On the Ball Idiom

On the ball (idiom)

Look at the picture and try to guess the meaning of the idiom 'on the ball.'   

On the ball:   to be alert, focused and able to react to something quickly.


One theory about the origin of this idiom is that it's a description of an athlete focusing on a ball in sports. In basketball, for example, players have to stay alert and use their eyes to follow the ball as it's passed from one player to another. They call that "keeping" their eyes on the ball.


  • My assistant is amazing—he's always on the ball  noticing mistakes and offering valuable suggestions.  
  • Although he doesn't have a medical condition he uses the same prescription medication that people who have ADHD use to stay on the ball  during exams.
  • Is there something going on that I should know about? Normally you're always on the ball  but you've made three big errors already today and it's not even lunch time!
  • It's hard to stay on the ball  when you've got a newborn infant and are sleep deprived.
  • My daughter's teacher is really on the ball  making sure that all of the students in the class are advancing doing different activities and exercises at their own pace.
  • I've really got to stay on the ball  with my assignments this semester since I'm taking an extra class.
  • I don't know how you can have a beer at lunch during the work day—I'd never be able to stay on the ball  after drinking alcohol.
  • I recommend you stay on the ball  with those subcontractors to make sure everyone is doing their work on time or there could be a major problem a few months from now.
  • Thanks to Mary staying on the ball  with the inventory she noticed we need to purchase more parts in order to increase production and meet January's orders.
  • As usual, Genie was on the ball  and exceeded her sales targets by 200 percent so we're giving her a much higher bonus this quarter.

  • The students in my advanced placement classes are really on the ball  so I have to be careful not to make any mistakes while I'm teaching.
  • Please stay on the ball  with this client—we really need to keep the contract with this company.

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› On the Ball Idiom

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