Posted on: October 12th, 2012 by Jen Mueller

Sports metaphors can be effective descriptors at work – if everyone is on the same page and understands the correct meaning.  Each week we’ll take a look at a familiar sports phrase or metaphor in business, identify its origin, explain its meaning and demonstrate how to use it in business.

Talk Sporty to Me BlogSports phrase: Swinging For the Fences

This is a baseball term that is used to describe a hitter who is trying hard to hit a home run, i.e. hit one over the fences.

Here’s the problem with swinging for the fences, rarely is it used with a positive connotation during a game.  While it might seem like a good idea to try and hit a home run, most fans, players and coaches will say that if you’re trying to hard you’re not doing your job because swinging for the fences can cause you to take unnecessary chances at the plate.  Often times,  all a hitter needs is a base hit, or something else within the game plan.

Business Application: In business, the general meaning of the phrase is to try very hard.  But if a sports fan is using it, be aware of the hidden assumption (to a sports fan) that swinging for the fences leads to rash decisions.

  • Here’s an example: I’m going to swing for the fences with this presentation and hope it’s well received.

There’s nothing wrong with swinging for the fences as long as everyone understands that it’s being used to describe your level of effort, not your lack of preparation.

*Take these definitions with a grain of salt.  They’re based on years of being a fan and more than a decade in sports broadcasting and Jen’s status as America’s Expert Talker.