30 Motivational Quotes from the Sports World

A list of EcoSalon’s favorite sports quotes that apply on and off the court.

Sports is human life in microcosm. -Howard Cosell

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, lost almost 300 games, missed the game winning shot 26 times. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed. -Michael Jordan

The power of the human will to compete and the drive to excel beyond the body’s normal capabilities is most beautifully demonstrated in the arena of sport. -Aimee Mullins

Champions keep playing until they get it right. -Billie Jean King

One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team. -Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

All I can say is practice, you never know what you might do. -Soraya Jimenez

The medals don’t mean anything and the glory doesn’t last. It’s all about your happiness. The rewards are going to come, but my happiness is just loving the sport and having fun performing. -Jackie Joyner-Kersee

There are only two options regarding commitment; you’re either in or you’re out. There’s no such thing as life in-between. -Pat Riley

The Six W’s: Work will win when wishing won’t. -Todd Blackledge

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. -Mia Hamm

Sport is a preserver of health. -Hippocrates

The triumph can’t be had without the struggle. And I know what struggle is. I have spent a lifetime trying to share what it has meant to be a woman first in the world of sports so that other young women have a chance to reach their dreams. -Wilma Rudolph

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be. -Wayne Gretzky

The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle. -Author Unknown

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

Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown. -Ross Perot

If you’ve given the greatest effort that you can expect of yourself, you always get what you deserve. -C. Vivian Stringer

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best. -Tim Duncan

It is not how big you are, it’s how big you play. -Author Unknown

Ask any athlete: We all hurt at times. I’m asking my body to go through seven different tasks. To ask it not to ache would be too much. -Jackie Joyner-Kersee

The more I practice, the luckier I get. -Jerry Barber

Success is about having, excellence is about being. Success is about having money and fame, but excellence is being the best you can be. -Mike Ditka

An athlete gains so much knowledge by just participating in a sport. Focus, discipline, hard work, goal setting and, of course, the thrill of finally achieving your goals. These are all lessons in life. -Kristi Yamaguchi

You owe it to yourself to be the best you can possible be – in baseball and in life. -Pete Rose

I don’t think I ever knew just how great it can feel to push your body past its limits, and running is a great way to do it. In fact, the harder I train, the more awesome the after-effects! -Sasha Azevedo

When you lose a couple of times, it makes you realize how difficult it is to win. -Steffi Graf

Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period. -Lou Holtz

If it is a cliché to say athletics build character as well as muscle, then I subscribe to the cliché. -Gerald Ford

Be positive and work hard. I think it’s possible to overcome anything, if you’re willing to work at it. -Sheryl Swoopes

Sport is where an entire life can be compressed into a few hours, where the emotions of a lifetime can be felt on an acre or two of ground, where a person can suffer and die and rise again on six miles of trails through a New York City park. Sport is a theater where sinner can turn saint and a common man become an uncommon hero, where the past and the future can fuse with the present. Sport is singularly able to give us peak experiences where we feel completely one with the world and transcend all conflicts as we finally become our own potential. -George A. Sheehan

Images: Misty, The U.S. Army, William Warby.


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Jessica Marati

Jessica Marati currently resides in New York City and covers travel and sustainability for EcoSalon. Catch her weekly column, Behind the Label.