How to Talk Sports in French

You'll love learning major French terms for basketball, golf, and more

Are you that fan of European sports who gets up in the wee hours to watch games in France? Even if you just love sports in general or want to know more about talking sports in French, we've got you covered.

We have the names of the sports, the verbs to use with each, and the terms for players (usually with both masculine and feminine forms), equipment, and playing fields. It's a long, extraordinarily useful list, so buckle up.

Note that we discuss exceptionally popular French sports like soccer, tennis, and cycling elsewhere on their own pages; just click the links.

Many of the words below are linked to .wav files. Simply click on the link to hear the correct pronunciation and then repeat it a few times to commit it to memory.

Here we go with essential terms for basketball, golf, hockey, skiing, and more.

Names of Sports (Noms de sports)

Note that, in many instances, the French and English words are nearly identical.

archeryle tir à l'arc
baseballle base-ball
basketball (specific terms below)le basket
biking or cyclingle cyclisme
boxingla boxe
divingla plongée
fishingla pêche
footballle football américain
golf (specific terms below)le golf
(ice) hockey (specific terms below)le hockey (sur glace)
joggingle jogging
sailingla voile
skatingle patinage
rollerskatingle patin à roulettes or le skating 
skiing (specific terms below)le ski
cross-country skiingle ski de randonnée or le ski de fond
downhill skiingle ski de descente or le ski de piste
water skiingle ski nautique
soccer le foot(ball)
swimmingla natation
tennis le tennis
volleyballle volley(ball)
wrestlingla lutte

The French Verbs Used With Sports

In French, playing or doing sports is normally expressed with jouer au or faire.

1. Jouer au ("to play"): Just add the name of the sport after the verb, like this:

  • to play golf > jouer au golf
  • to play hockey > jouer au hockey

Sports That Use 'Jouer au'

to play... jouer au...
...  baseball... base-ball
...  basketball... basket
... soccer... foot(ball)
... football... football américain
... golf... golf
... hockey... hockey
... tennis... tennis
... volleyball... volley(ball)

2. Faire ("to do"): The verb is usually followed by de + article + noun, like this:

  • to swim > faire de la natation
  • to do archery >  faire du tir à l'arc

There are exceptions where just the noun is used, without the partitive and article. For example:

  • to hike > faire une randonnée

Some sports also have their own verb, which is a one-word verb form of the noun. Those are listed in the right-hand column below. For example:

  • to wrestle > faire de la lutte or lutter

Notice that le golf can use either jouer au or faire and is on both lists.
But, la pêche uses neither of these verbs and goes on a separate list with aller, as in aller à la pêche ("to go fishing"), or it's used with its own verb pêcher ("to fish").

Sports That Use 'Faire'

to do... faire...or this
to boxde la boxeboxer
to ride a horsedu cheval 
to bikedu cyclisme or monter sur bicycletterouler
to golfdu golf 
to jogdu jogging 
to wrestlede la luttelutter
to swimde la natationnager
to skatedu patin(age)patiner
to inline skatedu patin à roulettes or du skating 
to divede la plongéeplonger
to skidu skiskier
to downhill skidu ski de descente or du ski de piste 
to cross country skidu ski de randonnée or du ski de fond 
to water skidu ski nautique 
to shoot archerydu tir à l'arc 
to sailde la voile 
to hikeune randonnée 

But 'la Pêche' Uses 'Aller'

to go...aller...or this
to go fishingà la pêchepêcher

Basketball (Le Basket)

If you like basketball, you'll enjoy learning essential basketball terms. You can practice these words while playing or watching your teams. Learning a language is like sports: The more you practice, the better you get.

Basketball Team

basketball teaméquipe de basket
basketball playerbasketteur (m) or basktteuse (f)
guardarrière
offensive playerattaquant
jumpersauteur

Basketball Equipment 

equipmentmatériel
basketballballon de basket
courtterrain de jeu
basketpanier
opponent's basketpanier adverse
rim, ringanneau
backboardpanneau

Basketball Action

to catch the ballattraper le ballon
to blockbloquer
to dribbledribbler
to steal the ballintercepter le ballon
to handle the ballmanier le ballon
to guard a playermarquer un joueur
to passpasser

Golf (Le Golf)

You could practice this vocabulary the next time you hit the links.

Golf Players

golferjoueur de golf or golfeur (m)
joeuse de golf or golfeuse (f)
foursomequatuor

The Golf Course

golf courseterrain / parcours de golf
greens feedroit de jeu
driving rangeterrain d'exercice
fairwayallée
grass bunkerfosse d'herbe
sand trapfosse de sable
waste bunkerfosse naturelle
water hazardobstacle d'eau
greenvert
holetrou

Golf Equipment 

equipmentmatériel
golf bagsac de golf
caddiecadet(te)
cartchariot, voiturette de golf
golf ballballe de golf
ball markerrepère
golf glovegant de golf
set of clubsjeu de bâtons de golf
golf clubclub, crosse, canne (de golf)
woodbois
ironfer
driverbois n° 1
pitching wedgecocheur d'allée
sand wedgecocheur de sable
putterfer droit

Golf Action

to golffaire du golf or jouer au golf
tee
tee markerjalon de départ
handicaphandicap
golf strokecoup de golf
swingélan
backswingmontée
half swingdemi-élan
chipapproche roulé
pitchapproche lobé
divotmotte de gazon

The Golf Score

score cardcarte de pointage
parnormale
birdieoiselet
bogeyboguey
double bogeyboguey double
eagleaigle
double eaglealbatros
hole in onetrou d'un coup

The Golf Ball

ball trajectorytrajectoire de balle
hookcrochet de gauche
slicecrochet de droite
drawléger crochet de gauche
fadeléger crochet de droite

Hockey (Le Hockey)

Ice hockey, a popular sport in French-speaking Canada and elsewhere, has a special set of terms.

Notice that when we speak of hockey players, French-speaking Canadians tend to use a different word than the French do. Both terms will be understood in both countries.

Hockey Players

hockey player

hockeyeur/euse (France)
joueur/euse de hockey (Canada)
goaliegardien de but
opponentadversaire

The Hockey Rink 

rinkpatinoire
goalbut or cage
goal creaseterritoire de but

Hockey Equipment

equipmentmatériel
hockey stickcrosse de hockey
puckpalet
helmetcasque protecteur
face maskprotecteur facial
glovegant
skatepatin

Hockey Action

to play hockeyjouer au hockey
to checkmettre en échec
to clear the puckdégager le palet
to score a goalmarquer un but
to shootlancer or tirer

Skiing (Le Ski)

Skiing is another popular sport in many French-speaking countries.

Types of Skiing and Skiers

to skifaire du ski or skier
cross-country skiingski de fond
downhill skiingski de descente or ski aval
cross-country skierskieur de fond or fondeur
downhill skierdescendeur
forerunnerouvreur de piste
freestylelibre
classicalclassique
jumpingsaut
downhilldescente
giant slalomslalom géant
slalomslalom
super-Gsuper géant

Skiing Equipment

equipmentmatériel
hatbonnet
headbandserre-tête or bandeau
goggleslunettes
glovegant
ski polebâton de ski
skisskis
bootchaussure
coverbootsurchaussure
bindingfixation

On the Hill

ski courseparcours de ski
trailpiste
marked coursepiste balisée
hilltremplin or piste de saut
start platformplate-forme de départ
length of the traillongueur de la piste
flagfanion or drapeau
jumptremplin
mogulbosse
finish timetemps à l'arrivée
control pointposte de contrôle
gateporte
Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Lawless, Laura K. "How to Talk Sports in French." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2017, thoughtco.com/french-vocabulary-learn-to-talk-sports-4079654. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, August 29). How to Talk Sports in French. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/french-vocabulary-learn-to-talk-sports-4079654 Lawless, Laura K. "How to Talk Sports in French." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/french-vocabulary-learn-to-talk-sports-4079654 (accessed November 18, 2017).