The English We Speak – To be on the ball

When you are ‘on the ball’ or you ‘keep your eye on the ball’, it means you are alert and quick to react to things.

This is a download from BBC Learning English. To find out more visit our website.
The English We Speak from BBC Learning English
Rob: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak. I’m Rob and joining me today is Liz.
Li: Hi… everyone – err, Rob, my name is Li, not Liz.
Rob: I’m sorry Li, I’m not really on the ball this morning.
Li: Nice phrase though. Why don’t you go for a coffee and then you will be on the ball for The English We Speak?
Rob: OK. Right, lovely, OK, that’s better. I’ve had a nice cup of coffee and I’m ready to explain the meaning for today’s The English We Speak. So, here you go. When you are ‘on the ball’, it means you are alert and quick to react to things.
Li: It comes from sports, doesn’t it?
Rob: Yes. And there’s another phrase: ‘to keep your eye on the ball’ which has a very similar meaning.
Li: I guess we can use it for any situation which is changing quickly so you need to be focused and sharp.
Rob: Indeed. Let’s hear some examples:
The interviewer raised tough questions but Ma Yun was on the ball.
Financial management is not a job that everyone can do. You have to keep your eye on the ball at all times.
Li: And if you want to learn English well you can stay on the ball with
Rob: Best of luck. Li: Bye.
Rob: Bye bye.


BBC The English We Speak

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *