The Olympics is very much the event of the armchair pundit, as you develop expertise in sports you previously knew absolutely nothing about.

Here are a few technical terms to get you started as you rip to shreds the technique of an expert in a sport you’ve never heard of.

Diving: Over rotation

(Dave Thompson/PA)

Your experience of diving extends no further than having watched Omid Djalili and Una from the Saturdays humiliate themselves on Splash!, but don’t let that stop you unleashing your inner armchair expert when you’re backing Tom Daley in his quest for gold. The key to seeming like you know what you’re talking about is to accuse every diver of either “over rotation” or “under rotation” as they enter the water. It means they’ve spun too much, or not enough, so they create a bigger splash than they ought to.

How to say it: Thoughtfully and sympathetically – it’s what divers dread.

Volleyball: Spike

(Silvia Izquierdo/AP)

It’s difficult to watch beach volleyball without people thinking you’re some low-level perv who can’t conceive a better way of seeing a woman in a bikini than tuning in to watch the Olympics’ fleshiest sport. It’s key, then, to have the lingo down. The main three shots in volleyball are the dig, the set and, most importantly, the spike. This is volleyball’s version of the tennis smash, and it’s the game’s most attacking shot – as it ought to be with a name like that.

How to say it: Aggressively, like you’re baying for blood.

Judo: Waza-ari


Few sports boast the wealth of complicated and very specific terminology that judo does. You’ve got your ippon, you’ve got your tai otoshi, you’ve got your o goshi. And not forgetting of course the waza-ari, which, put simply, is like an ippon but not quite as good. Clear? Excellent.

How to say it: Tentatively.

Hockey: 16

(Bullit Marquez/AP)

No, this is not the age you were when you were last forced to pick up a hockey stick by a sadistic PE teacher – this is a free hit from the edge of the D after the ball goes out of play off the back line. It creates a decent chance to score, and an even better chance for you to throw in a bit of hockey jargon like you know what you’re talking about.

How to say it: Casually, like you’re not having chilling flashbacks to school.

BMX: Holeshot

(Sergey Ponomarev/AP)

If you think this sounds rude, that’s down to your own dirty mind and is not the fault of the dignified sport of BMX. A holeshot is a strong start which puts one racer ahead of the field, obviously. So please join us in hoping Liam Phillips gets plenty of holeshots in Rio.

How to say it: Without sniggering.