70 Short, But Powerful, Motivational Quotes for Athletes

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes Image

Why motivational quotes for athletes? Motivation is a critical determinant of success in sports. Champions are very highly motivated, not just to win, but also to keep working harder than the competition.

Elite athletes don’t just rely on their innate talent to succeed. They also work harder and longer than their competitors. Many sports studies have shown that being naturally gifted isn’t, in and of itself, a predictor for success. Instead, they’ve shown that the number of hours of work and practice is the better predictor.

Of course, if you’re naturally gifted AND you keep on working harder than the competition, even when things aren’t going your way — especially when things aren’t going your way — then the sky’s the limit to what you can achieve.

And what’s the thing that keeps champions bouncing back from failure, refusing to quit, learning from their mistakes, implementing what they learned, maintaining momentum, and preparing themselves for the next challenge? Motivation. Self-motivation.

But even supremely focused, highly motivated individuals need inspiration; from family, friends, other athletes, and “champions” in other walks of life. Inspiration and motivation go hand in hand.

So here are 70 motivational quotes to help awaken YOUR inner champion and be the very best version of yourself you can be. And not just in sport, but in all areas of life too!

Motivational Quotes for Athletes (Awaken Your Inner Champion)

Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Athletics Image

“To give any less than your best is to sacrifice a gift.”

~ Steve Prefontaine

“The only person that can stop you from achieving your goals, is you.”

~ Jackie Joyner Kersee

“It’s all about the journey, not the outcome.”

~ Carl Lewis

“Believe me; the reward is not so great without the struggle.”

~ Wilma Rudolph

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

~ Michael Jordan

“A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.”

~ Mary Lou Retton

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.”

~ William James

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Boxing Image

“Failure I can live with. Not trying is what I can’t handle!”

~ Sanya Richards-Ross

“To have any doubt in your body is the biggest weakness an athlete can have.”

~ Shawn Johnson

“Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal.”

~ Mike Ditka

“I’ve learned that something constructive comes from every defeat.”

~ Tom Landry

“When I race my mind is full of doubts – who will finish second, who will finish third?”

~ Noureddine Morceli

“I’ve always been motivated more by negative comments than by positive ones. I know what I do well. Tell me what I don’t do well.”

~ Abby Wambach

“Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.”

~ Jim Valvano

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Football Image

“I’d rather be inspired by my competition than be jealous.”

~ Jamie Anderson

“If a team wants to intimidate you physically and you let them, they’ve won.”

~ Mia Hamm

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

~ Muhammad Ali

“I never worry about the problem. I worry about the solution.”

~ Shaquille O’Neal

“If you are afraid of failure you don’t deserve to be successful!”

~ Charles Barkley

“Do your best, one shot at a time, and then move on.”

~ Nancy Lopez

“A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.”

~ Jack Dempsey

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Baseball Image

“It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.”

~ Evander Holyfield

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.”

~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Acknowledge your small victories. They will eventually add up to something great.”

~ Kara Goucher

“Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.”

~ George Halas

“It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there.”

~ Mia Hamm

“If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it.”

~ Ronnie Lott

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”

~ Bobby Unser

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Basketball Image

“If you can’t outplay them, outwork them.”

~ Ben Hogan

“No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.”

~ Althea Gibson

“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.”

~ Mark Spitz

“I decided I can’t pay a person to rewind time, so I may as well get over it.”

~ Serena Williams

“Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly.”

~ Shaquille O’Neal

“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

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.”

~ Tommy Lasorda

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Tennis Image

“To succeed you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.”

~ Tony Dorsett

“Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.”

~ Jackie Joyner Kersee

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.”

~ Vince Lombardi

“Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.”

~ Lou Holtz

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”

~ Archie Griffin

“I am a winner before I start the race.”

~ Anon

“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

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Swimming Image

“Set your goals high and don’t stop till you get there.”

~ Bo Jackson

“The more I practice, the luckier I get.”

~ Gary Player | Jerry Barber

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

~ Wayne Gretzky

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

~ Steffi Graf

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

~ Vince Lombardi

“When you’re good at something, you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you.”

~ Walter Payton

“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.”

~ Arnold Palmer

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Golf Image

“The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.”

~ Pele

“When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less.”

~ Paul Brown

“Talent is never enough. With few exceptions the best players are the hardest workers.”

~ Magic Johnson

“What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.”

~ Andre Agassi

“Show me a guy who’s afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time.”

~ Lou Brock

“A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are.”

~ Ara Parseghian

“Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.”

~ Matt Biondi

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Soccer Image

“If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?”

~ Joe Namath

“No one changes the world who isn’t obsessed.”

~ Billie Jean King

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

~ Michael Jordan

“Don’t fear failure. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”

~ Bruce Lee

“Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else.”

~ Anon

“The harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph.”

~ Thomas Paine

“Champions keep playing until they get it right.”

~ Billie Jean King

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Cycling Image

“What to do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.”

~ Dean Smith

“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”

~ Dr. Joyce Brothers

“Failures do what is tension relieving, while winners do what is goal achieving.”

~ Dennis Waitley

“Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do.”

~ John Wooden

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

~ Tim Notke

“Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”

~ Michael Jordan

“Always work hard, never give up, and fight until the end because it’s never really over until the whistle blows.”

~ Alex Morgan

Short Motivational Quotes for Athletes | Winter Sports Image


In the world of sports, motivation plays a vital role in determining success. While innate talent is valuable, numerous studies have shown that the amount of work and practice an athlete puts in is a better predictor of achievement. Champions not only possess natural abilities but also possess the drive to work harder than their competitors, even in the face of failure and adversity.

Motivation serves as the driving force that helps athletes bounce back from setbacks, learn from mistakes, and maintain momentum. It is often fueled by inspiration derived from family, friends, other athletes, and individuals who have excelled in various fields.

To awaken the inner champion within oneself, it is crucial to harness motivation and strive to be the best version across all areas of life. This collection of 70 motivational quotes serves as a source of encouragement, reminding athletes of the importance of giving their best, overcoming self-doubt, embracing teamwork, learning from defeats, and persisting in the pursuit of their goals.

By embodying these principles and maintaining self-motivation, athletes can unlock their full potential and achieve greatness in their chosen endeavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can an athlete maintain motivation during a long and grueling season?

One effective strategy is to set both short-term and long-term goals. Break down the season into smaller milestones, such as individual games or competitions, and focus on achieving those goals. Additionally, regularly remind yourself of the bigger picture and the ultimate objectives you want to accomplish.

Surround yourself with a supportive network of coaches, teammates, and mentors who can provide encouragement and help you stay motivated. Finally, find ways to keep training and competition fresh and exciting, such as varying your workouts, seeking new challenges, and focusing on continuous improvement.

Q: What can athletes do to overcome a motivational slump or lack of enthusiasm?

It’s normal for motivation to ebb and flow, but there are ways to overcome a slump. Start by reflecting on the reasons why you initially became involved in your sport and reconnect with the passion and enjoyment it brings. Take a break if necessary, to recharge both physically and mentally. During this time, try engaging in activities unrelated to your sport to gain a fresh perspective.

Set new goals or revisit your long-term aspirations, and consider seeking inspiration from successful athletes, sports documentaries, or motivational literature. Lastly, remind yourself of past achievements and the progress you’ve made, using them as a source of motivation to push through challenging times.

Q: How can coaches effectively motivate their athletes and create a positive team environment?

Coaches play a crucial role in fostering motivation within their team. Firstly, it’s essential to establish open lines of communication and create a supportive and inclusive environment where athletes feel heard and valued. Recognize and reward individual and team accomplishments to boost morale and reinforce positive behavior.

Provide constructive feedback and guidance, focusing on improvement rather than criticism. Encourage autonomy and involve athletes in the goal-setting process, allowing them to take ownership of their aspirations. Finally, lead by example and display enthusiasm, passion, and dedication for the sport to inspire athletes to do the same.