5 Fantastic Motivational Sporting Speeches

Motivational speeches have been a source of inspiration (and a catalyst for change) for almost as long as humans have existed.

From Alexander the Great, who encouraged his soldiers to stand up and continue fighting after a gruesome battle against the Paurava kingdom in 326 BC to George Washington’s infamous resignation speech in 1784, the use of one’s words and voice to inspire others has shaped history and greatly contributed to the world as we know it today.

In the world of sports, speeches are used to motivate and inspire players, acting as an impetus that drives them to perform at their best.

But motivational sporting speeches are not applicable to athletes alone. The themes that are shared in these speeches are universally relatable, making them relevant to individuals from all walks of life.

Whether it’s overcoming adversity, rising to the challenge or the importance of teamwork, sports players, coaches, and other athletic professionals have an abundance of wisdom to share.

Thus, in today’s blog, we’ll be sharing some of the best sports speeches and quotes from the past. We hope they inspire you as much as they inspire us!

1. Herb Brooks – 1980 Olympic Hockey Pre-Game Speech

Herbert Paul Brooks was a hockey player and coach from Minnesota. He is best known for coaching the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1980 to one of the greatest upsets in American sports history when they defeated the heavily favored Soviet Union at Lake Placid. The team was not expected to win since the Soviets had defeated the U.S. 10-3 in their final exhibition game at Madison Square Garden. But Brooks was not willing to go down without a fight, giving an extremely powerful speech before his players hit the ice — an address that many of his players credited for the team’s victory. The speech was so memorable and moving it was featured in the blockbuster film, Miracle, with Kurt Russell playing Brooks.

Below is a quote from Brooks’ motivational sports speech:

“Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that’s what you have here, tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here tonight. One game. If we played ’em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can! Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It’s over. I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw ’em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it.”

Click here to watch a clip from the movie Miracle, in which Kurt Russell reenacts this unforgettable moment.

2. Jim Valvano – 1993 ESPY Awards Speech

Many of the world’s most significant speeches came from a place of pain or hardship, and inspirational sports speeches are no different. Jim Valvano, coach of the North Carolina State University basketball team, gave such a speech at the Excellence in Sports Yearly Awards (ESPYs) in 1993 after he’d been diagnosed with a terminal type of glandular cancer. The speech was meant to encourage his audience to live their lives to the fullest and eventually went down in history as one of the most important inspirational coach speeches of all time.

Here is a quote from his lecture:

“There are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

You can watch the entire speech on YouTube here.

3. Billy Donovan – 2006 NCAA Championship Game

Billy Donovan was the Florida Gator’s men’s basketball team in 2006— a team that had struggled the year prior. Under Donovan’s guidance, however, they were able to reach the championship game. Before the game started, Donovan spoke to his players, delivering a forceful sermon about seizing the moment.

Below is a quote from his speech, which is considered by many to be one of the most inspirational sports speeches ever given:

“Tonight is not about the past and it’s not about the future. It’s about right now, and you guys have got to want this night to last forever.”

Watch the full clip of Billy Donovan’s pregame speech here.

4. LeBron James – 2018 AAU North Coast Blue Chips Speech

LeBron James is one of the greatest names in NBA history with three championships under his belt and three Olympic gold medals amongst a long list of other achievements. But one of James’ most memorable speeches actually occurred while he was attending his 13-year-old son’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) game in 2018. Before the game began, James took the opportunity to share one of his greatest lessons with the young players— that teamwork really does make the dream work. His words instantly became one of his most admired sports inspirational speeches.

Here is a quote from the address:

“Many Hall of Famer’s and some of the best players to ever play the game have come off the bench— or didn’t play. That don’t mean you aren’t good. There are guys in the NBA that don’t play. Does that mean they aren’t good? No. They are playing a role. If you don’t want a role, play tennis or play golf. Because then you can do whatever [expeletive] you want to do, and you’ve got no one else to blame because it’s an individual sport. But if you want to play a team sport, there’s going to be things you’ve got to give up to get what you want.”

You can watch the clip in its entirety here

5. Dave Belisle – 2014 Little League World Series Speech

Coaching a team is always a responsibility that mentors take seriously. But when you’re coaching 12-year-old boys, that responsibility becomes even more heartfelt and profound. Dave Belisle knows this first-hand as he was the coach of the Cumberland, Rhode Island team that lost their championship Little League game to Jackie Robinson West of Chicago, Illinois in 2014. Seeing the defeat on his young player’s faces, Belisle gathered his team for some final words, which eventually went down in history as one of the most touching motivational sporting speeches in baseball history.


“The only reason why I’m shedding a tear is because this is the last time I’m going to end up coaching you guys. I’m going to bring back with me, and the coaching staff is going to bring back with them, something that no one other team can provide but you guys. That’s pride. Pride.

You’re going to take that for the rest of your life, what you provided for our town in Cumberland. You had the whole place jumping. You had the whole state jumping. You had New England jumping. You had ESPN jumping. Want to know why? They like fighters. They like sportsmen. They like guys who don’t quit. They like guys who play the game the right way.

If everyone would play baseball like the Cumberland Americans, this would be the greatest game. When you walk around this ballpark in the next couple of days, they’re going to look at you and say, “Hey, guys, you guys were awesome.” 

Watch the entire clip on Youtube here.

Are you looking for athletes who can deliver motivational sporting speeches for your events? Sports Speakers 360 has thousands of athletes from which to choose. Call us today at 303-747-4087 or visit https://www.sportsspeakers360.com.

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