Stop on a dime?

中国日报网 2016-03-22 13:41



Stop on a dime?

Reader question:

When they say Stephen Curry “can stop on a dime and shoot from anywhere”, what does it mean? Stop on a dime?

My comments:

When they say Stephen Curry can stop on a dime, it’s a great compliment, meaning Curry, a professional basketball player, can stop and/or change direction abruptly while dribbling the ball at full speed.

In other words, he can stop on a dime like a car hitting the brake and stopping with a squeak.

Stephen Curry, in case, you don’t know who he is, is the ball handler on the Golden State Warriors team in the North American pro hoops league called the NBA. He’s the reigning league MVP or Most Valuable Player, i.e. its best player right now.

Anyways, to say Curry can stop on a dime is a great compliment, likening the athlete to a well-performing car that can hit the brake and stop right then and there.

A dime, you see, is a small round-shaped coin worth 10 cents. To say a person can stop and turn on a dime, therefore, means he can operate if you give him the tiniest wiggle room. In other words, he is really nimble and agile.

To stop on a dime or, more impressively, turn on a dime are phrases that are mostly used to describe well-performing vehicles, small sedans in particular. To say a car is able to turn on a dime is to say it can turn full circle and make a ring in an area the size of a dime.

Figuratively speaking, of course, but, just imagine that!

All right? All right, here are media examples to help us bring these two phrases home:

1. Over the years, the voice of Tom Larscheid has become synonymous with Vancouver Canucks hockey.

As the team’s radio colour commentator for more than 25 years, Larscheid has been there and called that; think back to your favourite Canucks memories and there’s a good chance he had a hand in making them such.

In the booth Larscheid is cleverly spontaneous and infectiously enthusiastic, he’s cheerful and positive for the most part, yet not afraid to call a spade a spade – “what you see is what you get from Tom Larscheid,” as he puts it.

But there was a time, many moons ago, when what you saw is certainly not what you got from Larscheid.

He was once a fierce football player who could stop on a dime back when a bottle of Coke cost the same and this weekend he’s being honoured for it.

From 1959 to 1961 Larscheid attended Utah State University, playing for the Aggies. At 5-foot-8 and 150-pounds, he looked more like a water boy than a running back in those days and early on in his career he didn’t garner much respect at the line of scrimmage.

That changed in a hurry. Hulk and intimidation weren’t his strengths, but speed and determination were.

“Every time my number was called, my mindset was ‘I’m going to take this one all the way for a touchdown,’” said Larscheid, now 68. “Every time.”

- Honouring a great,, July 2, 2009.

2. For five years, ever since the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush has pursued the war in Iraq, his legislative agenda and his policies for fighting terrorism with a single-mindedness that inspired admiration among the Republican faithful -- and, if the election results are an accurate gauge, increasing consternation among the American public.

This afternoon, Bush showed that he could turn on a dime if necessary: Bush ousted Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld only a week after telling reporters he would stay through the end of the administration. And he voiced great willingness to work with Democrats on Capitol Hill, following an election campaign in which he regularly impugned the opposition for policies he said could weaken America and lead to the victory of terrorists.

At a news conference today, Bush made clear that had heard the results of Tuesday’s stunning election results, which left Bush facing not only a House but also, possibly, a Senate in the hands of the opposition party -- should the narrow Democratic lead in Virginia hold up.

Bush offered an unusual dose of self-criticism, saying he shares a “large part of the responsibility” for Tuesday’s GOP election debacle. He said he hopes to find “common ground” with the Democrats and he wanted a “fresh perspective” at the Pentagon. Asked how he could work with the Democrats after harsh rhetoric on both sides, Bush replied: “I’ve been around politics a long time; I understand when campaigns end, and I know when governing begins. And I am going to work with people of both parties.”

The new rhetoric reflected the hard reality that if Bush hopes to accomplish any significant initiative in the last two years of his term, he will almost certainly have to rethink a legislative and political strategy that for the past five years depended almost entirely on Republican votes for success.

- Bush Shows He Can Turn on a Dime,, November 8, 2006.

3. The saying, “Life can turn on a dime” neatly encapsulates a precautionary tale. You know how it goes: “Live your life for today, because tomorrow you could walk out and be hit by a bus.”

However, seen from a different angle, “Life can turn on a dime” can express an optimistic viewpoint. I’ve come to appreciate the phrase as a hopeful one. Isn’t it comforting to know that quite possibly, at any moment, it can hit you — a sudden revelation — opening your eyes to something you never realized before?... that will offer you a new perspective?... something that can change your life?

Maybe I’ve gained my appreciation of this kind of instant insight through my coaching experience. Most of the people I coach are middle-aged or heading towards it — so they’re ripe and ready for change and awareness, plus they’re well past the point of blaming their parents. Not that there isn’t a time and place for considering the backstories, history and reasons for our behavior. But there comes a time when acceptance and personal accountability matter most. And this opens the door for life to turn on a dime.

Many times I have witnessed that moment of a new perspective settling in, either when standing on a stage looking out at an audience, or even over the phone on a coaching call. It usually looks or sounds something like shock, confusion, acceptance, and then... peace. In an instant. A new perspective. A moment of clarity that offers a new way to look at things. Like the tiny money piece itself from which the phrase originated — the smallest of US currencies — life can turn around in the smallest possible moment.

- Life Can Turn on a Dime, by Jeffrey Shaw,, April 14, 2015.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)



















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