The 17 Most Inspiring Sports Speeches You've Ever Heard

Words of inspiration.

When looking for inspiration, you can often find it in the words of coaches and athletes. These words of wisdom from some of the greatest sports speeches in history will inspire and motivate you to take on life's many challenges.

Here are the most inspiring speeches in sports history:


1. "Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit."

Legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi would deliver this speech on the way to winning the first two Super Bowls.

2. "If you don't feel those butterflies in your stomach now...when we walk out that door, they turn to dragons. Because they get bigger and they get stronger and we use them. And those dragons are going to breathe fire."

Coach Scott Quinnell delivered this passionate speech to his rugby team during the television documentary School of Hard Knocks in 2012.

3. "When you're part of a team, you stand up for your teammates. Your loyalty is to them. You protect them through good and bad, because they'd do the same for you."

Though he was known for his quirky bon mots, New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra also delivered inspirational quotes like this one.

4. "And the last thing he said to me -- "Rock," he said - "sometime, when the team is up against it -- and the breaks are beating the boys -- tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper."

Notre Dame Football Head Coach Knute Rockne motivated his team during halftime against Army with his tale of the last words of George Gipp, one of the greatest players in Notre Dame history. Notre Dame emerged from the locker room after the inspirational speech and won the game.

5. "Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that's what you have here tonight, boys."

U.S. Men's Hockey Coach Herb Brooks provided some motivational words to his team before they shocked the world and pulled off one of the greatest upsets of all time by defeating the Soviet Union hockey team at the 1980 Olympics.

6. "There are a lot of people out here tonight who think you are the least likely candidate to be successful...Now they're bigger and they got athletes going to Division I schools, we can see that and so can everybody else. But nobody can see the intangible with the intangible tonight."

In 2007, Indian Hill Braves High School Football CoachTony Arcuri gave this inspiring oration to his team before a big game.

7. "Let 'em know. Leave no doubt, tonight. LEAVE NO DOUBT, TONIGHT...Not this night."

West Virginia football Head Coach Bill Stewart issued a passionate challenge to his players before the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

8. "You tell everyone or anyone that has ever doubted, thought they did not measure up or wanted to quit, you tell them to look up, get up and don't ever give up."

Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Michael Irvin said this during his Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony.

9. "No matter how bad things go, my heart and my mind will carry my body when my limbs are too weak. Who am I? I am a champion!"

Leland High School Football Coach John Flowers gave a passionate speech to pump up the JV players.

10. "Tonight is not about the past and it's not about the future. It's about right now. And you guys have gotta want this night to last forever."

University of Florida Gators Men's Basketball Head Coach Billy Donovan motivated his team the right way just before the National Championship game in 2006.

11. "Don't give up. Don't ever give up."

A man of few words, North Carolina State University Men's Basketball Head Coach Jim Valvano spoke at the 1993 ESPY Awards and gave a heart-warming speech just before he passed away eight weeks later from cancer.

12. "It's all about you. It's not about one person. And that's the journey we're on. It's going to be about us as we continue on...It's all about the prize at the end."

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees spoke to his entire team in December 2011after breaking Dan Marino's passing record.

13. "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth...I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for."

New York Yankees All-Star Lou Gehrig's legendary speech showed his immense courage and humility, inspiring hope in people everywhere.

14. "Regardless of the scoreboard, you're going to be successful because you put in all the time, all the effort, all the hard work and you know it's going to pay off."

Apollos Hester, an East View High School football player, gave this stirring speech after a hard-fought 2014 victory.

15. “Wins and losses come a dime a dozen. But effort? Nobody can judge that. Because effort is between you and you.”

Super Bowl Winning Linebacker Ray Lewis, from the Baltimore Ravens, gave this inspiring pep talk to the Stanford Basketball team at the NCAA National Invitation Tournament.

16. "Pride. You're going to take that for the rest of your life what you provided for a town in Cumberland."

Coach Dave Belisle spoke to the Little League Baseball Team he managed during the 2014 Little League World Series and gave a memorable speech that was full of emotion.

17. “We go to different schools, difficult situations, but that’s not what makes us weak. That’s what makes us stronger than everybody else. This should be your motivation. This is not an excuse. Humility. That’s why we get in this dirt. That’s why we get on this hill. So we remain humble.”

Coach Ed Dunn of the Martin Luther King High School football team in Philadelphia paused practice and delivered these words of inspiration to his team following a tough loss. The story of Coach Dunn and the students are featured in the Emmy-award winning documentary "We Could Be King."

These famous speeches resonate not just in sports but across all aspects of life — inspiring us, motivating us, lighting a path to our better selves. Keep these words on hand whenever you need a boost — be it on the field or in school, at home or at work — and share them with anyone you know who might benefit from these timeless words of wisdom.

Cover image via iStock


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