Idiom:  drop the ball


Idiom:  drop the ball

  • to stop working on something before a goal or project is completed
  • to forget or neglect doing something at a critical point
  • to make a mistake or fail in some way

Note:  This idiom comes from sports. It describes someone dropping, not catching or failing to grasp a ball during play. 

Example sentences

  • We lost the contract when I went on vacation because my coworkers dropped the ball and didn’t submit all the documents for the proposal.
  • You dropped the ball making sure your children did their homework so it's no surprise they didn't do well this semester. 
  • Let's organize a meeting and set up a schedule so that nobody drops the ball for this year's annual conference.
  • My final grades weren't great this semester. I dropped the ball after I did well on midterm exams and didn't complete all the problems sets the rest of the semester. 
  • I just received an email saying that NEA is no longer using our services. Who dropped the ball on this account? 
  • Records show that our sales team is dropping the ball at the end of the sales cycle.  Let's organize some training to help them close sales.  
  • Democrats really dropped the ball by not campaigning in Michigan until the last minute in the 2016 election.


  • mess up
  • screw up

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