you that by the end, only one of them was smiling.

7. Warm up

To stretch and move different parts of your body before doing a physical activity or exercising. This is also to help your heart rate increase at a gradual rate.

I forgot to warm up before the spinning class the other day, I ended up straining my calf. It was so embarrassing!

8. Cool down

To stretch and move different parts of your body after doing a physical activity or exercising. This is also to help your heart rate lower at a gradual rate.

The best athletes know that the cool down is just as important as the warm up. Your muscles and heart need time to go back to their resting state.

9. Work out

To exercise

Jane makes time every Wednesday to work out with her sister - it also gives them a chance to catch up with one another. She started doing this after moving out for university.

Note: "workout" (with no space in between) is a noun.

10. Tone up

To increase muscle mass

Everyone thought I wanted to get slimmer, the truth is that I just wanted to tone up and become stronger. I felt good to gain strength that helped me climb better.

11. Burn off

To get rid of calories usually through physical exercise, especially cardio workouts.

He overate during his birthday weekend. He didn't mind gaining weight but felt a bit sluggish during the week. So he did an extra 30 mins during each workout to burn off any excess calories.

Practice Questions

  1. Do you enjoy working out? Why or why not? If not, what would help you enjoy sports more?

  2. Have you tried to join in an activity with a group of strangers? Why or why not? Would you do that in the future?

  3. If you can only warm up or cool down, which would you choose? Why?

  4. Have you ever rooted for a sports team? What about a contestant or a celebrity in a reality show or competition?

  5. Do you enjoy working out alone or with friends? Why?

  6. Do you have a sport that you stuck with during the pandemic? Some people took up walking, others worked out with stationary bikes at home. How do you keep fit?

What are your thoughts on these questions?

Leave your comments and answers down below!



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