“My coach used to tell us, 'You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.'”

Your friend is trying to decide whether to send an application to a graduate school that he wants to get into. He really wants to go there but doesn't think that he'll be accepted. You want to convince him to apply, so you say this.

My coach used to tell us, 'You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.'

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(someone) used to (do something)

You can talk about things that "used to" happen if:

  • it happened in the past
  • it happened more than 5 or 10 times (or for several weeks or months if it's something that's continuous)
  • it doesn't happen any more.

For example:

My friend Jeremy and I used to get together on the weekends and play Nintendo for hours at a time.

tell (someone) (something)

What's the difference between "say" and "tell"?

The answer is that different things can come after them. "Say" is always followed by what the person said:

My coach used to say "You miss..."

It can't be followed by the person who they said it to. "My coach used to say us..." is wrong!

"Tell", on the other hand, has to include who the message is being said to:

Jane wanted me to tell you that she's sorry she couldn't make it.

"Tell" can't be followed by the message. "Jane wanted me to tell that she's sorry..." is wrong!.

Here's a super-easy way to remember the difference:

You said it!

You told me!

take a shot / miss a shot

In sports like basketball, soccer, and hockey, "a shot" is when you try to get your ball or puck into the net to get a point. Here are some things that you can do with "a shot":

  • You can "take" a shot, which means that you try to get some points.
  • You can "miss" the shot, which means that your shot didn't succeed.
  • You can "make" the shot, which means that you did succeed and got the points.

"Taking a shot" is a common metaphor for things that you try to do in life. For example, if your friend asked a girl out on a date but she said no, you can say:

Well, at least you took a shot.

The quotation in the example at top means "You can't be successful in life if you don't take risks and try to get the things you want."