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25 All-Time Best Inspirational Sports Quotes To Get You Going

25 All-Time Best Inspirational Sports Quotes To Get You Going

We often use sports as a metaphor for life. Overall, sports often package life’s lessons into neat 60-minute games or into perfect soundbites that summarize to achieve at a high level. For this reason, we sifted over the glories of all sports, seeking to find a few uber-inspirational sports quotes.

1. “I don’t count my situps. I only start counting once it starts hurting. ” -Muhammad Ali

    Muhammad Ali, the inventor of the modern overconfident athlete persona and multiple time world boxing champion, has many quotes that could have made this list, but we thought we’d get him out of the way early.

    2.  “Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.” – Jimmy Valvano

      The speech Jimmy Valvano gave at the 1993 ESPY awards is choked full of wisdom and tightly-packed emotion, and it was hard to pick just one phrase from it. In it, legendary NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano is given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, with everyone in the room knowing that he was going to die within a few weeks. It’s worth a watch.

      3. “I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

        The world-renowed basketball player Michael Jordan is always thought of as the victor, the one who took the shot no one else could make, the one who transformed the game. In these simple lines quantifying his failures, Jordan shows that getting to success is never easy, and that the failures are what make us who we are.

        4. “The only way to prove you are a good sport is to lose.” – Ernie Banks

          No one knows enthusiasm and integrity better than Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. A Hall Of Fame Shortstop, Banks knew about losing, playing mostly for terrible Cubs teams.

          5. “There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter

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            Recently retired First-Ballot-Hall-of-Fame shortstop accomplished a lot in his career with the New York Yankees, and was widely thought of as a class act. Jeter was a player’s player, a hard worker, and here he shows what got him there: hard work.

            6. “If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” – Mark Spitz

              Nine-time Olympic champion Mark Spitz was an amazing swimmer, and nothing got him to where he wanted to be more than preparing. Spitz records stood until Michael Phelps broke them recently, so I’d say he has room to talk about preparation.

              7. “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.” – John Madden

                John Madden may be known for being a broadcaster and owner of a popular video game franchise, but before that, he coached the Oakland Raiders to two Superbowl Championship. In this, Madden shows how it wasn’t easy to get where he ended up.

                8. “Stubbornness usually is considered a negative; but I think that trait has been a positive for me.”- Cal Ripken, Jr.

                  Cal Ripken Jr. holds the streak in baseball, for most consecutive games played, with 2,632 games over the course of more than 16 years. You can see how he may consider himself stubborn, as he just trotted out there, every day, for more than a decade and a half.

                  9. “To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.” – Picabo Street

                    Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street, as an alpine skier, blew past her limits pretty consistently. Whizzing down a mountain at high speeds does take courage, and so does achieving your goals.

                    10. “Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” -Mike Singletary

                      During his Hall-Of-Fame career with the Chicago Bears, Mike Singletary was known for his tenacity and his eyes. This must have been the result of a child-like vigor that he brought every day.

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                      11.“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way.” – Satchel Paige

                        Legendary Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige was big on creativity and perseverance. Sometimes thought of as one of the greatest pitchers to ever live, Paige would never quit, and never let his emotions take over.

                        12. “It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.” – Evander Holyfield

                          World Heavy Weight Boxing Champion Evander Holyfield knows a lot about fighting and the heart. He was the man who had his ear bit off by Mike Tyson, and was at one point the undisputed world boxing champion.

                          13. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

                            The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, was widely regarded as the best hockey player to ever play the game. In his best season, he had in average more than one goal per game, and was a four-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Edmonton Oilers. He never saw a shot he didn’t like.

                            14. “Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength.” – Phil Jackson

                              Hall-of-Fame NBA Coach Phil Jackson won a total of eleven (!!!) championships during his coaching career: six with the Chicago Bulls and then five more with the Los Angeles LAkers, which complimented two he had as a player with the Knicks. He worked with the aforementioned Jordan, as well as with Shaquille O’Neill, with Kobe Bryant, with many others, such as Scottie Pippen.

                              The man knows how to win, and, if he says wisdom is more vital than strength, you better listen.

                              15. “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” – Vince Lombardi

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                                Vince Lombardi is the man the Super Bowl Trophy is named after. He was a legendary coach with the Green Bay Packers, and won the first two SuperBowls. Full of hard-nosed wisdom, Lombardi’s quote is one to live by.

                                16. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” – Tim Notke

                                  Tim Notke, a high school basketball coach, said this in a motivational speech to his players to encourage them to work hard in order to be the best.

                                  17. “Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” – Michael Jordan

                                    Michael Jordan is an American retired professional basketball player. He was said to be too short to be signed by Adidas, but with his hard work and persistence, he is now said to be “the greatest basketball player of all time”.

                                    18. “Good is not good when better is expected.” – Vin Scully

                                      Vin Scully is an American retired sportscaster. He has seen lots of good and great players and so he knows everyone has room to improve all the time.

                                      19. “Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.” – Lou Holtz

                                        Lou Holtz is a former American football player, coach, and analyst. He is the only college football coach to lead six different programs to bowl games and guide four different programs to the final top 20 rankings.

                                        20. “It’s not the will to win that matters — everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

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                                          Paul “Bear” Bryant was an American college football player and coach. He was best known as the head coach of the University of Alabama football team. He set a record (later broken) for more games won than any other collegiate coach.

                                          21. “A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.” – Mary Lou Retton

                                            Mary Lou Retton Kelley is a retired American gymnast. At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, she won a gold medal in the individual all-around competition, as well as two silver medals and two bronze medals. But to her, the process of doing the sports still matters more.

                                            22. “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes

                                              Being hailed as one of the fittest men on the planet, Dean Karnazes can run for three days and nights without stopping. His persistence is definitely the key to his success.

                                              23. “What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.” – Andre Agassi

                                                Andre Agassi is an American retired professional tennis player and former world No. 1 player. This is how he motivated himself to keep going and keep winning.

                                                24. “You win a few, you lose a few. Some get rained out. But you got to dress for all of them.” – Satchel Paige

                                                  Once again, Satchel Paige’s wise words have taught us to face failures positively.

                                                  25. “Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.” – Jim Valvano

                                                    Last but not least, here we have Jim Valvano again, who had an excellent coaching career at multiple teams. He always encouraged his teams to never give up, no matter how hard it might be.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                                                    Last Updated on June 3, 2020

                                                    19 Definitions Of Success You Should Never Ignore

                                                    19 Definitions Of Success You Should Never Ignore

                                                    What is success?

                                                    Is it wealth? Is it happiness? Is it fame?

                                                    The late Zig Ziglar was one of the most respected modern day experts on success, motivation, and leading a balanced life. In his book Born to Win!, he argues that success cannot be defined in one sentence, but instead it is comprised of many things. One could argue that the definition depends on the individual and that one size does not fit all[1].

                                                    Here are 19 different definitions of success. Not all of these will resonate with you, but chances are at least a few of them will. Use these or find inspiration here to create your own definition of success that can be applied to your unique life.

                                                    1. Success is always doing your best.

                                                    Success can be achieved when you try your best in all aspects of everything you do, even if that doesn’t lead to big results. If you’ve done your best, you should feel proud of your efforts.

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                                                    2. Success is properly setting concrete goals.

                                                    Be realistic and concrete when setting goals. Success does not come from setting abstract goals. If you know where you’re heading, that is a success in itself, even if you don’t ultimately arrive to the planned destination.

                                                    3. Success is having a place to call home.

                                                    Home is where your heart soars. You are always successful when you can call a place home. Home doesn’t have to be a specific structure. It can be a country, a city, or even a person. If you have a place you feel comfortable and safe, you’re already achieving something great.

                                                    4. Success is understanding the difference between need and want.

                                                    If you can meet your monthly obligations and fulfill your basic needs, you are successful. Being able to identify when you absolutely need something and when you can do without it often leads to financial stability and is a great way to succeed.

                                                    5. Success is believing you can.

                                                    If you believe you can, you will succeed. Self-belief doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so if you’re able to tell yourself that you can achieve the goals in your plans, you’re doing great.

                                                    6. Success is remembering to balance work with passion.

                                                    Work without passion creates undue stress and empty achievements. Focus on what excites you. If you’re happy at your job, that’s great. However, even if you aren’t, you can balance your formal job with hobbies or volunteer work you’re passionate about.

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                                                    7. Success is taking care of your needs.

                                                    Remember to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Self-care is essential if you want to have any meaningful impact on the world around you.

                                                    8. Success is learning that you sometimes have to say no.

                                                    Success only comes with a balanced life. Part of balance is learning to say no. Saying no doesn’t mean you are selfish; it simply means you have priorities and know what you need to give your attention to at any given time.

                                                    9. Success is knowing your life is filled with abundance.

                                                    Love, health, friends, family…life is filled with abundance. Recognizing this is an important step to feeling grateful for all life has given you. If you can feel this, you are already experiencing success.

                                                    10. Success is understanding you cannot keep what you don’t give away.

                                                    You will only succeed if you help others succeed. Learning to give instead of always take is part of creating a world we all want to live in. When you help others, you will also create an environment where others want to help you.

                                                    11. Success is overcoming fear.

                                                    Conquering a fear makes you feel invincible. Even if it’s confronting just one small fear each week, that is certainly something to feel proud of. The bigger fears will take more time, but any work you do to overcome fear will lead to success.

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                                                    12. Success is learning something new each day.

                                                    Successful people understand that learning never stops. Take time each day to converse with someone with opposing views, read an interesting article on a topic you know little about, or watch a TED talk on new research. It doesn’t take long to learn, so get started now.

                                                    13. Success is learning that losing a few battles can help you win a war.

                                                    Successful people choose their battles wisely. When you know which battles will ultimately help you achieve your goals, you will be successful.

                                                    14. Success is loving and being loved back.

                                                    Opening your heart to others is difficult and can produce fear. Having the courage to love and accept love from others is a step toward a fulfilling life and great success.

                                                    15. Success is standing your ground when you believe in something.

                                                    Successful people never give up on things they believe with all their heart. You may hold views that many people disagree with, but if you’ve done your research and know that it’s the right belief for you, you shouldn’t let it go without a fight.

                                                    16. Success is not giving up.

                                                    Perseverance creates grit, and grit achieves success. Even if it takes years to achieve a goal, persisting is key if you want success.

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                                                    17. Success is celebrating small victories.

                                                    Anytime a goal is reached or an obstacle is overcome, take time to celebrate, even if it’s something small. All goals require smaller objectives to be achieved first, so each time you complete one, take time to appreciate the work you put into it.

                                                    18. Success is never letting a disability hold you back.

                                                    Disabilities do not define a person’s success. The body and mind will compensate. Just because you can’t do absolutely everything doesn’t mean you can’t do something. Do what your body and mind allow and always push yourself. That is true success.

                                                    19. Success is understanding that you control your destiny.

                                                    Your destiny is controlled by you and you alone. Take responsibility for your actions and their consequences and you’ll find that you naturally become more successful.

                                                    The Bottom Line

                                                    Success can be defined in many ways. If you are experiencing happiness, love, or adventure in this moment, you’ve already found success. Keep it up.

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                                                    Featured photo credit: Dino Reichmuth via unsplash.com

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