Anyone for a fartlek? Deciphering some of the weird and wonderful sports jargon...

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Slobber bar, rip entry, fartlek, whipping area... just some of the weird and wonderful jargon you'll hear commentators using during the Games. Michael Bywater translates the terminology.

BABY HEADS

If the commentator refers to these during a cycling race, he'll be wincing. Baby heads are smallish rocks, though bigger than 'death cookies', which mountain-bike riders often sample – usually with their teeth – when they have a crash.

BACK ALLEY

The area between the rear boundary and the long service line on a badminton court. Sometimes rudely, and wrongly, defined as where badminton was played before legalisation in 1322.

BEAM

Not the expression on the face of the gold medallist in the canoe sprint where he tries his best to look humble, but the width of the widest part of his boat.

BEARTRAP

Almost as nasty as it suggests: what happens when in BMX cycling your foot slips off the pedal so the other pedal whizzes round and smacks you in the shin.

BONK

See also 'no bird', since neither have anything to do with sex. To 'bonk' is when a triathlete runs out of puff, steam and oomph. Technically, it's actually the glycogen reserves in muscle and liver which run out, but either way it's a 'bonk', and you've 'hit the wall' and are going no further for a bit, certainly not at the rate you were.

BROACH

Since almost every aspect of sailing is conducted in an otherwise-dead language based on the everyday speech of 8th-century gurning rustics, it's hard to know where to start, but this will do, and it's what the commentators will cry if a boat turns out of control, broadside to the wind (or waves). Unlikely but possible.

BRUTALITY

Oddly enough for a sporting term, brutality, in water polo, does actually refers to brutality, in which Player A tries deliberately to harm (maim, kill, disable) Player B, and is sent off for the rest of the game.

BULLY

Naturally, the rough person in a hockey match with no front teeth who is responsible for lots of other players having no front teeth either. More formally, it's the call used to start play, when the players tap the 'flat' of their sticks three times, then just go for it.

CHAGI

Chagi is the Korean word for a kick in taekwondo. There are lots of kinds of chagi. 'Ap', 'yop', 'dwi', 'naeryo', 'bakat', 'cha chun bai', also 'horio'. These meaning: front, side, back, like axe, outer crescent, skipping, reverse turning. There are also many kinds of 'jireugi', which means punch. 'Jireugi ap', 'jireugi yop' – you begin to get the picture?

CHIN

Term of praise in boxing, as in "The boy's got chin". Not the bit the other chap just punched, but the ability to stay upright despite it, even when seeing stars or indeed nothing at all. Allegedly 'chin' is born, not made. The opposite of 'glass jaw'.

CHOP BLOCK

"There's that chop block again", is nothing to do with butchery or Tower Hill; rather, a table-tennis stroke where the player just waits for the ball to come to his 'blade' (bat) which he then chops downwards to apply heavy spin to the ball as it returns.

COUP DROIT D'AUTORITÉ

The fencing stroke which parries and then forces through an attack. It's the opposite of 'parade insufficient' or 'Mal-parry' – a parry that doesn't work so that the attacker's blade makes contact.

CROTCH LIFT

In wrestling, a 'crotch lift' refers to that nasty moment in which one combatant locks his arms round the other's upper thigh and then attempts to perform a 'snatch' (qv) on the other poor sod. Everyone winces, which is odd since in the 16th century the phrase was part of a dance called La Volta, and it was generally considered rather sexy. How things have changed.

DRIVE FACE

Drive face is normally the expression that people put on when they turn into the gravel driveway of someone who is much richer than they are. In slalom canoeing, though, the drive face is the curved, front bit of the paddle which is used to go forward. The rest is done by the back of the blade, which you may hear called by its technical term, 'back of the blade'.

FACIAL

A version of the popular indulgence, in volleyball a 'facial' is when a player raises her arm over her head and smashes the ball into the opponent's side of the court – and it hits someone smack in the face. Also invigorating, but in a different way.

FALLAWAY

What they call it when a handball player leaps into the air and while actually airborne twists to become horizontal in mid-air and sort of flies round the defender to take a shot at goal. Do not try this at home. Or if you do try this at home, make sure someone's filming you so that they can post it on YouTube.

FARTLEK

Yes, yes. Well it's not. It's an athletics term of Swedish origin for a sort of practice running workout where the runner can vary the speed they, well, run at.

FISTMELE

Is Agincourt quite forgotten? Fistmele is, in archery, the distance between the bow handle and string when the bow is drawn. (You may also hear references to a competitor's 'kisser' – a thing which shows the right vertical distance when drawing a bow.)

FLOOR, THE

This is astonishing. In Artistic Gymnastics, what they call the floor is actually... the floor. But it's officially a piece of apparatus. And there's more: exercises performed on the floor are called... floor exercise. Whoever's in charge of gymnastics is really going to have to work on being a bit more obscure or where will it end?

FLUFFUS

A double somersault with a twist. One of those things in trampoline which, like everything else in trampoline, makes one feel as though one has shot over the edge, screaming, and smashed one's teeth out on the rim. Can I go now? I feel funny.

GOLDEN SET

The tennis commentators will be yearning for this to happen. A golden set is a set won 6-0 without a point being lost. It has only ever been pulled off once, and that wasn't at an Olympics – by Bill Scanlon of the USA in 1983. Could this be the year? Almost certainly not.

GROUPO

You're thinking: an Australian person too old to be a groupie who hangs around road cyclists hoping for a bit of slap-and-gravel. But actually it's a set of drive components – brakes, cranks, gears and so on.

JUSHIN

The centre of gravity of a judo combatant, and so one of its most crucial concepts. You may also hear the commentators speaking of 'kansetsuwaza', where the combatants lock limbs, and 'O-Goshi', which is a combatant's cry, the Japanese translation of 'O-Fuck'. (Actually it's not. It's a Major Hip Throw.)

KEYHOLE

Not what you watch ladies' basketball through, but the end part of the court, including the foul circle, the free-throw line and the foul lane. It's called the keyhole because it used to look like one in the old days, but doesn't any more.

LEADE

The leade is the smooth section in the breech of a rifle, where you load the bullet, before the 'lands' – the ridges which make the bullet spin in flight. If you hear them refer to the 'throat', it's a not-quite-pukkah word for the same thing.

NO BIRD

This is what happens when a shooting competitor spends all his time practising and never goes out. It is also an illegally-launched clay pigeon. (That's 'illegal' in that it's thrown before the player has called 'pull', or not thrown, or breaks – not 'illegal' as in being fired into someone's face round the back of Argos when he was well eyeing up your 'bird' innit.)

OFFSIDE

We must mention football, even though we'll be getting more than enough of it, so let's stick to the offside rule which is the thing a woman feigning interest in the game asks a man to explain just once more, thus spoiling his enjoyment of the match while adding nothing to hers.

RIP ENTRY

It does makes you think, some of these sporting terms. Still. Rip entry is, in diving, when you enter the water almost imperceptibly, without making any splash. (Incompatible with 'lost move syndrome' where the diver suddenly finds that he or she can't do a sequence of moves which two minutes ago was only second nature.)

SAXBOARD

Well it's obviously another rowing term for gunwales, which are pronounced 'gunnels', while saxboard is pronounced 'saxboard'. In either case it's the top rail along the sides of the boat, which is sometimes called a shell, so that a shell's saxboard is the same thing as a boat's gunwales. Arrr harr so it be.

SCULL

Scull is no relation of 'chin', 'kisser' or 'baby heads' (qqv) but instead it is a sort of paddling action of a synchronised swimmer's hands that is specifically designed to put a continuous pressure on the water in order to hold station (or indeed propel the swimmer forwards).

SLOBBER BAR

A slobber bar is where the equestrians gather after the event to commiserate with, and blame, each other. Also, or actually, it refers to a metal bar between the shanks of a curb bit.

SNATCH

Shh. Stop it. This is simply, in weightlifting, pulling the barbell to mid-chest, then flipping it overhead. The other one is called the 'jerk' – I warned you: stop it – which follows the 'clean', a rapid pull to the shoulders, then jerking the barbell overhead. There's also the famous though seldom seen 'prolapse' but it's usually left unmentioned apart from wincing by all involved.

THE PITS

The pits is a track cyclist's description for what he or she considers a particularly poor performance. Also fenced-off areas of the infield where mechanics work on the bikes.

TOSS

Astoundingly, and rather disappointingly, an action in Rhythmic Gymnastics in which the athlete throws something into the air and catches it again. Cf 'trap', where the something is caught, but not with the hands. Minds: feel free to boggle.

WHALE

A term of beach volleyball abuse (note the nautical imagery) for swiping wildly at the ball without any sense of tactics or real purpose. But for most male spectators, with those skimpy little outfits, who's looking for strategy or tactics?

WHIPPING AREA

As everyone knows, this is a swimming term referring to the competitors' equivalent of the Green Room, where they can relax, either poolside or in a special room, before the race. Why? What did you think it was?

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