Wenn ein Verteidiger den Ball bekommt, dann schaltet er um auf Sturm.

  • Was sagt denn ein Wöterbuch zu Sturm? Wg. des offenen Bonus kann man leider nicht mehr schließen. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 19:57
  • @userunknown Dein Kommentar ist irreführend. Um das "auf" zu verstehen, muss man nicht unter "Sturm" nachschauen, sondern unter "umschalten": dwds.de/wb/umschalten
    – user4973
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 20:53
  • @what: duden.de/rechtschreibung/Sturm_Wind_Angriff_Einheit_Spiel Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 21:32
  • @userunknown Ja, und? Wo finde ich dort "auf ... umschalten"? "Sturm auf" hat doch mit "auf Sturm" nichts zu tun.
    – user4973
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 9:01
  • 1
    @what: Die Frage war ja nicht, was "auf etwas umschalten" bedeutet. Hervorgehoben ist "auf Sturm". Wenn man weiß, was "Sturm" im gegebenen Kontext bedeutet, sollte das "auf" ein Klacks sein. Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 6:26

3 Answers 3


Umschalten means to switch settings in a rather broad sense, from technical (e.g. TV channels) to personal behaviour. It is always very distinct and happens instantly, not a gradual change.

The new setting or value is introduced with auf1, so the phrase is umschalten auf X.

Your example is from a soccer / football (or similar sports) context, where two teams either act defensively or offensively. The offence is typically called Sturm, the players in the positions closest to the opponents' goal are Stürmer, the matching verb is stürmen.

So your sentence means that as soon as a defense player gets the ball (implied: from the opposing team), he instantly switches tactics to offensive play. Side note: those fast switches can be crucial for success in the game and players that master that are often considered valuable for the team.

1 Yes, I know there are a few other particles that may be used, especially in a more colloquial context ("Schalt mal zum ZDF um."), but let's ignore them for now.


Team behaviour (1): Avoid to get a goal (is named defence (Verteidigung)).

Team behaviour (2): Try to score a goal (is named offense (Sturm/Angriff)).

auf Sturm umschalten


changing the team behaviour from (1) to (2)


Your question splits up into two. The first question is, What does "Sturm" mean in this sentence? and the second Where does the "auf" come from and what does it mean?

To answer the first question: In general, the first meaning of Sturm is "storm", "tempest". In military contexts, it has the conveyed meaning "attack", "offense". And in games, which are described with metaphorical concepts of war, in concepts of offense and defense, Sturm means offense as well.

To answer the second question: The auf is the part of the verb "umschalten". Auf etwas umschalten means "to switch something to". So, your sentence

Wenn ein Verteidiger den Ball bekommt, dann schaltet er um auf Sturm.

can also be written as

Wenn ein Verteidiger den Ball bekommt, dann schaltet er auf Sturm um.

and can be translated as

As soon as a defense-player is getting the ball, he switches to offense.

By the way: In his famous 'linguistic diary' LTI (Lingua Tertii Imperii, Language of the Third Reich) Victor Klemperer describes the rise of military metaphors, the rise of sports-metaphors and the rise of metaphors which describe human behaviour in terms of machines as a phenomenon of Nazi language and propaganda. Klemperer argues that the use of mechanical and technical terms for describing human behaviour (he mentions "seine Einstellung ändern" which means "to change one's attitude", but literally "to change one's tune-up") served the Nazis to dehumanize humans in order to prepare them for war. According to Klemperer, the rise of sports-metaphors were corresponding to a risen importance of sports for the Nazis in general, as a means to improve the Volksgesundheit ("people's health") and to produce warriors.

Your sentence gives an interesting example of the blending of the three concepts: Here sports (I guess your sentence deals with soccer) are associated with war (Verteidiger, "defender", and Sturm, "offense") and the sport is described in mechanical terms (auf etwas umschalten). But to confirm that the use of these metaphors in your sentence is in fact Nazi-legacy, one would have to study the etymology of "Sturm" in sports contexts, which I did not. But, I would not be surprised, if indeed the Nazis brought up this vocabulary in sports contexts; a famous antisemitic Nazi-publication was called "Der Stürmer" (literally: The Stormer)

ADDENDUM In fact, "Sturm" in sports context is not an invention of the Nazis, since Grimm's dictionary of has "Stürmer" with the meaning "in der sprache des modernen sports bezeichnet stürmer den spieler, der den ball in das feindliche mal oder tor zu bringen hat; allgemein." - "the player who has to bring the ball into the opponent's goal", see http://woerterbuchnetz.de/DWB/?sigle=DWB&mode=Vernetzung&lemid=GS55048#XGS55048

  • 2
    As English has no qualms speaking of attacks, offense and defense, football players go into skirmishes and everyone tries to beat their opponents, I would not exclusively blame the Nazis for introducing military terms into sports. (Not that I'd try to exonerate them.)
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 21:32
  • @Stephie You're right when stating that military metaphors are wildely used in sports contexts in other languages as well. I just came across the term "Sturm" which has strong Nazi associations to me - take "Volkssturm", "Sturmbannführer". But as I mentioned, it's just a hypothesis, a hint for further investigation.
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 21:54

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