Some consider the notion of sports coaches as motivational figures in society to be somewhat silly. After all, even at the professional level, a sport is just a game. At the same time, however, many who have played sports at one point or another will tell you that coaches do far more than set lineups and draw up the “x’s and o’s” associated with the game at hand.
They inspire and mold character, and the great ones are often great because they do these things particularly well, rather than because they happen to be brilliant tacticians.
What this also means is that some of the great coaches from sports history can have an impact on the public at large, from a motivational and positivity standpoint.
As simple as any quote really is when you break it down, sometimes the right combination of words from someone who’s made them work is just the thing to motivate you and keep you upbeat in times of struggle. So without further ado, here’s our look at five such quotes from some of the best coaches in sporting history.
John Wooden – College Basketball
”If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
John Wooden is considered to be one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport. This is in part because of his unrivaled record of success as the head men’s basketball coach at UCLA, but also due to his enduring wisdom.
The so-called “Wizard of Westwood” had a way with words that went beyond sports clichés, as exemplified by this quote. It’s a simple reminder to all of us that it’s okay to fail, and that indeed no one ever got anywhere without doing so. Not a bad saying to have in mind for when you need a bit of a boost.
Sir Alex Ferguson – Professional Soccer
”The experience of defeat, or more particularly the manner in which a leader reacts to it, is an essential part of what makes a winner.”
Here we actually have a similar quote to that given by Wooden, at least insofar as what message it’s conveying. Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the most renowned soccer coaches in history, having coached Manchester United for nearly 30 years and through several memorable seasons.
And it’s by understanding his career that you truly grasp the wisdom of the quote. Suffice it to say that for one of the winningest soccer managers in history to so openly recognize the value of losing should make us all think twice about how we deal with failure, and how we can use it to better ourselves.
Nick Saban – College Football
”You can’t get from A to Z by passing up B.”
Nick Saban has seen success at multiple levels of football and at different schools. He will go down, however, as a legendary head coach at Alabama University, where he’s won five national championships, and where the college football betting outlook for the current season sees him winning another.
Saban has a way of sounding whip-smart without too much pretty phrasing, and it’s quotes like this one that have given him that reputation. In the simplest terms possible, it’s a sharp reminder that cutting corners gets us nowhere, and that the slog of going through a process can be worth it at the goal.
Mike Krzyzewski – College Basketball
”I think you’re not a human being unless you have doubts and fears.”
Mike Krzyzewski is perhaps the only man on John Wooden’s level as a college basketball coach, though Krzyzewski has also had immense success at the Olympic level. For that matter, some are suggesting his current college team could actually resemble some of his Olympic ones.
Whatever the case, he has always been viewed not just as a tactician but as a leader of men, which is one reason much of his wisdom transcends sport. In this particular quote, Krzyzewski conveys that even in his own powerful position he can have doubts and fears, and that none of us should ever feel ashamed of the same.
Joe Torre – Professional Baseball
”Unless you have bad times, you can’t appreciate the good times.”
Joe Torre was never one for colorful language or even too much language at all, but as one of the most successful baseball managers of all time, he still managed to provide some clever and meaningful phrases over years.
This was one of them, and while it’s perhaps the most generic quote on this list, it’s another one that carries weight because of who it comes from. Torre won enough, particularly during his time with the New York Yankees, that he might have stopped getting much out of it. However, his sense of perspective allowed him to see the big picture in a way we should all aspire to imitate.