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French Sports Vocabulary #1 Best Guide

We’re here to learn all about French sports vocabulary! So here’s the first lesson. What is sports in French? It’s des sports which translates to the sports. However the French word for sport is simply sport, which is nice and easy. Just say it with a French accent.

Due to the geography of France and varying climates from cold mountain regions to the Mediterranean sea, the French are able to participate in a full smattering of sports. Of course, French is spoken in more than 29 countries around the world making it important to know French sports vocabulary so you can join in events and make friends more easily.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the most popular sports played by people in France. Then we’ll find out what other sports are called in French and go over some French sports verbs and how to talk about sports as well.

How To Say Popular French Sports In French

The sports included below are deemed most popular based on how many people in France actually play these sports. So you may be wondering why cycling is there. Isn’t France known to be great at that sport? Well, yes they are and have won the most tours of the Tour De France and also obviously host the race, but generally, cycling isn’t that popular among the general population.

Here’s a list of the top seven sports played by people in France.

  1. Football (Le football)
French sports vocabulary football

Pretty well everywhere in Europe refers to soccer as football and it’s also the most popular sport played by people in France. Both the men’s and women’s teams are heavily supported. In 2019 France even hosted the women’s World Cup which was a great success.

France itself has won the World Cup twice in 1998 against Brazil and again in 2018 against Croatia.  

  1. Tennis (Le tennis)
French sports vocabulary tennis

France hosts a popular tennis event on par with Wimbledon called The French Open. The competition attracts the world’s best tennis players and attracts millions of spectators within France and internationally.

In fact, more than one million people in France say they play tennis recreationally or professionally. So if you’re in France looking to make fast friends, tennis is the place to start!

3. Horse Riding (l’équitation)

French sports vocabulary horse riding

It turns out France is famous for breeding race horses and pedigree horses within the regions of Normandy and Forez. France also hosts prestigious races such as the Arcs de Triomphe in Paris and the infamous Jockey-Club that takes place in Chantilly.

The wealthier French are known to take equestrian lessons and a surprising amount of people (more than 670,000 people) are reported as being active riders.

  1. Basketball (Le basketball)
French sports vocabulary basketball

While on a national level France doesn’t have teams across the country like they do in North America, France does have a fairly successful track record of getting French players into the NBA. Within France, the national team is known to be competitive and actually won against the USA in 2019 in the basketball World Cup.

Across France, you will see public basketball courts and many people enjoying this sport as a pastime or hobby. Over 600,000 people play basketball in France!

5. Judo/jujitsu (Le Judo/le jiu-jitsu)

French sports vocabulary combat sports

Martial arts in France are quite popular. The more popular sports are judo and jujitsu. Combat sports are perfect for young and older participants and so attract a large amount of people.

On a national level, France boasts some of the best martial artists in the world bringing home three world championships multiple times over the years.

  1. Handball (Le handball)
French sports vocabulary handball

Handball, which was arguably invented in Scandinavia (but don’t tell Germany that), is actually the sport France is best at. For the past twenty years, they have been actively competing against the Nordic nations and winning.

France boasts being a six-time world champion, they’ve won the Olympics twice and the European championships three times. Both the men’s and women’s teams are really good at this sport and the public has shown a tremendous interest in this sport as well enjoying it as a hobby.

7. Rugby (Le rugby)

French sports vocabulary rugby

Within France, rugby is very popular to watch as a spectator sport, but also to play. Largely played by men within southern France (and Paris too), France is one of the best teams in Europe. They have even been known to beat the All Blacks, the infamous New Zealand team, and have made it to the Rugby World Cup finals three times.

What Are Other Sports Names In French Called?

sports vocabulary in French

Besides the most popular sports, what are the names of sports you’re more familiar with in French? There are so many sports in the world and we’ve tried to categorize them here to make it easier to find the sport name in French that you’re looking for. Obviously, we didn’t include every sport in the world, and if you’d like to see one added to the list, please comment below!

Indoor Sports

These are the sorts of sports you can expect to be able to join in all year round.

EnglishFrench TranslationPronunciation
DanceLa danse
GymnasticsLa gymnastique
Shootingle tir
Table tennis/Pingpongle tennis de table
Weightliftingl’haltérophilie

Team Sports

Want to make some friends and join a team? Competitive at heart? Then these are the sports for you!

EnglishFrench TranslationPronunciation
American footballle football américain
Baseballle baseball
Basketballle basketball
Handballle handball
Hockeyla hockey
Rugbyla rugby
Sailingla voile
Volleyballla volley-ball
Football/soccerle football

Winter Sports

Brrr… While not every French-speaking country gets snow or even gets cold, places such as up in the French Alps enjoy a great outdoor winter sport atmosphere.

EnglishFrench TranslationPronunciation
Cross country skiingle ski de fond
Downhill skiingle ski de descente, le ski alpin
Figure skatingLe patinage artistique
Ice climbingl’escalade glaciaire
Lugela luge
Mountaineeringl’alpinisme
Speed skatingle patinage de vitesse

Combat Sports

Hay- yah! Self-defense, offense, just for fun! Whatever floats your boat, here are the most common martial arts in French.

EnglishFrench TranslationPronunciation
Boxingla boxe
Combat sportsles sports de combat
Fencingl’escrime
Judole judo
Jujjitsule jiu-jitsu
Karatele karaté
Kickboxingle kick-boxing
Martial artsles arts martiaux
Taekwondole taekwondo
Wrestlingla lutte

Summer Sports

Ah summer. Sports in summer are just the best! Here are some common summer sports for you to know in French.

EnglishFrench TranslationPronunciation
Cyclingle cyclisme
Divingle plongeon
Fishingla pêche
Golfle golf
Horse ridingl’équitation
Paraglidingle parpente
Rowingl’aviron
Skateboardingle skate skateboard
Skydivingle parachutisme
Surfingle surf
Swimmingla natation
Tennisla tennis
Trackla course
Water skiiingle ski nautique
White water raftingle rafting

What Are Sports Players Called In French?

sports players in French

So what do we call a hockey player or a basketball player in French? Let’s find out along with some other popular sports player names.

EnglishFrench Translation (For men)PronunciationFrench Translation (For women)Pronunciation
A teamUne équipe Une équipe féminine
A badminton playerUn joueur de badminton Une joueuse de badminton
A basketball playerUn basketteur
Une basketteuse
A coachUn coach Une entraîneuse
A football playerUn joueur de football Une joueuse de football
A handball playerUn handballeur Une handballeuse
A hockey playerUn joueur de hockey Une joueuse de hockey
A martial artistUn artiste martial Une artiste martiale féminine
A playerUn joueur Une joueuse
A tennis playerUn joueur de tennis Une joueuse de tennis
A volleyball playerUn volleyeur Une volleyeuse
A wrestlerUn lutteur Une lutteuse

Have A Conversation About Sports In French

Here are some simple questions and answers you can use to fit into the sports culture in France, no matter what your taste in sports is! Knowing how to greet someone in French is the first step and you’ll be off from there.

Q: Which sports do you play? (Quels sports pratiques-tu?)

A: I play soccer (insert sport) (Je joue au foot)

Q. Which sports do you like to watch? (Quels sports aimez-vous regarder?)

A: I like to watch team sports (insert sport) (J’aime regarder les sports d’équipe)

Q: Who’s your favorite player? (Quel est ton joueur préféré?)

A: My favorite player is… (insert name) (Mon joueur préféré est)

Q: Which football team do you cheer for? (Quelle équipe de football encouragez-vous?)

A: I cheer for … (insert team name) (J’encourage)

Q: Would you like to watch the French Open (insert sport or sporting event)? (Aimeriez-vous regarder Roland-Garros?)

A: Sure! (Bien sûr!)

A: No. I’d rather watch soccer (insert sport) (Non, je préfère regarder le football)

Q: Have you ever been to the Tour De France before? (Avez-vous déjà participé au Tour de France?)

A: No! But I’d like to go (Non! Mais j’aimerais y aller)

Sport Verbs in French

Also of importance is knowing verbs, sports are all about actions after all! Here are some common verbs to help you discuss sports in French no matter where you are in the world.

EnglishFrench TranslationPronunciation
To catchAttraper
To cheerAcclamer
To competeSe battre
To exerciseFaire de l’exercice
To fightS’affronter
To hitFrapper
To ice skateDe patinage
To jumpSauter
To keep scoreCompter les points
To kickDonner un coup de pied
To losePerdre
To passPasser
To punchDonner un coup de poing
To scoreMarquer
To stretchS’étirer
To swimNager
To tacklePlaquer
To throwLancer / Jeter
To timeChronométrer
To winGagner

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