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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

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 January 21, 2021

                                                    8 Creative Ways To Motivate Yourself To Reach Goals

                                                    8 Creative Ways To Motivate Yourself To Reach Goals

                                                    “Self-pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it we can never do anything wise in this world” – Helen Keller

                                                    From the moment our kindergarten teachers asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up to the job interview question that asks us to envision where we see ourselves in five or ten years time, everyone seems to want to know what we’re doing (or hope to do) with our lives. Some of us have detailed road maps in our minds, with mile-markers for each goal: Obtain a college degree, land a dream career, start a family, visit Mars, achieve world domination—whatever. Others like the scenic route. We have a vague picture of someone in the distant future who looks like us and is doing amazing things, but they’re too far off in the distance for us to see just what those amazing things are. Whether you’ve had your entire life planned out since you were 5 yrs old or are just winging it, we all need a jump start from time to time to keep us moving in the right direction—or any direction. Here are eight creative ways to motivate yourself to reach your goals.

                                                    1. Sing to yourself

                                                    Seriously. Like laughter, sunshine, and fresh air; singing elevates our moods and increases our well being. It can even be a useful group exercise to enhance collaboration in the workplace. Read more about it here. Studies have shown that singing triggers a release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural way of chemically relieving pain and stress. When we’re happier, we get more done. This might be why Snow White likes to whistle while she works.

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                                                    2. Visualize your success

                                                    According to Dr. Frank Niles, visualization is a simple but useful motivational technique because when you form a picture of succeeding in your mind, you begin to see the possibility of reaching your goal. When I was working on my dissertation in graduate school, there were days when meeting the daily writing goal I’d set for myself seemed insurmountable, let alone finishing the entire book-length project that sat in my stomach like a baby with an unknown due date. When I began to feel overwhelmed, I’d often visualize the moment of achievement, walking across the stage, receiving my degree, finally earning those three letters at the end of my name that I’d poured so much blood, sweat, tears, and vodka into. Six years and quite a few drinks later, I managed it.

                                                    3. Speak about achieving your goals in definitive, positive terms

                                                    Instead of saying, “if I get married,” “if I get that raise,” “if I quit smoking,” say “when I get married,” “when I get that raise,” “when I quit smoking.” This shifts your focus from possibility to actuality. Spiritual teacher and best-selling author Dr. Wayne Dyer has written and spoken extensively about the “I Am” discourse, which is a form of positive thinking that takes its name from Judeo-Christian Scripture but is portable in any walk of life. Dyer tells us humorously that God didn’t introduce himself to Moses as “I will be,” or “My name is I hope things will work out.” No. He said simply “I am.” Using this affirmative vocabulary in our own lives, argues Dr. Dyer, can help us to visualize our goals and keep our eye on the prize.

                                                    4. Use sticker charts

                                                    We all remember the thrill of achievement when we rushed home from school to show our parents the shiny gold star we’d received on our homework assignments in school. Who’s to say this positive reinforcement can’t work for adults too? Draw up a chart of your goals, with various benchmarks. Each time you achieve a benchmark, give yourself a gold star, or a smiley face, or a googly-eyed cat. Whatever gives you a sense of accomplishment. This ties into the visualization technique as well, because charting the trajectory of completion gives you verifiable proof that you’re making progress.

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                                                    5. Keep a goal diary

                                                    Like creating a chart with eye-catching visuals, writing down your goals and reflecting regularly on their progress helps you to both focus on the desired outcome and holds you accountable. In 1979, a study conducted in the Harvard MBA program asked students if they had goals and if they’d written down those goals. 3% had written down their goals, 13% had goals but hadn’t written them down, and 84% had no clearly defined goals. Ten years later, the study revealed that the 3% who had written down their goals were the most financially successful. While financial stability is only one quantifiable way to measure success, the study still points to a link between clearly defining one’s goals and achieving them.

                                                    6. Find a “study buddy”

                                                    While this can be a useful way to motivate students to complete homework, it can also work well for anyone who has a hard time settling down to work. I used to notice that I graded papers much more efficiently when my boyfriend was sitting in the other room doing the same thing. While this might not work for everyone, I’ve always found that glancing up now and then to make a comment about something I’ve read does more than allow for a break in the action. The other person becomes a sounding board to bounce my ideas off of. Even Sherlock Holmes relied on Watson’s insights to solve his cases.

                                                    7. Keep a corkboard in your workspace or someplace visible, with empowering quotations

                                                    Personally, I find Yoda a great inspiration. It’s hard to quit anything when you’ve got “do or do not. There is no try” staring you in the face. Turn to your favorite books and movies, or your role-models. Pick your favorite inspirational quotes and keep them close to remind you that you can do whatever you set your mind to.

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                                                    8. Daydream

                                                    It might sound counter-intuitive, but I’m going somewhere with this. You probably remember being told off in Biology class for staring into the fathomless blue eyes of your lab partner instead of concentrating on the frog you were supposed to be dissecting. However, according to Margrit Tarpalaru, there’s a way to procrastinate “consciously, creatively, and, most importantly, guiltlessly.”

                                                    Tarpalaru, a teacher who uses this technique to plow through grading, refers to it as the “micro-break,”[1] which many of us probably think of as that reflexive urge to check Facebook for five minutes, only to look up twenty minutes later and wonder how we got sucked into the social media vortex. Instead, Tarpalaru suggests techniques like a quick daydream.

                                                    Glance up from the computer screen and spend a few minutes thinking about all of the glorious things that await you once you’ve gotten through the day, or the week: biking with your partner, having drinks with friends, the summer cruise you’re planning.

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                                                    Like the other visualization techniques we’ve talked about, this practice keeps your eye on the prize, and it’s a conscious form of procrastination because you can’t have that drink, or board that cruise ship unless you meet that deadline, which inevitably forces your mind back on work.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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