149 Motivational Quotes for Athletes

As an athlete, you’re not only facing the pressure of bringing home the prize but oftentimes, you can’t help but battle with your own self too. There will be feelings of doubt and insecurity and that’s something you just wouldn’t be able to face alone. This collection of motivational quotes for athletes is for you if you need the courage to keep going. 

Motivational Quotes for Athletes

1. The only way to prove that you’re a good sport is to lose. – Ernie Banks

2. Only he who can see the invisible can do the impossible. – Frank L. Gaines

3. When you’re riding, only the race in which you’re riding is important. – Bill Shoemaker

4. I always felt that my greatest asset was not my physical ability, it was my mental ability. – Bruce Jenner

5. A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever. – Mary Lou Retton

6. Number one is just to gain a passion for running. To love the morning, to love the trail, to love the pace on the track. And if some kid gets really good at it, that’s cool too. – Pat Tyson

7. 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

8. You have to do something in your life that is honorable and not cowardly if you are to live in peace with yourself. – Larry Brown

9. Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer. – Ted Williams

10. The five S’s of sports training are stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit, but the greatest of these is spirit. – Ken Doherty

11. If you can’t outplay them, outwork them. – Ben Hogan

12. People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. – Rogers Hornsby

13. When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge. – Terry Bradshaw

14. 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

15. Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. – William James

16. I’ve learned that something constructive comes from every defeat. – Tom Landry

17. Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears. – Laird Hamilton

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

Motivational Quotes for Athletes

19. If at first you don’t succeed, you are running about average. – M.H. Alderson

20. Continuous effort not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential. – Liane Cardes

21. Good is not good when better is expected. – Vin Scully

22. The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination. – Tommy Lasorda

23. You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours. – Herb Brooks

24. What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle, and giving 110 percent all the time. – Don Zimmer

25. If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail. – Mark Spitz

26. How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game, whether you are a winner or a loser. – Lou Holtz

27. Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence. – George F. Will

28. The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before. – Steve Young

29. The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer. – John Madden

30. Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement. – Matt Biondi

31. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. – Muhammad Ali

32. If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all? – Joe Namath

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

34. Remember this. Hold on to this. This is the only perfection there is, the perfection of helping others. This is the only thing we can do that has any lasting meaning. This is why we’re here. – Andre Agassi

35. It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe. – Muhammad Ali

36. 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

37. Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement. –  Matt Biondi

38. Football doesn’t build character, it reveals character. –  Marv Levy

Motivational Quotes for Athletes

39. Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind. –  Jackie Joyner-Kersee

40. Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there. – Bo Jackson

41. The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination. – Tommy Lasorda

42. Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears. – Laird Hamilton

43. If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail. – Mark Spitz

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

45. The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning. – Pele

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

47. 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

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

49. Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you. – Arnold Palmer

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

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

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

Motivational Quotes for Athletes

53. 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

54. Show me a guy who’s afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time. – Lou Brock

55. If you have everything under control, you’re not moving fast enough. – Mario Andretti

56. Just keep going. Everybody gets better if they keep at it. – Ted Williams

57. 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

58. If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it. – Ronnie Lott

59. Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds. – Larry Bird

60. What do do with a mistake, recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it. – Dean Smith

61. 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

62. If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all? – Joe Namath

63. I’ve learned that something constructive comes from every defeat. – Tom Landry

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

65. The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital. – Joe Paterno

66. Your biggest opponent isn’t the other guy. It’s human nature. – Bobby Knight

67. Never let the fear of striking out get in your way. – Babe Ruth

68. 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

69. Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do. – John Wooden

70. A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t. – Jack Dempsey

71. It ain’t over till it’s over. – Yogi Berra

Motivational Quotes for Athletes

72. 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

73. You’re never a loser until you quit trying. – Mike Ditka

74. It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. – Vince Lombardi

75. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky

76. Never give up. Failure and rejection are only the first steps to succeeding. – Jim Valvano

77. Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination. – Nelson Mandela

78. Passion first and everything will fall into place. – Holly Holm 

79. But I think when we play so often in finals, I think it adds something to the game, you know, because people sometimes miss it and sometimes they don’t have it and they want it, and when they have it, they don’t want it. It’s kind of very strange how that goes. – Roger Federer 

80. I just want people to see me as a hard-working footballer and someone who is passionate about the game. – David Beckham 

81. I don’t have to wait for nobody, I move when I wanna move. – Floyd Mayweather 

82. Never limit yourself, never be satisfied, and smile, it’s free. – Jennie Finch 

83. 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

84. 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

Motivational Quotes for Athletes

85. 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. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with? – Lance Armstrong

86. 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 

87. I want to be a dad, first and foremost. I want to be a good father. I’ve spent so much of my life on the move and travelling around the world that just to set up a home for my family and be a good dad is something that motivates me. – Ricky Ponting 

88. 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 

89. I met a young kid who was undergoing chemotherapy, and Dad would tell me he was on his deathbed. I called him and spoke to him and he’d been watching the races. Then seven months later he was at school, and that’s powered him through. I don’t understand it, but there is power in what we are doing, and power in families being together. – Lewis Hamilton 

90. 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 

91. If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it. – Ronnie Lott 

92. I figure practice puts your brains in your muscles. – Sam Snead 

93. I learned that if you want to make it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it. – Gale Sayers 

94. When I first came on tour, I was playing for money. Now I’m playing to win golf tournaments and the money is more than I ever dreamed I could make. – Annika Sorenstam 

95. I train so hard to make sure failure doesn’t happen. If I do everything I can, and run as fast as I possibly can and someone still beats me, I don’t think of that as failure. – Marion Jones

96. I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion. – Billie Jean King 

97. Moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else. – Martina Navratilova 

98. 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 

99. The more I practice, the luckier I get. – Gary Player 

100. When the mind is controlled and spirit aligned with purpose, the body is capable of so much more than we realize. – Rich Roll

Motivational Quotes for Athletes

101. One of the greatest experiences in life is achieving personal goals that others said would be, impossible to attain. Be proud of your success and share your story with others. – Robert Cheeke 

102. Running into someone better than you are is inevitable as no one is perfect at everything. However, don’t use it as a crutch. Train hard even if there are a thousand people better than you are, that doesn’t mean they all push themselves as hard.

103. Athletes understand that obstacles come with the territory. What matters is how you decide to handle them. Tear them down any way you can, just don’t let them tear you down to the point that you decide to give up.

104. The idea of sportsmanship is touted to every athlete from day one no matter how old they are. However, all the talk about it, about respecting your fellow players and the game itself, can be lost if someone doesn’t actually demonstrate it. Don’t talk about it. Do it.

105. 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. – Eddie Reese

106. Everyone loses at some point. It’s as unavoidable as facing off with someone more skilled than you are. The fact that we give it our all and don’t take home the win can break our spirits, but don’t let that happen. Find it within yourself the drive to keep going, and you’ll come out stronger in the end.

107. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky

108. What to do with a mistake, recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it. – Dean Smith

109. We all make mistakes. Understanding them so that you learn from them ensures they won’t reoccur. Harping on them only allows them to fester and makes certain that you will make that mistake again. Let it go.

110. A challenge means everything. When someone or something pushes us, only then does a true hunger to improve ourselves, to show that we can do anything, awakens inside.

111. Be the person that does something. Don’t stand around so that you turn into a spectator or miss it. Get out there and make memories. If you don’t, someone else surely will.

112. There isn’t an athlete around that hasn’t felt overwhelming pressure to quit after strenuous training. It can wear on the body and mind, break the spirit at points. Just remember the end results, your pain in the gym pays off with your skills out there in the world.

113. Can I jump over two or three guys like I used to? No. Am I as fast as I used to be? No, but I still have the fundamentals and smarts. That’s what enables me to still be a dominant player. As a kid growing up, I never skipped steps. I always worked on fundamentals because I know athleticism is fleeting. – Kobe Bryant

114. You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get. – Michael Phelps

115. Sometimes, you just need some encouragement to shoot for the stars, so to speak. Don’t limit yourself in what you aim to achieve. Jump high and you’re bound to land somewhere great.

116. Hardships are a part of life, so we must learn to handle them and not give them the chance to consume us.

117. If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win. – Carl Lewis

118. Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like muscles of the body. – Lynn Jennings

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

120. Sportsmanship for me is when a guy walks off the court and you really can’t tell whether he won or lost, when he carries himself with pride either way. – Jim Courier

121. Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up. – Dean Karnazes

122. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. – Wayne Gretzky

123. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky

124. Talent is never enough. With few exceptions the best players are the hardest workers. – Magic Johnson

125. You’re the only one who can make the difference. Whatever your dream is, go for it. – Magic Johnson

126. It’s all about the journey, not the outcome.- Carl Lewis

127. The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else. – Martina Navratilova

128. Sports create a bond between contemporaries that lasts a lifetime. It also gives your life structure, discipline, and a genuine, sincere, pure fulfillment that few other areas of endeavor provide. – Bob Cousy

129. If all I’m remembered for is being a good basketball player, then I’ve done a bad job with the rest of my life. – Isiah Thomas

130. The harder you work, the luckier you get. – Gary Player

131. Somebody will always break your records. It is how you live that counts. – Earl Campbell

132. With confidence, you have won even before you have started. – Marcus Garvey

133. Don’t ever forget that you play with your soul as well as your body. – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

134. The only disability in life is a bad attitude. – Scott Hamilton

135. If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough. – Mario Andretti

136. Goals determine what you’re going to be. – Julius Erving

137. When you have fun, it changes all the pressure into pleasure. – Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr.

138. There are no shortcuts everything is reps, reps, reps. – Arnold Schwarzenegger 

139. I get nervous about performing 90% of the time. There’s always that little self-doubt, but I don’t let it get to me. – Torrie Wilson 

140. Leading a healthy, active lifestyle is all about momentum. If I’m in the middle of training it’s easy for me to keep that up. It gets tough when I’m on a break. I just try to start my day with a good breakfast and a quick walk, something simple that gets the day off on the right foot. The more I do that, the more I make healthy choices that reflect the good choices made earlier. – Natalie Coughlin 

141. You can either stick to your goals, or you can just go through the motions and rest on your status. But it’s all about work. – Kristine Lilly 

142. When you fail you learn from the mistakes you made and it motivates you to work even harder. – Natalie Gulbis 

143. The way I’ve been brought up to is take critiques and turn them into positives in my game. – Alex Morgan 

144. All you can do is be your best self. I’m representing more than just me. I think every person should think that way. – Misty Copeland 

145. Believe me, the reward is not so great without the struggle. – Wilma Rudolph

146. 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 

147. I could never have gotten back into my career without the undying support of my husband, who works full time at a stressful job. – Lindsay Davenport 

148. I look into their eyes, shake their hand, pat their back, and wish them luck, but I am thinking, ‘I am going to bury you. – Seve Ballesteros 

149. 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 

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