I understand the meaning of the word "hit", which in football it means kick the ball. But here it's sort of awkward. "Hit" should be used with the object "the ball", however the writers uses it with "the post" instead. Does the writer leave out "the ball?" This sentence should be "Jon Stead hits the ball the post" or Jon Stead's shot hit the post", where the word "shot" is also omitted. Could you explain what I'm right? Also, the "thunder" means hit the ball hard. But the writer uses it with "opportunity". So the sentence would mean "kick a opportunity". Clearly, it doesn't make any sense.

Rovers striker Jon Stead hit the post and thundered another good opportunity over the bar before Jason Euell ran on to a Di Canio flick-on to jab the ball past Friedel.’


5 Answers 5


Your initial assumption is incorrect - "hit" does not normally mean to kick the ball in football. Nearly every strike of the ball with a players foot is referred to as 'a kick', or 'a shot' when it is aimed at the goal. You also have 'headers' when it is struck with the head.

The ball is supposed to go inside the goal net - but in this case, the ball hit (or struck) the post. The goal posts are the bars marking the edge of the goal - the ball must go between these. Hitting the post nearly always results in the ball bouncing back and failing to go into the goal.

The commentator doesn't omit mentioning the ball - it is just tacit and therefore unnecessary. Consider this - if you aimed a gun at a target and fired, you might say "I hit the target!". You wouldn't need to say "I hit the target with the bullet fired from this gun" - that would be equally unnecessary.

  • In short: "the ball" is implied. Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 21:16
  • @duct_tape_coder An answer that short would get flagged for deletion as 'low quality'. But my answer does more than answer the question, it also addresses the OP's mistake that 'hit' could possibly have meant a strike of the ball.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 18:20

"Hit the post" is idiomatic in football. It means that the ball was kicked into one of the two uprights of the goal - so it was a near-miss. When you "hit the bar" or "hit the woodwork" in football, it always means "you hit the bar with the ball". Outside of football, it is common to omit the thing use use to hit. You can say "hit the nail" and omit "with the hammer", because that part is obvious from context.

Thundered is more commentator talk. It's a metaphor suggesting that the ball was kicked very hard, but without much control. It is usually found in expressions like "He thundered the ball over the bar". There isn't much need for that expression except in football.

In this case "he thundered an opportunity" is a mixed metaphor. But we understand that he had an opportunity to score a goal, but instead of taking this opportunity, he kicked the ball too hard and it went over the bar (his manager would not have been happy). It's commentator talk, not really something to emulate.

  • Thanks for the explanatjon. But "thunder" here is used with "opportunity", not "the ball". So it means to kick a good opportunity. Doesn't it sound strange?
    – Jembot
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 13:44
  • 11
    'opportunity' in the phrase provided means 'the opportunity to score a goal' - so a literal translation would be something more like "he squandered the opportunity [to score a goal] by kicking the ball so hard it went above the crossbar"
    – SeanR
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 15:12
  • 2
    Yes, its a mixed metaphor. Commentators are famous for this kind of strange expression. Clearly it doesn't makes sense... except it does if you don't worry about the literal meaning of what he said, and instead think about what he actually means.
    – James K
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 20:39
  • The commentator could have used "skied" instead of "thundered". People familiar with the sport would understand what that meant. (A sky ball is a kicked ball that flies far above the crossbar, typically because the kick had no finesse.) People not familiar would have wondered if it was snowing. The pronunciation of "skied" is different between skiing and football (soccer). Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 9:36

This is perfectly normal English, but there's more than one way to "hit"

You can hit many things, but you can do so with many other things. You can hit a ball with your hand. You can hit a ball with your foot, though it is true almost everyone uses the more specific term "kick" in that situation.* You can hit a ball with a club or bat. You can hit a pitcher with a ball. (Try not to do that) You could hit someone with a punch, a glob of spit, a shuriken, a bullet, or even with a rifle (which shot the bullet). By comparison, it's totally normal for you to hit a post with a ball.

In every case above, the "with XXX" prepositional phrase can be omitted if it seems clear in context.

*Note: There are exceptions to using "kick". For example, if an acrobat is thrown from one man to another, and something goes wrong, she might hit the second man with her foot - meaning she failed to keep it in the right position to avoid striking him. You couldn't say she kicked him with her foot because that would imply a certain type of motion, and perhaps even an intent to do so.

  • Fun addition to your note: If someone's foot hits you in the head, even by accident, you might still say you were kicked in the head during the chaos. Even if you wouldn't say the other person kicked you, because yeah, that would imply intent or at least some leg motion on their part. (So if you want to break this down, you might end up deciding that their foot kicked you, but they as a whole person didn't. Normally you don't worry about the semantics of statements like "I got kicked in the head", and tone of voice may imply whether you're trying to place blame or not.) Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 4:52

Good question! As others have said, “hit” in this context means to strike an object with the ball. We also say that the ball “hit” something by colliding with it. It’s also used for striking a golf ball with a golf club, a tennis ball with a tennis racket, or a volleyball with a hand or fist. We do not normally say we “hit” a soccer ball when we kick it, or “hit” a basketball when we bounce it off fhe floor.

Expressions such as “hit the shot” or “hit the goal” mean that someone was aiming for a target and successfully struck it. It is also possible to hit something by accident. It is possible to hit either a type of shot, a score or an object or person. Similarly, in golf, a player can hit a chip shot (a type of shot), hit a birdie (a score), or hit a hazard, fairway, green or other location.

In gridiron football, “a hit” usually means a collision between two players. But, as an extension of one of the earlier meanings I gave—to aim at a target and succeed—a quarterback also “hits” a teammate by successfully passing the ball to him. Another interesting subtlety is that, when a kicker hits a field goal, that means they sent the ball between the goalposts as they intended, and it does not collide with anything. If they hit the goalpost, that means it struck the post and bounced off, just like in soccer. Similarly, a basketball player can “hit the rim” of the basket.

In baseball, “a hit” has a more specific meaning, which only applies to baseball. Baseball players can also hit the ball or hit something with the ball, in the usual sense.

Some examples of usage from different sports:


Useful info merged from a long comment string -DES

This is football commentary, not an attempt to speak grammatical English. It makes perfect sense to the football fans, for whom it is intended. Sports commentators are not hired for their knowledge of English. – Ronald Sole

Even a non-sports fan like me knows that the object of football is to kick the ball into the goal, so it's not necessary to explain that 'he kicked the ball so that it hit the goalpost'. – Kate Bunting

This is really just an example of jargon, every sport is going to be littered with words and phrases that are hard to understand without knowledge of the sport. Of course it's hardly limited to sports, everything has in-group speak – eps

There is a word missing. That word is kick. So you have, John Stead['s kick] hit the post. Still no mention of the ball. Everyone knows John's kick means - John's kick of the ball. If his foot had hit the post instead of the ball, you might say, John Stead's kick resulted in his foot hitting the post. – EllieK

Depending on the angle though, a ball could hit the post and still bounce into the goal, scoring a point. So it's a bit ambiguous whether it hit the post and bounced out or hit the pole and bounced in. From the context, I'd have to assume it was out? But it is steeped in some obscure jargon that I'm not familiar with. – Darrel

As a point of clarification: Am I correct in understanding we are talking about en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_football here? – Drazisil

@MichaelRichardson he "thundered another good opportunity over the bar" - that is, one time he hit the post, and the next time he went over the bar. – Karu

This is perfectly grammatical English. Some of the expressions are a little quaint, but it's definitely not poor English. – Dawood

@DawoodibnKareem There are several specific ambiguities here: 1) Is this gridiron, association, or rugby "football"?, 2) I'm used to "jab" as a type of punch from boxing, but that's probably not the meaning here. Depending on context it may indicate moving the ball with either foot or hand. 3) "Hit the post" and "thundered another good opportunity" both sound like "make the grade" or "succeed" to my American ears - but several Answerers have interpreted them differently. 4) "Flick-on" suggests to me a rapid motion of a single finger, which doesn't fit the context – Sarah Messer

@SarahMesser Thank you, that's interesting. I suppose it is easier to understand if you know what sport is being talked about, and don't have to guess. Of course, reading this in context, you'd know which sport was being played. I guessed Association Football. It can't be Rugby - they don't have strikers. I don't know enough about American Football to know whether that's a possibility; but if it were American Football, then "thundered another good opportunity over the bar" would presumably be a good thing. I can't bring myself to hear "hit the post" as a positive though, for any sport. – Dawood ibn Kareem

Also posted on another site: UsingEnglish.com - Hit the post – Andrew T.

Source of the quotation: News Shopper - Brad Luck for Friedel

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