I know "go through your paces" means: "to show how well you can do something", but I've faced some examples that not realized:

for example I've not established what "went through his paces" means in the below sentence:

Slaven went through his paces as the club announced a sell-out for the March 4 first leg at Ayresome Park.

Or in the next sentence:

Most of the students are satisfied eating and watching Reed go through her paces, with very few questions asked

I've seen these examples at LongMan dictionary

Can anyone explain it to me, please?

  • 1
    No, we cannot explain the sentences because you have not provided any context. Please edit your question to include the three or four sentences immediately preceding the two sentences you are asking about. Also include the source (work and author) for the quoted text.
    – randomhead
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 4:04
  • I've brought these sentences from the Long Man Dictionary. I was reading about "go through" first, but then I suddenly sow some sentences with "go through your paces"! Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 4:16
  • It's Longman, all one word - the name of the publisher. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 7:32

2 Answers 2


The expression "to put someone/something through its paces" means to test something. It originally related to horses: a pace is like a trot, but the two legs on the same side of the horse move forward together. There are various speeds and styles of pace, and some can be uncomfortable on a particular horse, so it's important to test the horse's paces.

Both of the examples that you quoted are not typical, because the form is "he/she went through his/her paces"- the test is self-imposed. The first example is written by a sport writer, so you have to make allowances. *See Richard Winters' comment below.

Slaven Bilić was appointed head coach of West Bromwich Albion football club in June 2019. They were scheduled for a game with Middlesbrough football club on October 19th 2019 and all of the tickets were sold. Slaven Bilić went through his paces, showing how well he could manage the team. His efforts were successful: West Brom defeated Middlesbrough 1-nil, and they were later promoted to the premier league in July 2020.

I have no idea who Reed might be, or what she was doing.

Here are some conventional usages for a person and a thing: the first is Bilić again, but by a more literate sport writer. You can follow the links to get more information about what the sentence means.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilić put his side through their paces ahead of Swansea clash - Daily Mail, 2015

A new ground receiving station at the Cuban Meteorological Institute (INSMET) was put through its paces by a tremendous natural force - *UKRI, 2019*

  • 2
    To clarify, because it might not be obvious to a non-native speaker: "so you have to make allowances" means that sports writers have a reputation for being bad writers, and so could be prone to make mistakes in usage and grammar. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 7:07
  • @RichardWinters fair comment.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 7:10
  • I would guess that Reed might be a student athlete or sportswoman whom the other students are watching. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 7:31

In the example sentences, without more, I would suspect it is describing actual motion, that the person is walking back and forth. Particularly of the second sentence, talking about a lecturer of some sort, with students simply watching (and perhaps not all that engaged) rather than the usual figurative meaning of performing some set of rote actions to demonstrate proficiency.

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