Where does the phrase “to keep one’s eye on the ball” come from and What does it mean?

The phrase “to keep one’s eye on the ball” means: To be closely attentive; to be alert, alive and kicking, on one’s toes; to sit up and take notice.

This has been popular American speech in a figurative sense for at least fifty years.

In source, although applicable to any sport in which a ball is kept in motion, tennis, golf, billiards, bowls, polo, it was probably the game of football from which it was derived, from the urgent instructions of college coaches.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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