Great Quotes by Great Athletes

Everyone has days where they wake up and just don’t feel motivated to do anything. Sometimes it can be because of lousy weather, other times it can be the result of stress, or it can be due to a grinding week, month or season of practices, competitions and academics.
Though this lack of motivation may seem at times to be insurmountable, it can be eliminated by repeating a quote by your favorite athlete inside your head. At the end of my sophomore year of high school, I had grown tired of not having the mental strength to commit to my training plans and goals. Too many days had gone by where I made an excuses and told myself that I would do my core strengthening tomorrow or that I would get to the gym this weekend. I decided that enough was enough, and I made a list of quotes by great athletes. My plan was to look at this list each morning, and select a quote that would keep me disciplined throughout the day. Here are a few of my favorites:

• “Ask yourself, ‘Can I do better?’ The answer, almost always, is yes.” –One of my favorite quotes, but I was unable to locate the source it.

• “If I am still standing at the end of the race, hit me with a board and knock me down because that means I didn’t run hard enough.” –Steve Jones, former Welsh marathon runner.

Steve Jones

Pictured above: Steve Jones

• “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle–when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” –Roger Bannister, the first person to run a sub 4:00 mile.

• “If you accept the expectations of others, especially the negative ones, you will never change the outcome.” –Michael Jordan, former basketball player, member of the NBA Hall of Fame.

• “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” –Vince Lombardi, Hall of Fame football coach.

• “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” –Henry Ford (he wasn’t an athlete, but I really like that quote).

After making the list of quotes, I found that not only did they give me motivation for athletic training, but they helped give me focus on my academics. This is not the complete list (that would be too long), but these six quotes make up the highlights of that list.

Are there any quotes out there that helped motivate or inspire you to work towards your goals?

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7 Responses to Great Quotes by Great Athletes

  1. ColdWeatherCajun says:

    I memorized this poem and repeat it anytime that I am about to embark upon something difficult.

    “Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find, me unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” William Ernest Henley

  2. Paleogirl Paleogirl says:

    An inspirational quote that comes to mind comes not from a famous athlete, but a movie, Shawshank Redmeption: “Get busy living, or get busy dying” – Morgan Freeman.
    Of course the quote is ten times better already because it was said in Morgan Freeman’s voice, but the meaning can be applied to all daily aspects of life, including attempting to achieve athletic goals. Exercising is a way of ‘living’, so to speak. If you lie around all day and do nothing, you’re busy dying. I got busy living this January and it feels great! Thanks, Morgan.

  3. tunesquad says:

    I am a big fan of the Bannister quote and the Lombardi. Already knew the Bannister one but the Lombardi one is new to me. One of my favorite quotes is:
    “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” -Wayne Gretzky
    Obviously its meant to be about hockey but it can be used in everything. You can never expect success if you don’t make big moves and risks. Just got to believe in yourself and success will find its way.

  4. riverrat riverrat says:

    One of my favorite athletes has always been Wilma Rudolph. She was diagnosed with polio as a young child and told by doctors she would never walk again. Eventually, she did, without any help. Then, she went on to compete in the Olympics and won three gold medals (in track and field). She is truly an incredible woman.

    “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”

  5. PumpingIron PumpingIron says:

    Some of my favorite inspirational quotes include:
    “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits, only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” -Bruce Lee
    “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” -Jerry West
    “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
    “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” -Marine Corps motto

  6. I love this post, and the quotes you chose! I’m obsessed with motivational quotes myself, my dad is a college hockey coach and before every game I send him a couple quotes that he sometimes shares with his team, and he does the same for me. It’s amazing how much other people’s motivation can push you further. Some of my personal favorites are:
    “The only easy day was yesterday.” -Navy Seal motto
    “Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.” – Unknown
    “The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

  7. Fearless Leader ugogal says:

    My brother’s high school cross country coach had one: “It’s mind over matter. I don’t mind, and you don’t matter!”

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