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Inspirational Quotes from Sport Icons

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The world of sports is filled with inspirational sports quotes from players, coaches, and heroes. Inspirational and motivational quotes mix with humorous and wise ones in these collections from a wide range of sports, such as baseball, basketball, soccer, and golf.

Inspirational & Motivational Sports Quotes

"Success isn't owned; it's leased. And rent is due every day."

~ J.J. Watt

“Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.”

~ Bo Jackson

“Figure out what it is you love and do it. Dream really big. Write down what you want and make it happen.”

~ Danica Patrick 

"Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't."

Jerry Rice

“The stuff that made you afraid yesterday, eventually you’re going to get used to it. Presenting yourself on air, saying a joke, asking a girl out. You always have that fear. What if I do this wrong? Or what if I set my goal too high? It’s going to devastate me. I’m going to disappoint a lot of people, so I might as well play it safe. Life takes off on the other side of fear.”

Tony Gonzalez

“I’ve learned two things. Never, ever believe in ‘can’t.’ And be good to people and people will be good to you.”

Dick Vitale

“You’re never too old. One winter I was down in the Phoenix area and this man I met, he and I would meet on the track every Tuesday. I’d be doing my workout, he’d be doing his. He was training for the Boston Marathon and he was 75.”

Shalane Flanagan (2017 New York City Marathon winner)

“There’s no overnight success. Whatever you can do each minute of today to make your dream that much closer to being reality, that’s what it takes to be successful.”

J.J. Watt

“Don’t follow trends. Be different. Continuously change it up.”

Russell Westbrook

"If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven't done anything today."

Lou Holtz

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

Vince Lombardi

“Passion first and everything will fall into place.”

Holly Holm

"Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

~ Lou Holtz

“I try to do the right thing at the right time. They may just be little things, but usually they make the difference between winning and losing.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“I know that I’m never as good or bad as any single performance. I’ve never believed my critics or my worshippers, and I’ve always been able to leave the game at the arena.”

Charles Barkley

“I don’t have to wait for nobody, I move when I wanna move.”

Floyd Mayweather

“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence. If you’re in control, they’re in control.”

Tom Landry

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. I try and have a big breakfast and a big lunch and some nights I have no dinner and the next day I’ll feel the strongest. You don’t put gas in your car when you park it in the garage at night.”

Gary Player

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.”

Lou Gehrig, July 4, 1939, farewell address

“The time when there is no one there to feel sorry for you or to cheer for you is when a player is made.”

Tim Duncan

“For me to get through the toughest periods in my life, I had to look within to find the energy to do it. I don’t give up. Never have. Never will.”

Jonah Lomu

“Never limit yourself, never be satisfied, and smile… It’s free!”

Jennie Finch

“Self-praise is for losers. Be a winner. Stand for something. Always have class, and be humble.”

~ John Madden

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.”

Vince Lombardi

“In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness, and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?”

Jesse Owens

“You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That’s the mark of a true professional.”

Joe Paterno

“No matter the circumstances you may be going through, just push through it.”

Ray Lewis

“Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.”

Matt Biondi

“I figure practice puts your brains in your muscles.”

Sam Snead

“You can’t always control circumstances. However, you can always control your attitude, approach, and response. Your options are to complain or to look ahead and figure out how to make the situation better.”

Tony Dungy

“I learned that if you want to make it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it.”

Gale Sayers

“Worrying gets you nowhere. If you turn up worrying about how you’re going to perform, you’ve already lost. Train hard, turn up, run your best and the rest will take care of itself.”

Usain Bolt

“Moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.”

Martina Navratilova

“Irrespective of whether you have the talent or not, one has to work hard. Just being talented doesn’t mean anything; you can end up wasting it before you realize.”

Virat Kohli

“I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.”

Billie Jean King

“Football is like life. It requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority.”

Vince Lombardi

“Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly.”

~ Shaquille O’Neal

“If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it.”

Ronnie Lott

“Believe me, the reward is not so great without the struggle.”

Wilma Rudolph

“When the mind is controlled and spirit aligned with purpose, the body is capable of so much more than we realize.”

Rich Roll

“When you fail you learn from the mistakes you made and it motivates you to work even harder.”

~ Natalie Gulbis

“I may win and I may lose, but I will never be defeated.”

~ Emmitt Smith

“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

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six 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

“I’ve had to learn to fight all my life – got to learn to keep smiling. If you smile things will work out.”

~ Serena Williams

“When you don’t give up, you cannot fail.”

Adrian Peterson

"You cannot make progress with excuses."

Cam Newton

“You take a crash, you get back up and next time you succeed and that’s a great feeling.”

Shaun White

"I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved."

Urban Meyer

“There are no shortcuts~everything is reps, reps, reps.” 

Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.”

George S. Halas

“The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome. The ride is a lot more fun that way.”

Phil Jackson

“There is only one way to succeed in anything…and that is to give it everything.”

~ Vince Lombardi

“I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year. It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.”

Lionel Messi

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

Babe Ruth

“The way I’ve been brought up to is take critiques and turn them into positives in my game.”

Alex Morgan

“I am no genius; I just worked hard like my other teammates, and I believe all my teammates can win the title as they work hard, too.”
Lin Dan

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

Wayne Gretsky

“A man has to have goals ~ for a day, for a lifetime ~ and that was mine: to have people say, ‘There goes Ted Williams, the  greatest hitter who ever lived.’”

~ Ted Williams

“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.”

Larry Bird

“Take your victories, whatever they may be, cherish them, use them, but don’t settle for them.”

Mia Hamm

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size in the fight of the dog.”

Archie Griffin

“I can’t stand a ballplayer who plays in fear. Any fellow who has a good shot has got to take it and keep taking it. So he misses ~ so what?”

Red Auerbach

“Kill them with success and bury them with a smile.” 

~ Usain Bolt

Funny Sports Quotes

“The more I practice, the luckier I get.”

Gary Player

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

Vince Lombardi

“Somebody once asked me if I ever went up to the plate trying to hit a home run. I said, ‘Sure, every time.’”

Mickey Mantle

“No one ever drowned in sweat.”

Lou Holtz

"Ninety percent of this game is half mental."

Yogi Berra

“The only difference between a good shot and a bad shot is if it goes in or not.”

Charles Barkley

"When you get to a fork in the road, take it."

Yogi Berra

“I always laugh when people ask me about rebounding techniques. I’ve got a technique. It’s called just go get the damn ball.”

~ Charles Barkley

“There are three things you can do in a baseball game. You can win, or you can lose, or it can rain.”

~ Casey Stengel

“When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want them to bury me upside down and my critics can kiss my ass!”

Bob Knight

“I feel like I’m the best, but you’re not going to get me to say that.”

~ Jerry Rice

“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

“The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three-run homers.”

Earl Weaver

“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds.”

Wilt Chamberlain

“We’re shooting 100 percent ~ 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free-throw line.”

Norm Stewart

“You can run a lot of plays when your X is twice as big as the other guys’ O. It makes your X’s and O’s pretty good.”

Paul Westphal

“This year we plan to run and shoot. Next season we hope to run and score.”

Billy Tubbs

“Me shooting 40% at the foul line is just God's way to say nobody's perfect.”

Shaquille O’Neal

Sports Quotes Filled with Wisdom

“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.”

~ Knute Rockne

“Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates.”

Magic Johnson

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.”

Tim Duncan

“The most valuable player is the one who makes the most players valuable.”

Peyton Manning

“Sports teaches you character. It teaches you to play by the rules. It teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose. It teaches you about life.”

Billie Jean King

“The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.”

Bill Russell

“You can’t be afraid to fail.  It’s the only way you succeed…you’re not gonna succeed all the time, and I know that.”

LeBron James

“I believe golf can solve the world’s problems and stop war.”

Arnold Palmer

“Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We.”

Phil Jackson

“Success isn’t measured by money or power or social rank. Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace.”

~ Mike Ditka

“I always tell kids, you have two eyes and one mouth. Keep two open and one closed. You never learn anything if you’re the one talking.”

Gordie Howe

“You don’t play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball.”

Bobby Knight

“I'm still waiting for perfection. In the meantime, I’ll settle for persistence.”

Bo Ryan

“I would tell players to relax and never think about what's at stake. Just think about the basketball game. If you start to think about who is going to win the championship, you've lost your focus.”

~ Michael Jordan

“Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.”

Phil Jackson

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

~ John Wooden

“We try to stress the little things because little things lead to big things.”

Steve Alford

"Focus on being a leader. We have too many reactors in this world. Be out front. Take a few shots every once in a while.

Mike Ditka 

“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.”

~ Knute Rockne

Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.

~ Doug Williams

Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.

~ Matt Biondi

Football doesn't build character, it reveals character.

~ Marv Levy

An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.

~ Emil Zatopek

Age is no barrier. It's a limitation you put on your mind.

~ Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Set your goals high, and don't stop till you get there.

~ Bo Jackson

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

The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination.

~ Tommy Lasorda

Make sure your worst enemy doesn't live between your own two ears.

~ Laird Hamilton

Champions keep playing until they get it right.

~ Billie Jean King

If you fail to prepare, you're prepared to fail.

~ Mark Spitz

What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.

~ Andre Agassi

A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.

~ Mary Lou Retton

The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.

~ Pele

During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.

~ Mickey Mantle

Leadership, like coaching, is fighting for the hearts and souls of men and getting them to believe in you.

~ Eddie Robinson

You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.

~ Arthur Ashe

Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.

~ Arnold Palmer

You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward. But both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self motivation.

~ Homer Rice

Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.

~ Lou Holtz

Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.

~ Mike Singletary

You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, and rest when you know that it was a one hundred percent effort that you gave–win or lose.

~ Gordie Howe

Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time.

~ Lou Brock


27 OF 50

If you have everything under control, you're not moving fast enough.

~ Mario Andretti

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

Push yourself again and again. Don't give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.

~ Larry Bird

What to do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.

~ Dean Smith

I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."

~ Muhammad Ali

If you aren't going all the way, why go at all?

~ Joe Namath

I've learned that something constructive comes from every defeat.

~ Tom Landry

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.

~ Lance Armstrong

It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.

~ Evander Holyfield

The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.

~ Joe Paterno

Your biggest opponent isn't the other guy. It's human nature.

~ Bobby Knight


40 OF 50

Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.

~ Babe Ruth

There are only two options regarding commitment. You're either IN or you're OUT. There is no such thing as life in-between.

~ Pat Riley

Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do.

~ John Wooden

A champion is someone who gets up when he can't.

~ Jack Dempsey

It ain't over till it's over.

~ Yogi Berra

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

You're never a loser until you quit trying.

~ Mike Ditka

It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get up.

~ Vince Lombardi

You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.

~ Wayne Gretzky

Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.

~ Jim Valvano

"We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, discipline, and effort."

~ Jesse Owens

“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.”

~ Carl Lewis

"I think the good and the great are only separated by the willingness to sacrifice."

~ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

"It doesn't matter what your background is and where you come from, if you have dreams and goals, that's all that matters."

~ Serena Williams

“I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

~ Michael Jordan

"Be the hardest working person you can be. That's how you separate yourself from the competition."

~ Stephen Curry

"You have to be able to accept failure to get better."

~ LeBron James

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

~ Arthur Ashe

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

~ Muhammed Ali


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