the ball is in your court


the ball is in your court,
also, the ball is in someone’s court


  • the initiative for taking action lies with somebody
  • to initiate action now lies with the party that has the ball in their court
  • it refers to the person who is responsible for making the next move, whether in an activity, game, incident or event
  • the responsibility of taking action lying with someone

Example Sentences

  1. We did what we could, and now the ball is in your court.
  2. The entire family has stood by his decision to move to another country but the ball is in his court if he decides to change his mind at the last minute.
  3. I think I’ve done more than enough to save our marriage. The ball is in your court now.
  4. I have already agreed to meet this guy to hear his proposal out, but he did not show up in time. The ball is still in his court.
  5. She had initiated the conversation, but the ball is now his court if he wants to consider her marriage proposal.
  6. His family and friends have requested him to apologize to his boss to save his job. The ball is in his court now.


The idiomatic expression originated in America in the early 19th century. The concept of symbolic “ball” comes from the sports world, such as tennis or/and basketball. It shows the ball being thrown around, and the person who is occupying the court has the responsibility to throw it off to the other side. The phrase also subtly hints towards getting rid of the ball (the task or the next move) as early and as swiftly as possible in the same context.

Share your opinions3 Opinions

Saudi Arabia has said they want to avoid the war but the ball is in the court of Iran, it is upto them to initiate the action to start the war after USA oil embargo on Iran.

‒ Virendra May 19, 2019

Syed Athaulla, we wouldn’t say ‘the ball is in its court’ or ‘the ball is in court.’ There must be a person (or people) who can take responsibility for the ball (which of course is not a ball at all except in tennis :-)). It’s common to say, “the ball is in your court.”

‒ English Guru July 21, 2018

The idiom ‘the ball is in court’ can be used for all the three categories of the Third person, the ball is in his court, the ball is in court, the ball is in their court, the ball is in its court.

Am I correct? Can anybody explain?

‒ Syed Athaulla March 24, 2018

What's on your mind?