Sports are often used as a source of motivation for billions of people all around the world and it shows in some of the most inspirational sports quotes. They can motivate and inspire just about anyone, no matter who you are or how much you follow the ever-evolving sports universe.
Quotes play an integral role in the society we live in today. In the words of Gloria Steinem, “quotes are short enough to be remembered, but smart enough to be memorable.” When you come across one that speaks to you and your story, you’ll remember it for the rest of your life.
In the sports world, quotes are spoken on a daily basis. Sometimes it comes from coaches and players during a press conference, while other times it comes from a journalist, analyst, reporter, or even a fan. Either way, inspirational sports quotes can put a huge smile on anyone’s face.
You’ll Love These Inspirational Sports Quotes
Inspirational sports quotes will always have a special place in my heart – and I know I’m not the only one. They get my juices flowing, they get me excited, they spark that fire within me, and they help me channel my inner athlete – even when I’m not playing or watching an actual sport.
What makes inspirational sports quotes so popular is how relatable they are – not just to sports, but to life in general. You can apply them to your day-to-day routine, your work attitude, your relationships, and in your philosophy. They can help shape you into the person you want to be.
In the sports world today, there’s no shortage of inspirational sports quotes. It’s going to be extremely difficult narrowing them down to 20 that I feel are some of the most inspirational, but that’s exactly what I’ve been challenged to do. Don’t worry, I won’t let all your athletes down!
20. “Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.” – George Halas
George Halas spent 64 years as a member of the Chicago Bears’ franchise in the NFL – as a player, promoter, manager, owner, and most infamously as coach. He finished his Hall of Fame career with six NFL titles and 324 coaching victories. He was inducted into the HOF in 1963.
Halas has a point with this quote. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or how difficult the challenge is, you should never give less than your best. By giving your best, you can walk away from anything with pride, even in the face of defeat. Give your best, be your best, and succeed.
19. “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” – Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is one of the greatest basketball players to ever live. He spent 15 years in the league and averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game in his career. He won six titles, five MVPs, Rookie of the Year, and Defensive POY.
We all have goals and we all have dreams that we hope to one day reach. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it won’t mean anything unless you 100% expect yourself to reach those goals. That’s when you start turning those goals into reality, and that reality into continued success.
18. “I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.” – Sandy Koufax
Sandy Koufax is a Hall of Fame pitcher that spent 12 seasons in the MLB – all of which with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He finished with a 165-87 record, 2.76 ERA, 137 complete games, 40 shutouts, and 2,396 strikeouts. He was a one-time MVP and three-time Cy Young winner.
Koufax does a great job of displaying the difference between a good pitcher and a bad one. Some pitchers spend their entire career trying to make hitters miss, but the good ones try to make hitters hit. Good pitchers are up to the challenge and aren’t going to back down from it.
17. “Today, you have 100% of your life left.” – Tom Landry
Tom Landry is one of the greatest football coaches of all-time. He spent 29 years as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and finished his career with a 270-178-6 record. He led the team to 20-straight winning seasons and two Super Bowl wins – Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII.
This isn’t necessarily a sports quote, but it is inspirational and was spoken by a prominent figure in the sports world. Basically what he’s saying is that each day is a new day and no matter how much time passes, you will always have 100% of your life left – as you look at it that way.
16. “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
Derek Jeter is one of the most recognizable names in New York Yankees’ history. He spent his entire 20-year MLB career with the team, batting .310 with 260 home runs, 1,311 RBIs, and 1,923 runs scored. He helped lead the team to five World Series and was Rookie of the Year.
Jeter is right – you aren’t always going to be the most talented in the room and there will likely always be someone with more skill. With that said, it shouldn’t stop you from being the best version of yourself and that’s something that will come with hard work, effort, and dedication.
15. “Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” – Mike Singletary
Mike Singletary is one of the best linebackers in NFL history. He spent 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears and was named to 10 Pro Bowls. He was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and one-time Super Bowl champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a linebacker in the NFL, the CEO of a tech company, a cashier at a grocery store, or in school – having an appreciation for the opportunities you get is crucial. Sometimes the statistics, records, and performance comes second to pure appreciation.
14. “Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” – William James
William James wasn’t an athlete, but he is often referred to as the Father of American Psychology and was one of the leading thinkers and philosophers of the 1800s. His work was rooted in physiology, psychology, philosophy. You’ve likely heard of some of his past work.
He studied the psychology of the ‘second wind,’ also known as ‘reserve energy.’ The idea is that many athletes have a second wind, but not all athletes push themselves to the point of learning they have it. It’s a shame because it’s this second wind that gives certain athletes that edge.
13. “Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” – Michael Jordan
This is our second Michael Jordan quote and it won’t be our last because he was full of inspirational sports quotes that we absolutely love. It gives you a glimpse into Jordan’s mindset and attitude – the same mindset and attitude that led him to his success in the basketball world.
He speaks about how limits and fears are often an illusion, meaning they aren’t real. Limits and fears only exist to slow us down and the more we cater to those limits and fears, the slower we get. You have to learn to look past your limits and push yourself to achieve greatness daily.
12. “Make each day your masterpiece.” – John Wooden
John Wooden is widely regarded as the greatest college basketball coach of all-time. He had a great college career at Purdue as a player and was a high school coach for 15 years. That’s when he became the coach of UCLA and won 10 NCAA Championships in a span of 12 years.
Wooden must’ve taken his own advice with this quote during his almost 30-year career at UCLA. Not only is every day a new day, but it’s whatever you make of it and Wooden was one that wanted to make that day into a masterpiece. We think you should do the same, as well!
11. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
Alright, we’ve made it back around to yet another Michael Jordan quote, but this is my favorite one yet. We all know MJ for his accomplishments. The championships, the MVPs, the scoring titles, and the other accolades he achieved during his illustrious and legendary 15-year career.
Taking into account all of his accomplishments, it’s easy to forget that MJ – like most athletes – was just as much a failure as he was a success. Ironically, that is why he succeeded so much. He always knew how to get back up when he fell down and always came back stronger.
10. “Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden
Much like MJ, John Wooden had so many inspirational sports quotes and was so highly respected in the sports community that I couldn’t help to feature him multiple times on this list. He always knew what to say and that’s why he’s known as one of the greatest teachers.
We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. There’s nothing you can do to change that. Even if you start strengthening your weaknesses, there’s no way you’ll strengthen all of them. What’s most important is that you don’t let your weaknesses overshadow your strengths.
9. “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” – Vince Lombardi
We’ve talked about several great football coaches on this list, so it’s only right that we highlight Vince Lombardi – one of the most recognizable football coaches in NFL history. In a 10-year Hall of Fame career, Lombardi had a 105-35-6 record, five NFL titles, and two Super Bowls.
Every athlete wants to win. It’s what drives them to greatness, even more-so than individual statistics. But that doesn’t mean you’re always going to win and you’ll have rough patches in your life. While you won’t always win, you should always want to win – and expect to win.
8. “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” – Vince Lombardi
Don’t go anywhere because we have another Vince Lombardi quote that’s worth highlighting here – that’s back-to-back Lombardi quotes! This one is another quote about winning, which makes sense because Lombardi was one of the most prominent winners in football history.
It’s a simple quote, but one that carries a lot of weight. Winners never quit – in fact, it’s impossible to win if you quit. Why? Well, because quitters never win. If your goal is to win, whether or not you actually do, you have to give 110% effort all the way until the final whistle.
7. “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.” – Les Brown
Les Brown is the second person on this list that wasn’t an athlete, but he knew the right words to say and inspired athletes around the world. He was a politician and keynote speaker that changed the lives of many with his simple, yet elegant and exquisite way of viewing the world.
As humans, we’re going to face some tough battles in our lifetime – some tougher than others. Those battles are usually where we grow the most. While some people give up during tough times, Les Brown says don’t because the sweetest victories come from the toughest battles.
6. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky is widely regarded as the greatest hockey player to ever grace this Earth. He holds numerous records that may never be broken. During his 20-year NHL career, Gretzky totaled 894 goals, 1,963 assists, and 2,857 points in 1,487 games. He was dominant.
We often look at percentages and in fact, a lot of our decisions are based on the likelihood of us succeeding. And while there’s nothing wrong with picking your battles in certain situations, it’s important to remember that you will never succeed unless you actually give yourself a chance.
5. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” – Tim Notke
Tim Notke is a name many might not recognize on this list and that’s because he was never thrown into the spotlight. He was a high school basketball coach that loved what he did and loved changing the lives of young basketball players whenever you had the chance to do so.
I absolutely love this quote and that’s why I have it in my top-five. Some people have a hard work ethic and some people have natural talent – some even have both. But just because someone is more talented than you, doesn’t mean they can outwork you – and they shouldn’t.
4. “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.” – Tommy Lasorda
Tommy Lasorda is one of the most legendary baseball managers in the history of the game. He only played a few seasons as a pitcher before turning to coaching and eventually managing. As manager, he helped the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 1,599-1,439 record between 1976 and 1996.
Lasorda was right – there are three types of people in this world. Those with the drive to make things happen, those that are too lazy to make things happen, and those that are always a little too late to the party – they’re in their own world. The question is which one are you going to be?
3. “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 is a legendary college football coach. He coached Maryland, Kentucky, and Texas A&M before arriving at Alabama, where he coached for 25 years. During that time, he led the team to a 232-46-9 record, 13 conference championships, and six National Championships.
Bear Bryant was telling the truth when he said that everyone has the will to win – I mean, no one ever wants to lose or fail. The problem is that most people aren’t willing to prepare and practice to the point where winning isn’t just a want – it’s a requirement and it’s expected.
2. “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” – Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth – one of the most recognizable and infamous names in all of baseball history. During his 22-year career, most of which with the New York Yankees, Ruth batted .342 with 714 home runs, 2,214 RBIs, and 2,174 runs scored. He helped his team win seven World Series.
Of all his successes, many people might be surprised to learn that Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times during his career. In fact, he led the major leagues in strikeouts on five different occasions. Still, he never let that get in his way and every time he struck out, he came back even stronger.
1. “It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.” – Evander Holyfield
Evander Holyfield was a heavyweight and cruiserweight boxer that made his pro debut on November 15, 1984 and fought his final fight on May 7, 2011. During that time, he amassed a 44-10-2 record and was the undisputed champion in both weight classes – the only boxer to do so.
When he wasn’t knocking out other world-class boxers, Holyfield was knocking us out with his words – in a good way, though. He theorized that it wasn’t the size of the man that mattered most. Instead, it was the size of their heart because heart will always triumph in times of need.
What Are Your Favorite Inspirational Sports Quotes?
Inspirational sports quotes hit everyone differently. Some people are going through a rough time in their life and need extra motivation. Some people are gearing up for a crucial moment in their life and need to light that fire within them. And some people just like inspirational sports quotes.
It doesn’t really matter which side of the spectrum you fall on, so long as you take away what you need from the quote – that’s all that really matters. And when you do, make sure you don’t forget it. That way, you can always turn back to that quote when you need some inspiration.
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Well, we shared with you some of our favorite inspirational sports quotes and even shared how those quotes make us feel. Now, we want to know what your favorite inspirational sports quotes are. Did we highlight any of them? Did we introduce you to some new ones? We want to know!
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