Slip in your headphones and click over to Youtube. Playing your favorite inspirational sports movie speeches you’ve seen a thousand times can keep you going during rough times. You could do it before that final, in the late-night hours when you’re ready to give up on studying. Or perhaps before a big game of your own—a moment when you really needed to dig into your depths and pull out the kind of grit that sets the winners apart from the losers. Need some motivational videos to keep you going?
Check out these 10 motivational speeches from the sports movies you grew up watching.
1. “Inch by Inch”—Any Given Sunday
“I know if I am going to have any life anymore it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch because that is what living is. The six inches in front of your face.”
In the last 18 years, this speech has been adapted to just about every sport. My team listened to it in silence the night before the last race of my high school rowing career, talk about a good pre-game speech. Then, in the final meters of that race, one of our team members screamed the words at us as we clawed for those inches past the other boat. I’ve never pushed my body so hard. Afterward, I closed that chapter of my life with satisfaction because I knew I gave it my all. We all play the game of inches to keep getting ahead in life. Whether you play football or need to get over an ex, we can strive for those tiny increments that measure our progression.
2. “Great Moments are Born from Great Opportunity”—Miracle
“One game. If we played ‘em 10 times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight.”
Even if you haven’t seen the movie, this movie gave us the classic, inspirational speech to have ever graced film. It may not involve a ton of screaming or cursing. It may not push you into that animalistic place that we call “the zone.” The speech doesn’t make use of the theatric elements that some of the other films do. “It’s brutally honest, but still inspiring,” Montgomery County Community College freshman Mark Fields said. “He tells them that the Soviets could win a majority of the games, but they won’t win the important ones because the American team worked hard and has something to play for…He pretty much says don’t hit the breaks—shock the world… [and] don’t waste the opportunity they worked so hard to get.” This inspirational speech speaks to you in a calm, determined way that just strikes a chord.
3. “I Don’t Care What the Scoreboard Says”—Hoosiers
“Forget about the crowds, the size of the school, their fancy uniforms, and remember what got you here.”
As college students, we’ve had enough life experience thus far to know that when we put in hard work, that doesn’t always lead to the W. Even if we give it our all, drifting to sleep atop our books in the library at 3 a.m., that doesn’t necessarily lead to the A. If you’re doing your best, isn’t that enough?
4. “Perfect”—Friday Night Lights
“To me, being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship to yourself and your family and your friends.”
Can you look your friends in the eye and know that you’re telling the truth? That you gave it your all? If you can do that with love in your heart, that’s perfection, according to Coach Gaines in this beloved movie. His speech in this scene incites a moment of honesty, friendship and love among his team members. If it doesn’t choke you up, I don’t know what will. You may think that perfection means being the 4.0 honors student involved in five clubs and a paid internship, but it’s not. Perfection comes in that moment when you recognize that you are working toward a goal with the most pure intentions possible. And when it happens in communion with other people? Beautiful.
5. “It Ain’t About How Hard You Hit”—Rocky Balboa
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.”
In this scene, the legendary Rocky Balboa gives his son a bit of a reality check by reminding him that life just isn’t fair. It’s just like boxing, and it doesn’t matter how hard you hit back, but how much you can take and keep moving forward. We all struggle, and most of us don’t talk about the truly difficult stuff we deal with at any given moment. So when finals hit with their hardest blows, don’t give up because you feel like your efforts to fight back don’t cut it. “He just says it with such confidence,” Boston College junior Daniel Dreiling said. “I think that’s what makes it so good.” Don’t succumb to the desperation. Take the blows and keep pushing.
6. Remember the Titans
“And you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together, right now, on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed—just like they were.”
This speech definitely puts things in perspective and absolutely applies to circumstances greater than football. We’ve all had disagreements and biases toward other people. Maybe your best friend told you something about another girl that made you think of her in a less-than-flattering light. We do things like that all the time. It doesn’t matter how you feel about another person. You give them respect—end of story. Without respect, we crumble.
7. “There’s No Crying in Baseball”—A League of Their Own
“Are you crying? Are you crying? Are you crying?! There’s no crying!”
This inspirational speech might not have some deep, insightful message that moves you to your core. But do you really need that when Tom Hanks yells the same phrase in hysterics over and over again? “There’s no crying in baseball!” Sometimes we just need a reminder to cut it out with the self-pity. In the middle of a game, or test or interview, you can’t just stop and sob. You get it together and get on with it. Thank you for the sound advice right there, Tom.
8. Coach Carter
“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”
The first few words of this speech should sound familiar. They were borrowed from a poem written by Marianne Williamson titled “Our Deepest Fear.” Perhaps our we don’t fear inadequacy. Have you ever even considered that, deep down, you really fear reaching the full potential of your power? Maybe we really do set ourselves up to “play small.” We should not be ashamed of confidence.
9. Gridiron Gang
“Now it’s time to see who has a heart.”
This movie might not make it into everyone’s top 10 sports movies, but it adds a message to the mix that hasn’t really been touched upon yet. At some point in your life, other people probably have—for whatever reason—made you feel like something less than a person. But you are somebody . Don’t forget that.
10. “Pride”—Cool Runnings
“Well you want to know what I see? I see pride! I see power! I see a bad-a** mother who don’t take no crap off nobody!”
We all get down on ourselves, especially in college, an insulated community that thrives off of competition and comparison. Your GPA or perceived social standing do not define you. You are special. You are awesome. This scene shows you how to own that, and if it requires some shouting in a mirror to get the message across, then hey, I say go for it.
10 More Inspirational Speeches to Get You Through College
Written by Lily Holmes
11. The Blind Side
“Are you gonna protect the family, Michael?”
If The Blind Side doesn’t top your list of favorite Sandra Bullock movies, watch this scene again and remember the girl boss character that is Lee Ann Tuohy. In this scene, main character Lee Ann reminds Michael Orr that his football team is his family, and that he needs to protect the family. Remember this scene when you need to be the mom of the group after a night out.
12. We are Marshall
“How you play today, from this moment on, is how you will be remembered. This is your opportunity to rise from these ashes and grab glory. We are…Marshall!”
Ah, another tear jerker, but nonetheless one of the best speeches by Matthew McConaughey’s character, Jack Lengyel. Duke sophomore Coleman Williams said, “The Thundering Herd show that even through adversity and times of struggle, a community can come together through football.” Remember this speech when the fans around you in the stands at your team’s game seem to give up.
13. Friday Night Lights
“Clear eyes, full Hearts, can’t lose”
If you didn’t shed a tear when Coach Taylor mentioned Jason Street getting paralyzed in the first game of the season, by the end of this halftime pep-talk, hearing “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” as the Dillon Panthers go on to win their state title should at least warm your heart. Wake Forest student Sarah Jane Miles said, “FNL is an amazing, real, heartwarming show that I couldn’t stop watching once I started. It doesn’t hurt having Tim Riggins to look at, either.” This speech should hype you up after you decide to stay in the night before a test despite peer pressure.
14. The Mighty Ducks
“Ducks fly together.”
In this Mighty Ducks halftime speech, Coach Bombay motivates a group of pre-teen ducklings who are down a few points by noting their character outweighs how they play. He says that to win, they need to be themselves. Following the corny speech, every player stands up to recite their hometown, bringing this misfit hockey team together under the USA logo. The same corniness happens when you finally solidify your college squad and decide to stick together through finals and syllabus week, through thick and thin, making this one of the best sports movies out there.
“In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself. And after what you’ve gone through, if you haven’t done that by now, it ain’t gonna never happen.”
In a dialogue between Rudy and Fortune, Rudy basically gets ripped to shreds for complaining he’s not good enough to start for Notre Dame. While, *spoiler alert,* Rudy eventually gets to play in a game, Fortune reminds him to stay humble and sit down (on the bench, literally). We could all use a little reality check like that every once and a while.
16. Rocky IV
“Going in one more round when you don’t think you can: that’s what makes all the difference in your life.”
In Rocky IV, a victorious Rocky impassions his Communist audience to change their ways after defeating his Soviet competition, and he single handedly saves democracy in doing so! Just kidding. Maybe he can prevent our next government shutdown too.
17. The Replacements
“Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory… lasts forever.”
Whether it’s the pain of a break up and moving on or the pain of losing the national championship to Alabama, watching The Replacements can heal you. In this “short and sweet” pep talk from Shane Falco, he opts for a brief rather than inspirational huddle. The pains we go through in college won’t last forever, but that degree will.
18. She’s the Man
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
While Channing Tatum borrowed these words from a president, he still brings the famous quote up to sports-motivation levels. After Viola’s big identity reveal and pre-game winning goal, Duke gives us a little monologue about how they can achieve greatness with a girl on their team. What a guy. “She’s the man is a classic soccer team sleepover movie,” UVA sophomore Courtney Peters said. “It’s funny, lighthearted, and full of moments that are both cringeworthy and hilarious.”
19. The Sandlot
“Everybody gets one chance to do something great.”
When Benny can’t psych himself up to face the Beast, we all felt for him. Our own Beasts scare us every day. When we get our one chance, a dream closet ghost of Babe Ruth should come to our minds too. Ghost Babe Ruth, how do I hit a home run in messaging this Tinder guy?
20. High School Musical
“You only have 16 minutes left in a Wildcats uniform, so make it count.”
The Wildcats make a habit of turning basketball into something that makes everyone want to jump into action with their catchy songs. But this speech right before the opening number of HSM 3 applies to more than the struggle between singing and sports. Remember this speech when you need to make your mark on campus before graduation.
** Updated on January 31, 2018 to include list items 11–20 by Lily Holmes.
10 More Inspirational Speeches from Your Favorite Sports Movies
Written by Jake Tammara
21. National Lampoon’s Van Wilder
Van Wilder is one of Ryan Reynold’s earlier movies in which he stars as an undergraduate college student in his seventh year. Reynold’s character Van gives a speech to his school’s basketball team. He encourages them to step up their defense by stating, “I want you all over that ball like a fat kid on a cupcake!”
“ I’ve seen Van Wilder at least two dozen times and I still laugh when I hear the cupcake line,” Rutgers University sophomore Andre Mirales said.
National Lampoon’s Van Wilder will surely leave the entire fraternity on the floor laughing.
22. Major League 2
In this comedy starring a young Charlie Sheen, the Cleveland Indians need to win more games if they want any chance to win the World Series. Their coach makes it clear to them that they’ll need a winning streak to hold any shot at the title. He then goes on to explain how to get on this winning streak they will need to win two more games. This 1994 sports film remains one that stands out as a film shot before most of Charlie Sheen’s many scandals.
23. The Program
A 1993 film about football, The Program portrays a more realistic and honest version of the game than most other movies. In the film, the ups and downs of a college football program make viewers understand the harsh reality of the sport. In a scene with the team and their coach Sam Winters, he assures his team they have what it takes to win it all, telling them, “We’re Gonna Ring the Bell.”
24. Poolhall Junkies
In this movie about billiards, Christopher Walken gives what’s known as “The Lion Speech” to Johnny, a contender in a pool competition. Reminding Johnny who the king of the jungle is, Walken’s character Uncle Mike gives the audience one of his most memorable performances. Poolhall Junkies may just inspire you to take up the sport yourself.
25. Field of Dreams
One of the most classic films about baseball, Field of Dreams tells the story about a small-town farm owner named Ray who turned his land into a baseball field. When financial struggles accrue, Ray is urged to sell the land in order to stay afloat.
“Everyone knows that Field of Dreams has some of the most memorable movie quotes: ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Purdue University alumnus Malcolm Haines said.
Longtime baseball fan and author Terrence Mann, played by James Earl Jones, convinces Ray to hold onto the field, ensuring everyone that “people will come.”
26. Little Giants
This 1994 film about a children’s football team features comedy genius Rick Moranis as the team’s head coach Danny O’Shea. When his underdog squad seems to be running out of confidence, he needs to come up with a plan. Coach O’Shea sits them all down in the locker room and tells them the story of how he never could beat his neighbors when they raced. He goes on to explain how eventually, he won… just one time. This speech turned out to be just enough to enhance his self-worth and in turn the teams’ as well.
27. Bull Durham
Another baseball movie, Bull Durham tells the tale of a minor league team and their new pitcher Nuke. Crash Davis, the team’s catcher, decides to take Nuke under his wing and show him the ropes of the minor leagues. In the middle of the film, the audience gets to hear Crash rant about what he believes the rules of baseball should be and boy, does he have a list.
28. Facing the Giants
Though the movie may be about a southern high school football team, Facing the Giants contains lessons that can resonate with students of all ages. In one scene, the team’s coach encourages his player to carry his teammate across the field on his back, telling him to do, “Your Very Best!” This iconic scene went viral for showing just how strong someone can be when they put their all into something.
29. The Wrestler
A film that contains everything from drama to action, The Wrestler provides something for every movie lovers’ taste. The story follows Randy “The Ram” Robinson, played by former boxer Mickey Rourke. In his final round, which he can foretell will be his last, shows appreciation to the fans that loved him since the beginning. The Wrestler may not sound like a dramatic film that could pull at the heart strings, but after watching the final speech in the film viewers will surely struggle to hold back their tears.
After walking in on his baseball team basically partying in the locker room after losing a game, Brad Pitt’s character Billy Beane completely loses his cool. Frustrated to say the least, Beane is not very pleased with his roster’s attitude towards competition.
“I’ve seen every Brad Pitt movie and Moneyball definitely has to be in his top 10, if not top five. Movies based on true stories always make for the best films in my opinion,” Stockton University senior Daniel Franco said.
As the general manager for the MLB team the Oakland Athletics, he feels ashamed to see his team having so much fun after a loss. He questions the men, curiously asking them,“Is losing fun?” leaving them silent and embarrassed by their actions.
** Updated on March 17, 2021 to include list items 21–30 by Jake Tammara.