Sports. The highs, the lows, the weird, the unbelievable, and everything in between. I love it!

It’s hard to get anything other than cliches out of athletes. Over time, there have been hundreds of brilliant quotes come from them like this one from Lou Piniella.

a funny sports quotes  “Statistics are like bikinis—they show a lot but not everything.” – Lou Piniella

I enjoy a good sports quote, often using a motivational sports quote as a mantra for long runs. What you’ll find in this post are 100 quotes organised into categories.

The Greatest Sports Quote Of All Time
Motivational Sports Quotes
Inspirational Sports Quotes
Funny Sports Quotes
Awesome Sports Quotes
Best Sports Quotes From Autobiographies I’ve Read

The Greatest Sports Quote Of All Time

1. “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

Nelson Mandela may not be a pro athlete but these words at the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards (2000) in Monaco make for the greatest sports quote of all time. The full speech is below.

Motivational Sports Quotes

Motivation: the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way.

Motivational in an adjective of motivation. I mention the definition as there is a difference between motivation and inspiration. When it comes to sports quotes it’s tricky to sort them so I’ve done my best based on their definitions.

2. “Passion first and everything will fall into place.” – Holly Holm

3. “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

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

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

6. “Never limit yourself, never be satisfied, and smile… It’s free!” – Jennie Finch

7. “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

8. “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

9. “Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.” – Matt Biondi

10. “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

Lance devastated the world when he confessed to cheating with drugs. But he has continued on with life, not quitting and now I really enjoy his podcast.

greatest sports quote when you are at rock bottom

11. “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

12. “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

13. “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

14. “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

15. “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

16. “Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly.” – Shaquille O’Neal

17. “If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it.” – Ronnie Lott

18. “I figure practice puts your brains in your muscles.” – Sam Snead

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

20. “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

21. “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

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

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

24. “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

25. “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” – Gary Player

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

27. “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

28. “There are no shortcuts—everything is reps, reps, reps.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

29. “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

30. “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

31. “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

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

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

34. “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

35. “Believe me, the reward is not so great without the struggle.” – Wilma Rudolph


Inspirational Sports Quotes

Inspiration: an inspiring or animating action or influence.

As inspirational is the adjective, these inspiring quotes can influence us from the outside. Motivation is more an internal thing. Confusing huh!

36. “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

37. “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

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

39. “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

40. “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

41. “Kill them with success and bury them with a smile.” – Usain Bolt

short sports quotes that instil being a nice person

42. “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

43. “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

44. “I’ve missed more than 9000 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

45. “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

46. “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

47. “Luck? Sure. But only after long practice and only with the ability to think under pressure.” – Babe Zaharias

48. “I wouldn’t let the boys down, no way. If my arm came off I’d still play.” — Jack Bird

49. “When you lose a couple of times, it makes you realize how difficult it is to win.” – Steffi Graf

50. “It doesn’t matter where you come from and no matter where you are or who you are, you can still make it.” – Gift Ngoepe

51. “I was very against pink and purple when I was young, because they were girls’ colors. But that was only because I didn’t want people to write me off for what I can do. When I got into my 20s, I decided that was stupid.” – Danica Parick

52. “I try not to look too far ahead. I could retire as an anchor, but I see myself as always being busy, and I want that connection to sports.” – Linda Cohn

53. “Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people.” ― Martina Navratilova

awesome motivational sports quotes from a tennis player

54. “You’re always going to be criticized to a degree. Some people didn’t like Mother Teresa as well.” – Brendan McCullum

55. “Character, character, character. First, second and third…we were pretty rusty initially. When you have a break for a few weeks you get a bit of rust.” – Graham Henry

56. “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

57. “I’m always having fun in training and in boxing. I think it’s because boxing is my passion.” – Manny Pacquiao

58. “People want to project their own insecurities on others, but I refuse to allow them to put that on me. Just because you don’t think that you could be the best in the world doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have the confidence to believe I can do anything.” ― Ronda Rousey

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

60. “I’ve had a lot of drawbacks and setbacks in my career, but no matter what anyone says about me, I’m determined to be the best skier in the world, and no one is going to stop me.” – Lindsey Vonn

61. “I think the hard part is over. Now it’s time for us to play.” — Kerri Walsh

62. “Friendships first, competition second.” – Yao Ming

This short sports quote is a principle we should all live by. I’ve always admired athletes who can ‘hate’ their opposition on the field, but as soon as the final whistle sounds can be friends and have a beer.

63. “This whole journey was never about making a roster or being on a team. It was about giving myself an opportunity. I wanted to take a risk, put myself out there and put my faith in action. Faith without action is dead. This whole journey, I’ve never felt so alive.” – Jarryd Hayne

64. “Take your victories, whatever the may be, cherish them, use them, but don’t settle for them.” – Mia Hamm

65. “Aim high and don’t sell yourself short. Know that you’re capable. Understand that a lot of people battle with a lot of things – depression, body image or whatever else – so know that it’s not just you. You’re not alone.” – Holly Holm


Funny Sports Quotes

These are some of the top sports quotes. Pure comedy! Some intentional, some not. Not all quotes on sports come out as intended lol.

66. “I hate saying the old cliches. I like to make my own ones up. You’ve just got to take each game as it comes.” – Cory Jane

67. “You don’t like to see hookers going down on players like that.” – Murray Mexted

68. “The drivers have one foot on the brake, one on the clutch and one on the throttle.” – Bob Varsha

69. “Statistics are like bikinis—they show a lot but not everything.” – Lou Piniella


70. “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

71. “For me once I go out there to America I’m pretty much representing all of New Zealand because most people haven’t met New Zealand people, so I have to take that into consideration. If I’m a dick, then they’re like New Zealand guys are dicks.” – Steve Adams

72. “I’m in trouble because I’m normal and slightly arrogant. A lot of people don’t like themselves and I happen to be totally in love with myself.” – Mike Tyson

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

74. “I’m glad I don’t play anymore. I could never learn all of those handshakes.” – Phil Rizzuto

75. “Golf and sex are the only things you can enjoy without being good at them.” – Jimmy Demaret

76. “I enjoy all the oohs! and ahhs! from the gallery when I hit my drives. But I’m getting pretty tired of the awws! and uhhs! when I miss a putt.” – John Daly


Awesome Sports Quotes

These quotes from athletes could be used as inspiration or motivation, but they don’t really fit the bill imo. They are more straight awesome and show how sports plays a role in bringing the world together to learn about one another.

77. “Well, we knocked the bastard off!” – Sir Edmund Hillary

78. “I think he broke his face in the first play of the game, and then he got surgery at half-time and came back to finish the game and they won.” — Marshawn Lynch

Lynch is referring to Sam Burgess. Sam broke his jaw in the first minute of a rugby league grand final which is what Lynch is attempting to describe. Check out the video below! Rugby League is a brutal sport.

79. “When you do something good, the Argentine people really attach themselves to you. They have so many problems back there that they’re looking for somebody to be proud of. I think about that, and I won’t forget it.” – Manu Ginobili

80. “I say this a lot, but every single day I’m living a dream come true.” – Michael Phelps


81. “I wanted to get the fans pumped for the second half, so I sent this tweet: “Need two more dunks on home court for the best crowd ever! #BaylorNation.” – Brittney Griner

82. “My parents always told me to be the same person no matter if you’re No.1 in the world or No. 1000. It doesn’t matter. Always be polite and always be respectful towards others. If people don’t want to be respectful towards me I can’t do anything about it. I’m just going to smile and say ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’, but at the end of the day you can’t make everyone happy.” – Caroline Wozniacki

83. “Sports is the best means of communication between people from different religions and countries.” – Yao Ming

84. “The country is full of good coaches. What it takes to win is a bunch of interested players.” – Don Coryell

85. “One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.” – Knute Rockne

86. “The Spirit of Sports: The spirit of sports gives each of us who participate an opportunity to be creative. Sports knows no sex, age, race or religion. Sports gives us all the ability to test ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally in a way no other aspect of life can. For many of us who struggle with ‘fitting in’ or our identity – sports gives us our first face of confidence. That first bit of confidence can be a gateway to many other great things!” – Dan O’Brien

87. “I want to be a giving woman and just a nice person in general.” – Serena Williams

Just be a nice person. That’s what was said on my home page before the current edition was changed in mid-2017.

88. “Negativity and Hulkamania – 2 things that don’t go together.” – Hollywood Hulk Hogan

89. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.” – Muhammad Ali

90. “The one thing I said all along in the build-up (to game three when the ages of many Maroons players were heavily questioned) is you cannot buy understanding. It either exists or it doesn’t.” – Wally Lewis

91. “Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates.” – Magic Johnson

92. “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

93. “My purpose is to go over there and to see if I can keep bringing sports. I’m hoping it opens doors for us.” – Dennis Rodman

Dennis is talking about North Korea here. While his visits are often controversial, in my opinion, he really is trying to do some good in the world. Nelson Mandela believes it’s possible!

94. “I believe golf can solve the worlds problems and stop war.” – Arnold Palmer

best golf quotes

95. “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

96. “After what I did yesterday, you feel quite embarrassed … It was a very weird, surreal feeling this morning,” – Ernie Els

This was the day after Ernie Els six-putted the first green at The Masters. Even the best in the world can do things amateurs assumed was impossible.

97. “Fans still talk about my big white scrunchie, which became iconic in its own right. I loved that scrunchie and its little sparkles that Peggy glued on herself. Without my scrunchie, I wouldn’t have felt ready to compete. (Yes, I still have it.)” ― Shannon Miller


Best Sports Quotes From Autobiographies I’ve Read**

In addition to watching sports, I like to read biographies and autobiographies from people inside the sports industry. I’m always highlighting bits and pieces of what I like when reading. Below are a few that I want to share in this list.

98. “Three hundred and eighty matches a year. And I loved is. I couldn’t get enough of it.” – Ric Flair

98. “Three hundred and eighty matches a year. And I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it.” – Ric Flair in To Be The Man

99. “At this level, with so many physical talents all capable of doing the same things, the mental side was the separator.” – Dirk Hayhurst in Bigger Then The Game

100. “I continued to call every week until I finally caught him. I think it’s safe to say that this is where I began to learn that persistence pays off.” – Justin Roberts in Best Seat In The House

** will update this section regularly

I’ve never been fond of cheesy quotes about travel. Yet I can apply pretty much all the above quotes to many of my past journeys and ones I will have going forward.

What is the most relatable sports quote for you?