Posted in Sports

Greatest Athlete Quotes of All-Time

Most elite athletes know that in order to succeed at the highest level, they need to develop mental toughness, much like they build strength and agility, and master fundamental skills. With the help of performance coaching, mental conditioning, and sports psychology, athletes are constantly working on their ability to be more present in the moment, stay focused, and embrace any challenge with confidence—all of which are skills that can transform one from being merely good to great, and from successful to superstar. Here is a list of our favorite quotes about the mental game from some of the most iconic sports figures of all time.



“What you are thinking, what shape your mind is in, is what makes the biggest difference of all.”

Willie Mays

“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them­­ – a desire, a dream, a vision.”

Muhammad Ali

“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”

Laird Hamilton

“I’m about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That’s the distance my left ear is from my right.”

Ben Crenshaw

“Competitive toughness is an acquired skill and not an inherited gift.”

Chris Evert

“I’ve been in a poor physical shape many times in my career and I’ve had some of my best results. My best performances happened because my mind was in the right place. The mind is definitely stronger than the body.”

Kelly Slater

“The ideal attitude is to be physically loose and mentally tight.”

Arthur Ashe

“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”

– Yogi Berra

“Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles.”

Alex Karras

“Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body.”

Lynn Jennings



“You’ve got to love what you’re doing. If you love it, you can overcome any handicap or the soreness or all the aches and pains, and continue to play for a long, long time.”

Gordie Howe

“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.”

Mia Hamm

“When I step onto the court, I don’t have to think about anything. If I have a problem off the court, I find that after I play, my mind is clearer and I can come up with a better solution. It’s like therapy. It relaxes me and allows me to solve problems.”

Michael Jordan

“Pressure is a privilege, it only comes to those who earn it”

Billie Jean King

“As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”

Ben Hogan



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

Ronnie Lott

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

 – Muhammad Ali

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

Wayne Gretzky

“I’ve never lost a game. I just ran out of time.”

Michael Jordan

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

Michael Jordan

“When I’m down or maybe when it’s close in the match, I feel like I’m still in it. I don’t feel like I’m letting down. Mentally, I’m still really, really, tough.”

Maria Sharapova

“I think I was given a gift to play golf and to be mentally strong.”

–  Karrie Webb

“I’m stronger than I think I am. Mentally, physically.”

–  Misty May-Treanor

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

John Wooden

“Slump? I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t hittin.”

Yogi Berra



“Why does everyone talk about the past? All that counts is tomorrow’s game.”

Roberto Clemente

“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.”

Michael Phelps

“I’m reflective only in the sense that I learn to move forward. I reflect with a purpose.”

– Kobe Bryant



“My thoughts before a big race are usually pretty simple. I tell myself: Get out of the blocks, run your race, stay relaxed. If you run your race, you’ll win…channel your energy. Focus.”

Carl Lewis

“Concentration is a fine antidote to anxiety.”

Jack Nicklaus

“The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.”

Steve Young

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear out, it’s the pebble inside your shoe”

Muhammad Ali

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

Mark Spitz

“Relax? How can anybody relax and play golf? You have to grip the club, don’t you?”

Ben Hogan

“Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.”

Larry Bird

“Success is found in the running of the race – your planning, preparation, practice, and performance – counts for everything”

John Wooden



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


“Champions keep playing until they get it right.”

Billie Jean King

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

Arnold Palmer

“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way.”

Satchel Paige

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”

Babe Ruth

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

Joe Namath

“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

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

Tommy Lasorda

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

Jack Dempsey

“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

“You’re never a loser until you quit trying.”

Mike Ditka

“Difficulties in life are intended to make us better, not bitter.”

Dan Reeves

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

Jim Valvano