Sport Psychology Quotes

Quotes can be helpful in illustrating the importance of psychological factors in sports performance. They can be useful in illustrating concepts and can form a useful part of sport psychologists' consulting process. They can also be useful in illustrating the psychological quirks of many of our top sports stars! Below are some of our favourites.

“When Andy gets mad his game really suffers, so it was important not to get involved.  If he stays calm and focused and keeps on doing what he is doing, good things will happen.”

Brad Gilbert (coach) talking about Andy Roddick (Ronald Atkin, The Independent on Sunday, 29th June, 2003)

“Singles is sometimes so much about winning that the joy can get lost.  It can only be a relief if you win.  When you have a close match you get really into it as that’s what it’s all about. If you lose three and three then that’s not much fun, if you win three and two then you think its easier than you thought it would be.  But when you get to 7-5 in the third that’s when the chips are down and it’s real fun.  I think all these players like that and hope they can enjoy themselves today.”  

Martina Navratilova (The Guardian, 1st July, 2003)

“Eliminate all negative thoughts until they don’t exist”.

Marvin Hagler (The Guardian 8th November, 2003).

“To try to dilute some of this heavy emphasis on perfection, Harrington has even started chatting to sports psychologists.  Apparently, Bob Rotella, the current guru of choice in the United States, considered his client’s plight for a while and then advised Harrington to ‘live in the moment’. This old chestnut came as something of a revelation to a player who often sets up residence in the immediate past and what went wrong.” 

Bill Elliott writing about Padraig Harrington in the Observer (4th April, 2004 p. 8)

“Jack rarely trusted the food at grounds, especially on tour, and his lunch on match days consisted of two Weetabix, which had to be soaked in milk eight minutes before he came off the field.  He could tell when they had been in for only five minutes and on these occasions the 12th man was in for a rollocking.  He would also use the same tea bag for the 20 or so cuppas he would drink during a test match.”

Angus Fraser talking about Jack Russell (The Independent, 23rd June, 2004, p. 48)

“Maybe it’s lame of me (and maybe it’s part of what drives me), but I’ve never thought, at any level I’ve ever played, that my opponent was just better.  If I lost, there was always a reason (they were bigger, they were from California, etc.) (p.24)

John McEnroe (Taken from ‘Serious’ by John McEnroe and James Kaplan, 2002.  London, UK: Little, Brown.)

“England won the World Cup because they were mentally tougher than any other side.  That sort of mental toughness is born out of experience, both of winning competitions and of losing.  It was by losing Grand Slam games, by losing every now and then at the final hurdle despite the fact that people are calling you the best team in the world, and going through those lows together that England built up that experience.  When you get to that stage again you know what you have to do not to slip up.

Josh Lewsey (The Independent, 24th November, 2004, p.46).

“However much the supporters are hurting, we are hurting just as much when we lose.  You are as frustrated as anyone and you take it more personally than anyone.  It’s just a horrible experience ... when you get back home, you don’t want to go out anywhere.  You just want to stay in.  Your missus is saying ‘come on, let’s go out,’ but you just don’t want to leave your front door.  That’s what it’s like being a Wales rugby player after a defeat.  You don’t want to go to the supermarket, you don’t want to see anyone because you just end up having to explain yourself a thousand times over, trying to explain what went wrong. It’s a tough time.” (pp. 7-8).

Martyn Williams (Taken from ‘The Magnificent Seven’ by Martyn Williams and Simon Thomas, 2008.  London, UK: John Blake Publishing Ltd)

“I’d defy any leader in a major competition to switch off.  After the one-dayers I was struggling because I just didn’t know how to relax.  I was really tired but I had some one-to-one sessions with a sports psychologist called Karl Morris and he helped me work on some techniques when I needed a rest.” 

Michael Vaughan talking about the Ashes series in 2005 (The Guardian - Sport, 18th October, 2005, p. 6).

“I don’t visualise because my creative mind is too wide.  What I do is feel the shot”

Tiger woods talking to David Owen (The Observer Sport Monthly, November 2006, p. 26)

“You know the biggest and most important thing in playing a golf shot is committing 100 per cent to your decision.  Commitment in terms of the stroke, your emotion and your feel.  Sometimes that level of commitment needs verbal affirmation.  It is what gives you the bottle to ignore the little voice saying, ‘This can go wrong and that can go wrong’.”

Nick Faldo talking to Matthew Syed (The Times – 16th July, 2008, p.66).

“I was looking across at her and she couldn’t make eye contact with me.  I was trying to put over the image of someone who felt totally in control and relaxed. I was looking at her, but she was looking as though she thought it was all over. It was quiet comforting for me. I felt: ‘This is mine. She’s given up. She’s settled for second already’.”

Victoria Pendleton talking about facing China’s Shuang Guo at the 2007 world sprint final (The Independent, Olympic Supplement, July 2008, p.16).

“Literally as soon as I could walk, I had the ball at my feet ... It didn’t really matter what sort of ball it was – plastic, a tennis ball, anything I could kick around. Sometimes, I would even take the ball to bed with me.” (p.17)

George Best (Taken from ‘Blessed’ by George Best and Roy Collins, 2001.  London, UK: Random House)

"One of the big differences between pros and amateurs is how they react to a bad shot. A pro will do his best to forget about it and move on. your average amateur will still be cussing himself out three holes later" (p. 257). 

John Daly. In Daly, J., & Waggoner, G. (2007). My life in and out of the rough. London, UK: Harper Collins.

“I’m quite composed and a bit internal.  You need to be over such a long competition, because it will all go downhill if you let your frustration take over.  You have to control your emotions and get on with it. In heptathlon you are competing against yourself most of the time, which makes you think differently.  We’re not like the sprinters, strutting around trying to impose ourselves on the others, we’re motivated by the event.  You have to conquer your own nerves, run your own race, do your own competition because you’re running and jumping for points.  It only really becomes really competitive against everyone else in the 800m [final event] when the medals are at stake and you have to watch what other people are doing.” 

Jessica Ennis talking to Andrew Longmore (The Sunday Times, Sport, 9th August, 2009, p. 19).

“If you want to be a player of influence then what you do has to reflect in the players around you.  If you hide, the other will hide.  If you’re having a go, they’ll have a go.”

Sir Bobby Charlton talking to Paul Hayward (The Observer, Sport, 11th January, 2009, p.11).