QuotesBy Dr. James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, which means that Coach's Clipboard receives a small commission (at no cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.Below I have listed and categorized a number of motivational and humorous quotes that you may have seen on the website.
Quotes from John Wooden
John Wooden is the only coach to be inducted in the Hall of Fame as a player and a coach. At UCLA, he won more National Championships than any other coach in the history of the game. He is also a common-sense philosopher and below are just some of his quotes. I would advise you to get a copy of the book "Wooden".
- "What you are as a person is far more important than what
you are as a basketball player." - John Wooden
- "Nothing will work unless you do." - John Wooden
- "Failure to prepare is preparing to fail." - John
- "Be quick, but never hurry." - John
- "On perfection - A good garden may have some weeds." -
- "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." -
- "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can
do." - John Wooden
- "Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's
courage that counts." - John R. Wooden
- "It's what you learn after you know it all that
counts." - John Wooden
- "Happiness is the journey not the destination." - John
- "Happiness begins where selfishness ends." - John
- "A coach must never forget that he is a leader and not merely a person with authority." – John Wooden
- "The two hardest things to handle in life are failure and
success." - John Wooden
- "One of the highest compliments you can be paid is that you are a person of your word." - John Wooden
- "My philosophy of defense is to keep the pressure on an opponent until you get to his emotions." - John Wooden
- "Success is a peace of mind which is a direct result of knowing that you did your best to become what you are capable of becoming." - John Wooden
- "Confidence comes from being prepared." - John Wooden
- "A team should be an extension of a coach's personality. My teams are arrogant and obnoxious." - Al McGuire
- "Defense is all about helping. No one can guard a good dribbler, You have to walk kids through how to help and then how to help the helper." - Bob Knight
- "Defense is not a game of hands; it’s a game of feet. Your feet have to dominate on defense. Your hands put the other team on the free throw line." - Bob Knight
- "Defense is one man guarding the ball and four others helping him." - Mike Krzyzewski
- "Offense is not equal opportunity." – Bob Knight
- "We do not have an offense that involves patterns. I do not believe in teaching plays, I believe in teaching our kids how to make plays." – Bob Knight
- "Good basketball always starts with good defense." – Bob Knight
- "The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot." – Bill Russell
- "If you are a good team, your offense is born on the defensive end." - Don Meyer
- "In practice, don’t just run basketball drills, teach the players how to play basketball." - Don Meyer
- "A bad day coaching basketball is better than a good day doing almost anything else." - Bob Hurley
- "Winning is more related to good defense than good offense" - Jack Ramsay
- "In all the research you do as a coach, studying other coaches and championship-type situations, you find that all those teams combined talent with great defense. You've got to stop other teams to win." - Pat Riley
- "As coaches we talk about two things: offense and defense. There is a third phase we neglect, which is more important. It's conversion from offense to defense and defense to offense." - Bobby Knight
- "Good defensive play is as much a matter of hustle, desire and pride as it is anything else." - Tex Winter
- "If you're not talking, you're not playing defense" - Doc Rivers
- "A good practice is one where the players talk (on defense) and the coaches don't have to." - Dr. James Gels, Coach's Clipboard
- "Defense doesn't break down on the help, it breaks down on the recovery." - Chuck Daly
- "Basketball is like war in that offensive weapons are developed first, and it always takes a while for the defense to catch up." - Red Auerbach
- "Discipline is the greatest form of love you can show someone. Great players crave discipline." - Tom Izzo
- "Players play, tough players win." - Tom Izzo
- "We want men here, not just players. Players are a dime a dozen." - Tom Izzo
- "I played hard every day in practice; so playing hard in a game was just a habit" - Michael Jordan
- "A couple things that should be consistent all the time are (1) defense, and (2) taking care of the basketball." - Hubert Davis
- "You miss 100% of the shots that you don't
- "The image of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat,to the point of exhaustion--when no one else is watching."
- "The only important shot you take is the next one."
- "Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting." -
- "Winning is about having the whole team on the same
page." - Bill Walton
- "It doesn't matter who scores the points, it's who
can get the ball to the scorer." - Larry Bird
- "We must be optimistic. No matter how devastating the previous day, we must be tremendously resilient and come back the next day with a plan to improve." - Dick Bennett
- "Play tough, play smart, and compete for 32 minutes."
- "The best man defense looks like a zone and the best zone
defense looks like a man."
- "If you want to be a head coach, first be a great assistant coach."
- Rick Carlisle
- "Desire outweighs footwork when it comes to crashing the glass." - Bill Self
- "Offense sells tickets, defense wins games, rebounding wins championships." — Pat Summitt
- "A player's ability to rebound is inversely proportional to the distance between where he was born and the nearest railroad tracks. The greater distance you live from the poor side of the railroad tracks, the less likely that you will be a good rebounder." - Pete Carril
- "Bad shooters are always open." – Pete Carril
- "The two ingredients for success in basketball are playing hard and playing intelligently." - Pete Carril
- "Coaching is preparation." - Pete Carril
- "I believe the objective of coaching is winning with integrity." - Pete Carril
- "Defense is not a variable. It's a constant. Defense has to be deeply embedded in your attitude." - Pete Carril
- "I don't recruit players who are nasty to their parents. I look for players who realize the world doesn't revolve around them." - Pete Carril
- "I would never recruit a player who yells at his teammates, disrespected his high school coach, or scores 33 points a game and his team goes 10-10." - Dean Smith
- "Coaches win practices, players win games." - Pete Carril
- "In a team sport like basketball, every time you help somebody else, you help yourself." - Pete Carril
- "To be a good coach you have to be hard of hearing." - Chuck Daly
- "It's not who starts the game, but who can finish it." – Dr. Jim Gels, Coach's Clipboard
- "Winning is overemphasized. The only time it is really
important is in surgery and war." - Al McGuire
- "You never realize the value of coaching until your children play for a coach." – Don Meyer
- "You have to earn your right to win the game with effort and togetherness." – Brad Stevens
- "If you pay attention to the grandstands...it won't be
long before you join them."
- "First master the fundamentals." - Larry Bird
- "I don't discuss basketball. I dictate basketball. I'm not interested in philosophy classes." - Al McGuire
- "Don't let basketball become your mistress." - Al McGuire
- "Players are made in the off season, teams are made during
- "Bad shots will beat you faster than anything else" - Rick Majerus
- "It comes a time when WINTER asks you what you did in the
- "It's a profession in which, the longer you stay, the closer you are to being fired." - Al McGuire
- "Great effort springs naturally from great attitude." -
- "It takes no talent to hustle." - Hans Schmidt
- "Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity
to play. It is as simple as that. I love that opportunity."
- "The best teams have chemistry. They communicate with each
other and they sacrifice personal glory for the common
goal." - Dave DeBusschere
- "A person really doesn't become whole, until he
becomes a part of something that's bigger than
himself." - Jim Valvano
- "I'm still waiting for perfection. In the meantime, I'll settle for persistence." - Bo Ryan
- "Shot fakes and ball fakes work... it's amazing how many people don't use them." - Bo Ryan
- "Fake a pass to make a pass, fake a cut to make a cut."
- "The more things you can do, the harder you are to keep out of the lineup."
- "Expect to get hit hard when you take the ball to the basket. Don’t get upset. The best revenge is making the free throws."
- "If you want to be in the game, you better shoot 75% from the line." - Pat Summitt
- "The ultimate goal of discipline is to teach self discipline." - Pat Summitt
- "Teamwork doesn’t come naturally. It must be taught." - Pat Summitt
- "I don't hire good coaches, I hire good people. If they turn out to be good coaches, too, that's a plus." - Geno Auriemma
- "Individual commitment to a group effort. That´s what
makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization
work." - Vince Lombardi
- "POST PLAY: 1. Play low - 2. Play wide - 3. Hands up - 4.
- "Play hard, play smart, play together, have fun." -
- "The most important thing in basketball: BE A
- "Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you
can do for your teammates." - Magic Johnson
- "Don't ever underestimate the heart of a
Having parent problems? Remember - "The ideal team to coach
has 12 excellent athletes... all orphans."
- "Everybody knows how to boil water and coach
- "I don't mind starting the season with a bunch of
unknowns. I just don't want to finish the season with a bunch
- "When you lose, don't lose the lesson." - the Dalai Lama
- "A winner never quits, a quitter never wins."
- "Most games are lost, not won." - Casey Stengel
- "If you make every game a life-and-death thing, you're
going to have problems. You'll be dead a lot." - Dean
- "I always mean what I say, but I don’t always say what I’m thinking." - Dean Smith
- "When time is running out and the score is close, most players are thinking, I don’t want to be the one to lose the game, but I’m thinking, What do I have to do to win?" - Jerry West
- "Evidence is conclusive that your self-talk has a direct bearing on your performance." - Zig Ziglar
When legendary University of Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp
called Al McGuire 'son' during the 1968-69 NCAA tournament, the young upstart McGuire shot back:
"Don't call me son unless you're going to include me in your will."
- "I hate it. It looks like a stickup at 7-Eleven. Five guys
standing there with their hands in the air." ~ Norm Sloan,
on zone defense
- "Basketball is not played simply with X’s and
O’s. It’s played with both trust and
confidence." - Isiah Thomas
- "One day of practice is like one day of clean living. It
doesn't do you any good." ~ Abe Lemmons
- "The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in
Motivational - inspirational quotes
- "A person always doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example."
- Joe DiMaggio
- "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." - Babe Ruth
- "The wishbone will never replace the backbone." - Will Henry
- "The harder I work the luckier I get."
- "What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the
fight... it's the size of the fight in the dog." -
- "Don't give up, don't ever give up." - Jim
- "If what you have done yesterday still looks big to you. You
haven't done much today." - Mike Krzyzewski
- "When I grew up, I woke up every day and my mom was there. I took it for granted. She's never tired – or she never showed it. Be as tough as your mothers. They show up all the time." - Mike Krzyzewski
- "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." -
Henry David Thoreau
- "Be strong in body, clean in mind, lofty in ideals." -
Dr. James Naismith, the father of basketball
- "It is amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares
about who gets the credit." - Robert Yates, owner of Dale
Jarrett's racing team
- "The person who has the most to do with what happens to you, is you." - Dr. Ben Carson
- "A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships were built for." - Grace Hopper
- "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." - Colin Powell
- "Life is like a 10-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use." - Charles Schulz
- "Education is of no value and talent is worthless – unless you have an unwavering aim. Never find yourself without a compass." - Condoleezza Rice
- "Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." - Thomas Jefferson
- "Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer
- "Making a positive change in the life of a child is one of the most significant things you can do." - Arnold Palmer
- "If you can’t outplay them, outwork them." - Ben Hogan
- "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." - Winston Churchill
- "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how
to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."
- "The worst thing you can do for someone is something that
they could and should do for themselves." - Abraham
- "When the going gets tough, the tough gets going." -
- "When nothing goes right... go left."
- "One of hardest decisions you'll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder."
- "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an
act, but a habit." - Aristotle
- "It's not what you achieve, it's what you
- "Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you’re donating blood." - Bill Murray
- "Always behave like a duck--keep calm and unruffled on the
surface but paddle like the devil underneath."
- "Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill." - Muhammad Ali
- "It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe." - Muhammad Ali
- "Don't count the days; make the days count." - Muhammad Ali
- "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." - Muhammad Ali
- "If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you." - Muhammad Ali
- "Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong." - Muhammad Ali
- "If you surround yourself with clowns, don't be surprised if your life becomes a circus."
- "Don't tell other people about your problems. 90% won't care and the other 10% are glad you've got 'em. " - Lou Holtz
- "It always amazes me that spectators want to coach, coaches want to officiate, and officials just want to watch the game." - Lou Holtz
- "I make my practices real hard because if a player is a quitter, I want him to quit in practice, not in a game." – Bear Bryant / Alabama
- "There’s no substitute for guts." - Paul Bear Bryant
- "There's a lot of blood, sweat, and guts between dreams and success." - Paul Bear Bryant
- "You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can
rejoice because thorns have roses."
- "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."
- "Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad and I show you a
guy you can beat every time." - Lou Brock
- "Don't wallow in the mud with pigs. You'll get dirty
and the pigs will like it."
- "The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are
right sometimes." - Winston Churchill
- "Just because you are well spoken doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about."
- "If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the
rain." - Dolly Parton
- "If you don't climb the mountain, you can't see the
- "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among
the stars." - Les Brown
- "Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the
happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it." -
- "If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the
- "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the
kitchen." - Harry S. Truman
- "If it was easy, everyone could do it." - Jimmy Dugan
(Tom Hanks) in a League of Our Own
- "The mind grows by what it feeds on." - J. G.
- "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can
do for your country." - John F. Kennedy
- "Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and
direction." - John F. Kennedy
- "Leaders are like eagles - they don't flock. You find
them one at a time." - Knute Rockne
- "The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer everybody
else up." - Mark Twain
- It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently." - Warren Buffett
- Chinese proverb "Dig the well before you are thirsty."
- "Well done is better than well said." - Benjamin Franklin
- "We must all hang together, else we shall hang
seperately." - Benjamin Franklin on signing the Declaration
- "If at first you don't succeed, you are like most
people." - M. H. Alderson
- "He who stops being better stops being good." - Oliver
- "Some of us are like wheelbarrows - only useful when pushed
and very easily upset." - Jack Herbert
- "Adversity causes some men to break; others to break
records." - William A. Ward
- "The shortest distance between two points is always under
construction." - Noelie Alito
- "Please all, and you will please none." (Aesop)
- "Be sure you are right, then go ahead." - Davey
- "Often it's not the problem, but your attitude about the problem."
- "It takes as much courage to have tried and failed as it
does to have tried and succeeded." - Anne Morrow
- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried
anything new." - Albert Einstein
- "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to
succeed." - Theodore Roosevelt
- "No one knows what he can do until he tries." -
- "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." -
- "You only live once - but if you work it right, once is
enough." - Joe E. Lewis
- "I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to
enjoy it." - Rita Mae Brown
- "Your future depends on many things, but mostly on
you." - Frank Tyger
- "The best things in life aren’t things." - Art
- "No one can make you feel inferior without your
consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt
- "One who makes no mistakes never makes anything."
- "One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory." - Rita
- "Love may not make the world go round, but I must admit that
it makes the ride worthwhile." - Sean Connery
- "When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade." - Dale
- "A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the
world walks out."
- "A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked." - Bernard Meltzer
- "Great minds have purposes. Little minds have wishes."
- Washington Irving
- "Nothing is as good as it seems and nothing is as bad, but
somewhere between reality falls." - Lou Holtz
- "All battles are won before they are fought." - Sun
- "I never wanted to be famous, I just wanted to be
great." - Ray Charles
- "The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his
tail instead of his tongue." - Anonymous
- "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The
world owes you nothing. It was here first." - Mark Twain
- "Some people always want the front of the bus, the back of
the church, and the center of attention."
- "I'm not allowed to comment on lousy officiating."
- Jim Finks, New Orleans GM when asked after a loss what he
thought of the refs
- "I told him, 'son, what is it with you, ignorance or
apathy?' He said 'Coach, I don't know and I don't
care.'" - Frank Layden, Utah Jazz president on a former
- "He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings." -
Tommie Polk, University of Houston receiver, on his coach, John
- "Son, looks to me like you're spending too much time on
one subject." - Coach Shelby Metcalf, speaking about a
player who received 4 F's and a D one semester
- "We have a great bunch of outside shooters. Unfortunately,
all of our games are played indoors." - Weldon Drew
- "I could have been a Rhodes Scholar except for my grades." - Duffy Daugherty / Michigan State
- "The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it." - Lou Holtz
- "There are really only two plays... Romeo and Juliet, and put the darn ball in the basket." - Abe Lemons
- "If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base." - Dave Barry
Mother: "Shut up and eat your dinner."
Mother: "If you are going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."
- "I'm not overweight, I'm just nine inches too
short." - Shelley Winters
- "I don't need anger management... I just need people to quit pissing me off."
- "I don't know, but I stepped on a scale that gives
fortunes and the card read 'Come back in 15 minutes
- "Every teenager should stay in school and get a high school
education and diploma, even if they already know
- "How should we Democrats select the next presidential
nominee? Smoke-filled rooms? Brokered convention? National
primary? Personally, I prefer jump shots from the top of the
key." - Senator Bill Bradley, prior to the 1988 Presidential
- "We can't win at home. We can't win on the road. As
general manager, I just can't figure out where else to
play." - Orlando Magic GM Pat Williams when struggling
through a tough season.
to beat a much stronger opponent: Score first and hit the fire
- "Just think, if it weren't for marriage, men would go
through life thinking they had no faults at all."
- "Until I was thirteen, I thought my name was 'shut
up.'" - Joe Namath
- "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken s--t."
- "The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and
a good ending and having the two as close together as
possible." - George Burns
- "Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in
- "The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets
- "My wife told me the car wasn't running well because
there was water in the carburetor. I asked where the car was, she
told me, 'In the Lake.'" - Red Skelton
- "The last fight was my fault. My wife asked,'What's
on the TV?' I said, 'Dust!'" - Red Skelton
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- "As long as there are exams, there will be prayer in public
Yogi Berra was a great catcher and Hall of Famer for the new York Yankees back in the 50's and 60's. He is now noted for his many unusal, simplistic quotes. There's even one from his son Dale... showing that the "apple doesn't fall too far from the tree"!
- "Never answer an anonymous letter." - Yogi Berra
- "It's deja vu all over again." - Yogi Berra
- "When you come to a fork in the road....Take it." - Yogi Berra
- "I usually take a two hour nap from one to four." - Yogi Berra
- "You got to be careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." - Yogi Berra
- "You can observe a lot by watching." - Yogi Berra
- "If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be." - Yogi
- "If the people don't want to come out to the ballpark,
nobody's going to stop them." - Yogi Berra, when
managing the losing Mets.
- "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore." - Yogi Berra
- "overwhelming underdogs " - Yogi's description of
the 1969 NY Mets.
- "The future ain't what it used to be." - Yogi
- "(On a West Coast trip): It gets late early out here."
- Yogi Berra
- "If you can't imitate him, don't copy him." -
- "I'd find the fellow who lost it, and if he was poor,
I'd return it." - Yogi Berra, answering Casey
Stengel's question, "What would you do if you found a
- "Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets." -
- "Nobody goes there anymore... it's too crowded." - Yogi
- "I didn't really say everything I said." - Yogi
- "The similarities between me and my father are
different." - Dale Berra, Yogi Berra's son
- "What happens if you get scared half to death
- "If the mailman stopped to worry about every barking dog,
he'd never get the mail delivered."
- "If carrots are so good for the eyes, how come I see so many
dead rabbits on the road?"
- "I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without
- "Just because you don't think your paranoid, doesn't
mean they aren't really after you."
- "If it comes true and really happens, you weren't
- "All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no
attention to criticism."
- "How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but
it takes a whole box to start a campfire?"
Quotes from humorist Will Rogers
Will Rogers (1879-1935) was a noted American cowboy and humorist, as well as an author, philosopher, motion picture actor, and a trick roper.
- "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over
if you just sit there." - Will Rogers
- "The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over
and put it back in your pocket." - Will Rogers
- "Don't squat with your spurs on." - Will Rogers
- "Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier
'n puttin' it back in." - Will Rogers
- "If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look
back every now and then to make sure it's still there."
- Will Rogers
- "If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is
stop diggin'." - Will Rogers
- "Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco." - Will
- "Never kick a cow chip on a hot day." - Will Rogers
- "Never miss a good chance to shut up."- Will Rogers
- "Always drink upstream from the herd." - Will
- "There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by
reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have
to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves." -
Did he really say that?!
- "Half this game is ninety percent mental." -
Philadelphia Phillies manager Danny Ozark
- "The word 'genius' isn't applicable in football.
A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein." - Joe Theisman, NFL
quarterback & sports analyst.
- "We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees."
- Jason Kidd, when drafted by the Dallas Mavericks
- "I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and
father." - Greg Norman, Pro Golfer
- "Sure there have been injuries and even some deaths in
boxing - but none of them really that serious." - a ringside
- "If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the
same thing again." - a baseball announcer
- "It isn't pollution that's harming the environment.
It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing
it." - Al Gore
- "I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix."
- Dan Quayle
- "It is wonderful to be here in the great state of
Chicago." - Dan Quayle
About getting old
On turning 70..."I still chase women, but only downhill." - Bob Hope
On turning 90... "You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake." - Bob Hope
- "Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in
life." - Herbert Henry Asquith
- "The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in
- "One of the many things no one tells you about getting old
is that it is such a nice change from being young."
- "One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has
- "Being young is beautiful, but being old is
- "We all get heavier as we get older because there’s a
lot more information in our heads. Our heads weigh more." -
- "When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to your
youth, remember Algebra."
- "You know you are getting old when everything either dries
up or leaks."
- "I don't know how I got over the hill without getting to
- "I intend to live forever - so far, so good."