Idiom: On the ball

Cartoon man standing and balancing on a beach ball. Caption:

Idiom:  On the ball

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.


Notes:     

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.


Examples

  • 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.

You might like these idioms

If you found this idiom useful, I highly recommend that you sign-up for my free newsletter to learn about new updates to my website.


  1. Home
  2.  ›
  3. Main idioms list
  4.  ›
  5. Idiom: on the ball