What attracts us to sports? There’s the thrill of competing, the recognition that hard work can lead to success, and the camaraderie of playing with teammates for a bigger purpose.
With these inspirational quotes for athletes, we capture some of those aspects of sports that you might find appealing as you train and participate.
Sports can serve as a metaphor for life. Some of the same highs and lows we experience in sports happen to us in different ways in our day-to-day living. Hopefully, these inspiring sports sayings will help you reflect on your efforts and inspire you to be a better athlete and a better person.
Inspiring Athletic Quotes
1.) “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 recognized in this saying that one aspect that every athlete has some control over is how hard they work. Sometimes, the difference between making it big or getting cut is your level of effort, as many rises in the ranks of professional sports that realize that many folks have the talent. But, it’s the ones who put in the time that become the All-Stars.
2.) “We are stronger together than we are alone.”
As part of one of the best NFL teams – the 1985 Chicago Bears – Walter Payton knew a thing or two about the importance of playing together as a team. A cohesive unit that plays each role to the best of each player’s ability can be a force to be reckoned with. Sweetness knew what he was talking about.
3.) “The most valuable player is the one that makes the most players valuable.”
When Peyton Manning spoke these words, he’d probably been the MVP of his team and leagues a few times. He knew that to add value to a team truly; you need to play a leadership role and make others around you better. It’s not just about improving your own skills. The great ones can do it.
4.) “To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t know where he is going.”
Joe Namath, aka “Broadway Joe,” led his New York Jets to an upset win securing the first victory for the AFL against the NFL. He was a leader who played with confidence. And, he wasn’t afraid to put his name on the line in support of his team. He famously predicted the Jets would beat the Colts in Super Bowl III. The final score: Jets 16, Colts 7.
Good Athlete Quotes
5.) “The weight room isn’t for everyone. Then again, neither is playing time… and neither is winning.”
Committing to improving requires additional work. There’s just getting around it. In these inspirational quotes for athletes, one thing that should shine through is that success isn’t delivered on a platter. You can’t take the elevator to reach the top level of your sport. You must take the stairs. And that requires work, perseverance, and some heart.
6.) “Not wanting to disappoint is what pushed me to be successful.”
Athletes find the motivation to push themselves harder and to win via various means. If you listen to many coaches being interviewed, a common theme is “us vs. them” and their belief that everyone is against them. It’s a common crutch to develop unity and team desire. In this case, Jerry Rice found inspiration in not wanting to let anyone down. Maybe that included his family, his parents, his coach, teammates, and others. Find the motivation that works for you and put it in motion.
7.) “If coaches are pushing you hard, be thankful. It means they care. Be worried when they stop.”
Sometimes players get upset that a particular coach is riding them. Nearly always, this shows that the coach thinks the athlete has the ability to do better. The attention the player receives can be viewed positively. The coach wouldn’t spend this amount of time unless the player has the potential.”
Best Inspirational Quotes For Athletes
8.) “I was told in high school that the last game during your senior year stays with you forever, which is true.”
In this inspirational sports quote, Jim Otto notes that many athletes are playing for memories. There’s the first game, the last game, and hopefully a championship game or two. All of these important contests create memories. It’s a reminder to play your best because you might be playing it over in your mind for many years to come. Thanks 00 (Jim’s number with the Raiders – look at his last name to see why he selected this number) for your insight.
9.) “If you do the bare minimum, expect the bare minimum results. If you want to be great, work to be great. Nothing just happens.”
J.J. Watt, the standout defender for the Houston Texans, doesn’t strike you as a person who does anything halfway. He goes all out. And this inspirational quote reflects that attitude. It’s a great message for all of us. If you want to be special, you need to prepare specially.
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Game Day Quotes
10.) “Remember, tomorrow is not promised to anyone.”
For many in their sports career, there are some regrets. Walter Payton calls out that things can change quickly, so make sure you take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves now. You don’t know if you’ll be playing with the same team, the same players, or exactly what will happen in your future. The key message: live for today.
11.) “I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting once it starts hurting.
Muhammad Ali had a way with words. He recognized the importance of training, but you always got the sense that it was challenging for him to continue to stay on top. The commitment he showed through his various comebacks is a testimony that although it wasn’t easy, he worked his way through it.
12.) Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.
Mike Singletary appreciated the thrill of just being out on the football field. Not everyone has that opportunity, and for Mike, he wanted to appreciate it truly. He understood that many folks are working dead-end jobs and not having the thrill of playing before a packed stadium.
13.) “When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.”
Terry Bradshaw, four-time Super Bowl-winning QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers, loved competition. Weekly practices and off-season training led to Sunday games where you had an opportunity to showcase your talent. Sports provides a platform for competing.
Motivational Athletic Quotes
I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.
Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.
A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.
Mary Lou Retton
In baseball and in business, there are three types of people. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happened.
The only way to prove you are a good sport is to lose.
The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.
Never Give Up
Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.
To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.
Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.
Champions keep playing until they get it right.
Billie Jean King
I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life a champion.
Show me a gracious loser and I’ll show you a failure.
My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.
You’re never a loser until you quit trying.
Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.
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.
It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.
Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.
Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength.
The only lasting thing is self-motivation.
Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.
An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.
Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pele. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man.
All In Quotes
I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.
You’re either IN or you’re OUT. There is no such thing as life in-between.
I’ve always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me. I never quit trying; I never felt that I didn’t have a chance to win.
I always felt that my greatest asset was not my physical ability, it was my mental ability.
I’ve got a theory that if you give 100% all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end.
Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.
The hardest skill to acquire in this sport is the one where you compete all out, give it all you have, and you are still getting beat no matter what you do. When you have the killer instinct to fight through that, it is very special.
I never left the field saying I could have done more to get ready and that gives me peace of mind.
Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.
One man be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.
You’ll score a lot of goals in your career but not one of them will happen without the help of a teammate.
A team is where a boy can prove his courage on his own. A gang is where a coward goes to hide.
You don’t play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball.
You never learn anything if you’re the one talking.
One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.
A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1.) How do you inspire athletes?
The key to motivating players is to build trust. To accomplish that, a coach needs to be consistent and truthful. Don’t be afraid to share your own feelings with athletes. You’ve likely been through some of the same things that they’ll be experiencing. Show you care.
2.) How do athletes gain confidence?
A coach should foster an environment where taking risks is encouraged, and it’s okay to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. It starts in practice but should also be part of coaching for games. Encourage players to try a move, e.g., dribble left-handed for a lay-up they’ve never tried before. Reward the effort, if not the result.
3.) How to use these inspiring sports quotes?
These insights can be used in conversation or writing. In writing, consider kicking of practice with one of your favorite inspirational sports quotes, including the quote in emails, sports programs, or hand-written notes to players. Be creative.
By Mike O’Halloran
Mike is the founder and editor of Sports Feel Good Stories. He’s written three books on basketball and is a former contributing writer for USA Football (the youth arm of the NFL).
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