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15 Quotes About Losing From Famous Athletes

We’ve all felt the sting of losing at some point in our lives, and for those who engage in competitive sports, the experience may be all too familiar. But many athletes also come to see their losses as fertile ground for improvement, and opportunities to develop resilience.

Losing is normal. Whether it's professional athletics, the Olympics, or Little League, it’s impossible to participate in sports without experiencing some losses. And, losing generally isn’t fun. “It’s important to allow yourself to feel in that moment… But after you get your ugly cries out in the shower, there’s always another game,” soccer great Megan Rapinoe once said.

To prepare for that next upcoming game, many athletes recommend treating a loss as a learning experience. A defeat can reveal areas for potential growth, both physically and emotionally. Basketball star Steph Curry has said he actually finds losing to be “a more motivating feeling” than winning.

Some athletes also remind us that playing the game is about more than winning or losing; it’s about giving your all and enjoying your chosen sport. Learning from coaches, camaraderie with teammates, and respect for opponents are all valuable parts of athletics that don’t necessarily depend on the score.

The most resounding message from veteran athletes and coaches in regard to losing is this: Don’t give up. Give yourself another chance, and then another, and another. Hard work, self-belief, and perseverance lead to progress — and success. The next time you find yourself on the losing side, these 15 quotes may help you to view the experience in a more hopeful light.

I’ve observed that if individuals who prevail in a high competitive environment have any one thing in common besides success, it is failure — and their ability to overcome it.
Bill Walsh, college and NFL football coach

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
Michael Jordan

The only way to prove you are a good sport is to lose.
Ernie Banks, MLB player

The game of basketball is one of the greatest teachers of life there is. It teaches you first and foremost to believe in yourself. You must develop physical and mental toughness in order to succeed because there's going to be many disappointments and setbacks along the way.
Tom Crean, college basketball coach

Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.
Matt Biondi, Olympic swimmer

Like everyone else you want to learn the way to win. But never to accept the way to lose. To accept defeat… is to be liberated from it. Once you accept, you are free to flow and to harmonize.
Bruce Lee, martial artist and actor

Everybody thinks a champion has to always be the winner, come out on top. But I think everybody inside is a champion themselves depending on how you handle your failures and your successes.
Simone Biles, Olympic gymnast

You have no choices about how you lose, but you do have a choice about how you come back and prepare to win again.
Pat Riley, basketball coach

If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.
John Wooden, college basketball coach

Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.
Doug Williams, NFL quarterback and college football coach

If you miss a shot, you missed it. You can’t go back. You can only try to not make the same mistake twice. I’ve won a lot in my career, and I’ve lost a lot. You take the good with the bad. Also, it’s not only about winning. It’s about the process and the journey, the people you’re with, continuing to grow and learn, and getting better every day.
Megan Rapinoe, U.S. soccer player

Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.
Bear Bryant, college football player and coach

I've done it before. It won't be the last time. You're going to go years where you just don't win. That's OK, as long as you keep trying to improve.
Tiger Woods, golfer

We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.
Vince Lombardi, NFL coach and executive

If you have a chance and don’t make the most of it, you are wasting your time on this earth. It is not what you do in baseball or sports, but how hard you try. Win or lose, I try my best.
Roberto Clemente, MLB player

Photo credit: Matheus Bertelli/ Pexels

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About the Author
Julia Travers
Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher.
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