telegraph one's punches

telegraph (one's) punches

1. To make a clear but unintentional physical indication of where, when, and how one is going to throw a punch. You've got to stop telegraphing your punches like that, or you're not going to make it very far in the boxing world. The guy went to take a swing at me, but he telegraphed his punch and I was able to duck out of the way.
2. By extension, to do something that unintentionally makes it obvious what one's intentions are or next move will be. I was a little nervous about the interview, but the person conducting it telegraphed their punches, so I was able to answer everything pretty easily. The senator has been telegraphing his punches throughout this entire campaign.
See also: punch, telegraph

telegraph one's punches

Signal one’s intentions. The term comes from boxing, where fighters are told not to telegraph their punches, that is, not indicate unintentionally where they are going to strike. It came into figurative use, as in “Don’t telegraph your punches—don’t let the others know we really need this contract.”
See also: punch, telegraph