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Champion Quotes for the Athlete, Coach & Parent

Here at Play Like a Champion, we love a good quote. From hall-of-fame athletes to legendary coaches - and even those outside the game - we believe coaches and athletes can benefit by learning from those who have gone before them. So we put together the following list of some of our favorites to get you motivated as we head into the fall seasons. Take a look at what some of sports' best have had to say about important topics like winning, losing and becoming a champion. Consider this bulletin board material for your team...


Legendary Basketball Coach John Wooden

On Winning…

  • “A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.” – Mary Lou Retton, Olympic Gymnast

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

  • "Victory is in having done your best. If you’ve done your best, you’ve won.” – Bill Bowerman, Legendary Track Coach & Co-Founder of Nike

  • “At a young age winning is not the most important thing… the important thing is to develop creative and skilled players with good confidence.” – Arsene Wenger, Legendary European Soccer Coach (Arsenal FC)

  • “Winning takes talent. To repeat takes character.” – John Wooden, Legendary College Basketball Coach (UCLA)

  • “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” – Grantland Rice, Famous Sportswriter from Early 20th Century

  • “Competing at the highest level is not about winning. It’s about preparation, courage, understanding and nurturing your people, and heart. Winning is the result.” – Joe Torre, Hall of Fame Baseball Coach

  • “If you win every time, you don’t learn anything. You don’t learn anything about yourself. You don’t learn anything about the other person. You don’t learn anything about the game. You don’t learn anything about life.” – Jack Nicklaus, Legendary Golfer (Most Major Victories All-Time)


Tennis Legend Arthur Ashe

On Competition…

  • “You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.” – Arthur Ashe, Men’s Tennis Hall of Famer & Pioneer


On Being a Champion…

  • “Champions keep playing until they get it right.” – Billie Jean King, Women's Tennis Legend

  • “A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” – Pat Riley, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach & Former Player

  • “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” – John Wooden, Legendary College Basketball Coach (UCLA)

  • “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” – Pat Riley, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach & Former Player

  • “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” – John Wooden, Legendary College Basketball Coach (UCLA)


Soccer Legend Mia Hamm

On Play…

  • “Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” – Mike Singletary, Hall of Fame Football Player & Current Coach

  • “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, Legendary US Women’s Soccer Player


On Sportsmanship…

  • “One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.” – Knute Rockne, Legendary Notre Dame Football Coach


On Adversity…

  • “I’ve failed over and over and over in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan, Basketball Legend

  • "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and adversity." - Martin Luther King Jr.


On Communication…

  • “The most important thing in coaching is communication. It’s not what you say as much as what they absorb.” – Red Auerbach, Hall of Fame Coach (Boston Celtics)

  • “A common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportional amount of time on “x’s and o’s” as compared to time spent learning about people.” – Mike Krzyzewski, Winningest College Basketball Coach of All-Time (Duke)

  • “Players don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Pat Summitt, Legendary Women’s Basketball Coach (Tennessee)


Legendary Football Coach Vince Lombardi

On Leadership…

  • "Leaders are made, not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile." - Vince Lombardi, Legendary Football Coach

  • "You show me a man who belittles another and I will show you a man who is not a leader; or one who is not charitable, who has no respect for the dignity of another, is not loyal, and I will show you a man who is not a leader." - Vince Lombardi


On Sports…

  • “Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence.” – George F. Will, American Writer & Political Commentator

  • “Sports is human life in microcosm.” – Howard Cosell, Famous Sports Broadcaster


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