The 22 most motivating quotes from history’s greatest athletes and coaches

Devina Corel
March 28, 2017

We might not all be world-renowned athletes like the people on this list, but that doesn’t mean their achievements can’t inspire us to strive for greatness. These words of wisdom can be applied to all aspects of our lives, whether it’s finishing our first marathon or simply getting through a rough day.

If you want some advice on how to win at life, you’ll find it in these 22 quotes from the people that do motivation best. Read on and start winning!

1. “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.” –Muhammad Ali (Boxer)

2. “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” –Vince Lombardi (NFL Football Coach)

3. “It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there.” –Mia Hamm (Soccer Player)

4. “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” –Michael Jordan (Basketball Player)

Jordan Slam Dunk Competition

5. “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” –Fred Devito (Yoga Instructor)

6. “It’s better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.” –Jackie Joyner Kersee (Olympic Track & Field)

7. “When my time on Earth is gone, and my activities here are past, I want them to bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass.” –Bobby Knight (Basketball Coach)

8. “As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” — Ben Hogan (Golfer)

9. “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 (Hockey Player)


10. “Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like muscles of the body.” –Lynn Jennings (Long-distance Runner)

11. “It ain’t over till it’s over.” –Yogi Berra (Baseball Player)


12. “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” –Wilma Rudolph (Olympic Track & Field)

13. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” –Wayne Gretzky (Hockey Player)

14. “What do do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.” –Dean Smith (Basketball Coach)

15. “Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” –Jerry Rice (Football Player)

16. “Whoever said, ‘It’s not whether you win or lose that counts,’ probably lost.” –Martina Navratilova (Tennis Player)


17. “The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.” –Pele (Soccer Player)

18. “It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.” –Evander Holyfield (Boxer)

19. “Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.” –Mary Lou Retton (Olympic gymnast)


20. “Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.” –Laird Hamilton (Surfer)

21. “The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.” –Arnold Schwarzenegger (Bodybuilder)

22. “Be bold. If you’re going to make an error, make a doozy, and don’t be afraid to hit the ball.” –Billie Jean King (Tennis Player)


Now that you’ve been motivated, get out there and do something awesome!

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