Sports is one of the greatest examples of hard work and dedication a human can demonstrate.
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, there’s no denying the power of a good motivational sports quote. These 25 sports quotes will inspire you to be your best self, on and off the field.
Inspirational Sport Quotes That Will Change Your Life
Sports are an incredibly important part of our culture, and these athletes are not only famous, but also have a lot to teach us about life. Sports give us the opportunity to be our best and push our limits.
Our sports heroes can teach us so much about life and about ourselves. Sometimes we need their words of wisdom to help us through a tough time and their quotes can be a guiding light for us. So get inspired and go make some history of your own!
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 inspirational sports quotes that could have made this list, but we thought we’d choose one of his most famous.
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 chock full of wisdom and tightly-packed emotion, and it was hard to pick just one sports quote 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-renowned, inspirational, 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 one of his most memorable sports quotes 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. Losing is often what teaches us most about grit.
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
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. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of fame in 2020. Jeter was a player’s player, a hard worker, motivational, 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. Spitz’s inspirational words are an ode to staying ready and prepared for anything. His inspirational quote stays with us as memorable.
7. “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.” – John Madden
John Madden may be known for being a world famous, award winning broadcaster and owner of a popular video game franchise, but before that, he coached the Oakland Raiders to two Superbowl Championships. He was inducted into four different hall of fames, including the California Hall of fame, class of 2009. In this, Madden shows how it wasn’t easy to get where he ended up. His contribution to sports continues to inspire to this day.
8. “Stubbornness usually is considered a negative; but I think that trait has been a positive for me.”- Cal Ripken, Jr.
Cal Ripken Jr., nicknamed “The Iron Man” holds the streak in baseball, for most consecutive games played, with 2,632 games over the course of more than 16 years. He was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. 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. As a two-time World Cup downhill winner, she was the only woman to capture the title. She got into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 2004. 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. As an inspiring coach, he continued to inspire greatness.
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. Keeping your cool can be key to being a success.
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. He still remains the only boxer in history to remain undefeated in two different weight classes. He knows what it takes to be successful.
13. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, who is Canadian, was widely regarded as the best hockey player to ever play the game. He played 20 seasons in the NHL and held a total of 61 NHL records. 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. His inspirational sports quote may be one of the most memorable of all time.
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
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. He led his team in a total of five Super Bowl wins in seven years 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 played 15 seasons in the NBA and has one six championships. He is also known for his successful track record of endorsements. 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 a retired American sportscaster. His tenure with the Dodgers constitutes the longest in sports history as being associated with a single team. 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. In 2008, he was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame. Self-discipline is an important part of being successful at anything you try.
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
Paul “Bear” Bryant was an American college football player and coach. He was best known as the 25 year veteran head coach of the University of Alabama football team. He set a record (later broken) for more games won than any other collegiate coach. He held six national and thirteen conference championships. He knew that preparation is needed to win.
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. She was the first American woman to win the overall gold medal in gymnastics in Olympics. 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 is an endurance athlete that 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. He is an eight time major champion and won gold at the 1996 Olympic Games. 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
Jim Valvano was an award-winning coach with the North Carolina State University, most known for delivering an awe-inspiring speech at the 1993 EPSY awards, while terminally ill with cancer. His courage and dedication to his foundation work is an example to all of us.
In conclusion, athletes have always been looked up to as role models. Some athletes inspired us with their many trophies, wins and hall of fame achievements. Others continue to hold records today within their sport. Their determination and perseverance on the field can teach us a lot about life. We can be inspired by the hard work and dedication it took to get to where they did in their sport.
The best sports quotes will inspire you to be your best self, on and off the field. Sports give us the opportunity to be our best and push our limits. Our sports heroes hard work can teach us so much about life and about ourselves. Whether popular or less well known, we can be inspired by our sports heroes everyday.
Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com