75 Vocabulary Words for Talking About Sports in Italian

Supporters cheering on Italy at world soccer cup

When you think about sports in Italy, the first one that comes to mind is probably the infamous calcio, or soccer. And if you have spent any length of time obsessing about Italian culture or in Ital (or both) team names like Juventus and Gli Azzurri will come to mind. But beyond calcio, there are many popular sports played in Italy, and if you want to be able to talk about the sports that you practice (or practiced in those golden years of yours), here are 75 phrases to throw around in your Italian conversations.

75 Vocabulary Words for Talking About Sports in Italian

L’atletica - Athletics

Athletics is a more generic field that covers things like:

  • La corsa - Running
  • La corsa campestre - Cross-country
  • Il footing - Jogging
  • La marcia - Foot race
  • Il salto in alto - High jump
  • Il salto in lungo - Long jump

-- Faccio corso campestre. - I run cross-country.

-- Facco la marcia perché è meno dannoso per il corpo rispetto alla corsa. - I do foot races because it’s less harmful for the body compared to running.

Il baseball - Baseball

While baseball isn’t hugely popular in Italy, it is present--with roots dating back to World War II--and there are leagues and a championship called Lo Scudetto.

Here are five vocabulary words you might find interesting:

  • Il fuoricampo - Homerun
  • Il guanto - Mitt
  • Il lanciatore - Pitcher
  • La mazza - Bat
  • La prima/seconda/terza base - First/second/third base

-- L’hai visto!? Ho battuto un fuoricampo! - Did you see it? I hit a homerun!

-- Quando avevo 9 anni, facevo il lanciatore. - When I was 9 years old, I was the pitcher.

For more vocabulary words and phrases related to baseball, check out this article.

Il ciclismo - Cycling

The Giro d’Italia (also simply called Il Giro) happens every summer and is ranked as one of the top three cycling events in Europe.

Here are five vocabulary words you might find interesting:

  • La bicicletta (la bici) - Bicycle (bike)
  • Il ciclismo su pista - Track cycling
  • Il ciclismo su strada - Road cycling
  • Il mountain biking - Mountain biking
  • La sella - Bike seat
  • La borraccia - Water bottle

-- Voglio iniziare a fare ciclismo, ma non riesco a trovare la bici giusta! - I want to start cycling, but I can’t find the right bike!

-- Preferisci le mountain bike, le BMX, oppure il ciclismo su strada? - Do you prefer mountain biking, BMX, or road cycling?

Il calcio - Soccer

Even if you’re not a big sports fan, attending a calcio game in Italy is a cultural must, so when you do that, here are a handful of words that may be useful to you.

  • I calciatori - Soccer players
  • I tifosi - Fans
  • La partita - Match
  • Il portiere - Goalie
  • L’arbitro - referee
  • La curva - Part of the stadium where the ultra (=hooligans) fans prefer to buy tickets
  • Segnare un gol - To score a goal

-- Il calcio è lo sport piu praticato e più seguito in tutta Italia. - Calcio is the most practiced and followed sport in all of Italy.

-- Il numero di calciatori variano di squadra in squadra, ma sicuramente sono più di undici. - The number of players vary from team to team, but there are definitely more than eleven. 

You may also hear about a game called calcio storico, or historical football, that dates back to the 16th century.

For more information related to il calcio, check out this article.

La ginnastica - Gymnastics

While the term “la ginnastica” can be translated to the English understanding of “gymnastics”, in Italian, it can also be thought of basic exercise and can often be substituted with “fare sport - to do a sport” or “andare in palestra - going to the gym.”

Here are five vocabulary words you might find interesting:

  • La ginnastica aerobica - Aerobic gymnastics
  • L’elasticità - Flexibility
  • La ginnastica ritmica - Rhythmic gymnastics
  • La ginnastica artistica - Artistic gymnastics
  • La ginnastica acrobatica - Acrobatic gymnastics

-- Faccio ginnastica, ma non dimagrisco! - I’m exercising, but I’m not losing weight!

-- Hai visto la ginnastica delle Olimpiadi ieri? Gabby Douglas era fantastica! - Did you see the gymnastics section of the Olympics yesterday? Gabby Douglas was amazing!

Il nuoto - Swimming

Here are 5 key vocabulary words:

  • Il costume da bagno - Swimming suit
  • Gli occhialini - Swim Goggles
  • La piscina - Pool
  • Nuotare a farfalla - Butterfly stroke swim
  • Nuotare a stile libero - Freestyle swim

Lo sci - Skiing

There are beautiful areas in Italy from the Italian Dolomites in the north to Mount Etna in the south.

Here are 5 key vocabulary words:

  • Le bacchette - Rods
  • La discesa - Descent
  • La neve - Snow
  • La pista - Track
  • Gli sci - Skis

-- Vai sulle Dolomiti quest’anno? Io, sì, infatti ho comprato un nuovo paio di sci. - Are you go to the Dolomites this year? I’m going, in fact, I bought a new pair of skis.

-- Mi piace sciare, ma a dire il vero, preferisco fare snowboarding. - I like to ski, but to tell the truth, I prefer to snowboard.

Other Sports

  • La danza - Dance
  • Il motociclismo - Motorcycling
  • La pallacanestro - Basketball
  • La pallavolo - Volleyball
  • La pesca sportiva - Recreational fishing
  • Il tennis - Tennis
  • L’equitazione - Horse riding