From Film to Greek Mythology, Which Coaching Quote is Your Favourite?
We all pull inspiration from different places. Creative help, logical help, and emotional help all come from different sources. Some prefer talking things out with someone, whilst some prefer to reflect and redesign.
However you learn, whatever coaches you the best will be completely different to that of the next person. There is one thing all these sources have in common, however. They’re all coaches. Whether it’s a person who coaches you through, or a method of coaching yourself, it’s all coaching. And these coaching quotes have inspired thousands.
One influential human coach in my life was my former teacher, Gary. As much as I rather obviously disliked the man as a media teacher, as a person I found him particularly intriguing. Whether you liked Gary or not, he didn’t really care. One of the most important rules he taught me was ‘know thy self’. ‘No matter what’, he said, ‘know what makes you tick, what you like and why, what you don’t like and why’.
He told me that things become easier once you’ve got the measure of yourself. They did. Gary was one of the last people I’d expect to be influenced that heavily by. In this sense, he was a great coach.
The one thing me and Gary had in common, was films. We’re both massive geeks when it comes to film and that is why this article will focus predominantly on fictional coaches. Coaches that influenced not just their fellow characters, but a wider audience too.
Have a go at thinking of the movie character that influenced you the most, what did they say or do to make that happen? Have a look if that character is featured in these 10 coaching quotes.
10 Quotes From Famous Fictional Coaches
“Nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit. Its about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
– Rocky Balboa (Rocky Balboa)
The Rocky series is a must-watch for some great leadership and coaching quotes. This one in particular was chosen because, in a film about boxing, it’s actually not about the sport. This quote is said by Rocky to his son when talking about his life. While Rocky tries to coach his son and guide him in life, he spouts wisdom in this quote that was felt by many.
Rocky outlines here that life isn’t about displaying an act of power, or throwing the first metaphorical punch, it’s about being able to take that punch and heal. Here, he implies that winners work hard until they win and losers pretend they’ve won until they don’t.
This is a great piece of coaching because it teaches us that life is about fighting for what you want and what you believe in no matter the cost. And specifically, not letting anything or anyone get in your way.
“Takin’ on a challenge is a lot like ridin’ a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doin’ it, you’re probably doin’ it wrong.”
– Ted Lasso (Ted Lasso)
Ted Lasso is the main character in a recent series of the same name. His upbeat nature inspires many both in-story and audience. He tells one of his football team that they don’t need to feel comfortable to conquer a challenge. In fact, he says the opposite. This is the type of quote that can strike a chord with anyone.
You shouldn’t worry that you’re not finding things easy, a challenge is called a challenge for a reason. Often people forget, amongst all of life’s struggles, that some things will be difficult. Ted tells us that it’s alright to feel uncomfortable and find things hard. He says that that is actually the better way to feel, the way you should feel during a challenge. If everything was easy and comfortable, the triumph would not exist.
“First learn stand, then learn fly.”
– Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid)
The famous Mr. Miyagi. As a coach, Mr. Myiagi is one that does not openly share his wisdom. He uses it only when needed, only when a lesson needs to be taught. This is a great feature of this character because it simultaneously teaches ‘Daniel-san’ to trust his teacher. Daniel learns that it’s sometimes the most unexpected teacher that influences you more than anyone else.
Miyagi teaches Daniel a multitude of things during their time together as characters. Learning to walk before you can run, or rather stand before you can fly, is one of the most poignant coaching quotes from this film. It teaches us patience and self-belief.
Miyagi implies that we shouldn’t spend our energy beating ourselves up when we can’t run straight away. Valuable skills and challenge techniques are not acquired quickly and painlessly. Things must be learned overtime. It is better to spend the energy learning to walk first, and then bask in the glory when you can run. This is a brilliant quote that applies to all aspects of life.
“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because its trust is not on the branch, but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself.”
– Charlie Wardle (Understanding and building confidence)
Charlie Wardle is the influential author behind “Understanding and building confidence”. This quote captivates many elements of self-belief and confidence. This is the idea that, if you had belief in yourself, you would need not lean on external crutches.
A thought often provoked from this quote is: ‘What is my branch? And what are my wings?’.
Asking yourself this question is key to reaping the benefits of this quote. The power in Wardle’s words here is the analysis it forces us to make of our own lives. Once your wings and your branch are identified it is possible to discover the reason behind why they are what they are. This gives the opportunity to begin relying less on your branch and believing more in your wings.
“There is no nobility in being superior to your fellow man. True nobility lies in being superior to ones former self.”
– Harry Hart (Kingsman: The Secret Service)
Colin Firth’s gentlemen spy character in ‘Kingsman’ is full of wise one-liners in the film. This one in particular, however, is very poignant. Harry Hart mentors Eggsy in being a gentleman. He teaches him that one need not speak the Queen’s English and play croquet to be a gentleman. This quote solidifies Harry’s teachings on this subject simply by saying, a gentleman is simply a man at ease in his own skin.
The lesson here is: stop measuring and comparing yourself with others. Begin measuring yourself by yourself, and worry about this only. As long as you’re improving in your own life, nothing else matters. Sometimes, gaining the ability to truly be yourself means standing completely alone. Once comfortable with this, only then can you begin to prosper beyond the heights of your imagination.
“The greatest leaders are not necessarily the ones who do the greatest things. He is the one who gets the people to do the greatest things.”
– Ronald Reagan
Reagan is a wonderfully wise leader. He poses, here, the idea that the role of leadership or coaching is not to achieve highly yourself but to provide the tools for others to achieve highly.
Ronald Reagan was a coach, and he had a coach, who probably also had a coach.
This continuous chain of coaches and learners is what allows this concept to ring true. Due to Reagan having a great coach, he achieved great things. This then allowed him to be a great coach, and allow so many people to achieve greatness themselves.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not and act, but a habit.”
The great philosopher is famously known for this quote. An interesting one, at that. Excellence, in the minds of most, is a goal. Once reached, you are deemed ‘excellent’. This is, of course, not true. How many people do you know who have successfully reached this status? You’re probably thinking of a few people you know who drive fancy cars and live in big houses.
Whilst, yes they are successful, they must continue in this way. The belief that, once you’ve reached greatness that’s it, is not-so-obviously true. The greats must continue to be great. They are this way and have achieved this highly because excellence is a habit, a mindset, not a goal.
To succeed we must learn to be excellent in everything we do. Do not wait for your endeavors to prosper and to be of excellence because of it. Begin being excellent right now and watch as the snowball grows into the excellence that is recognised.
“You said we are a team. One person struggles, we all struggle. One person triumphs, we all triumph.”
– Timo Cruz (Coach Carter)
When coaching a team, the hardest part is the duality of each individual person’s prosperity coupled with prosperity in togetherness as a team. Ken Carter coaches a basketball team in ‘Coach Carter’ that distinctly lacks self-belief. Carter instills values in the team that helps them to triumph as individuals, but also as a unit.
This duality in coaching is an underpinning theme in the film. Carter teaches both his team and the watching audience that, as part of a team, no one must move forward alone. No one must stay back alone. In order for us to succeed as people, we must succeed within our unit. There is no nobility in leaving the team behind to prosper in one’s self. Achieving greatness as a team, inspires greatness in everyone.
“Life is a game of inches. […] The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game, every minute, every second. […] On this team, we fight for that inch. […] In any fight, it is the guy who is willing to die that is going to win that inch.”
– Tony D’Amato (Any Given Sunday)
Al Pacino’s character is a fantastic coach, both in football and in life. Fighting for our inches is how we succeed in life. Tony’s character teaches his team that it’s those extra inches that make the difference. He, thereby, teaches us that it’s the 2 or 3% that makes the difference.
That 2 or 3% is what sets one person aside as excellent, from another seen as mediocre.
When you drive into central London, the first 95% of the journey will likely be moving traffic. Unless you’ve decided to do this on a Friday at 5pm, in which case I fear for your sanity. The last 5% however, will probably take about the same amount of time as the previous 95.
Through London streets, dense traffic and guys trying to sell you light-up toys on the side of the road. The point here is, that in life, the final inches are the hardest part. But its exactly those inches that make the difference between mediocrity and excellence, great success and failure.
This is what Al Pacino’s character is teaching us, and his team, here in ‘Any Given Sunday’ – a must-watch for these inspiring and moving speeches.
“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always make up for the good times you weren’t paying attention to.”
– Sean (Good Will Hunting)
Sean is Will Hunting’s mentor in this film. An astonishingly intelligent Will struggles with confusion in life. Sean guides him in applying his talents to create a brighter future for himself.
Sean tells Will the above quote. I found this poignant because of the contrast it turns our attention to. As said many times before, life is a series of hills and valleys. The key is to stay on the hills for as long as possible, and get out of the valleys as quickly as possible. This is what Sean is teaching us here. Whilst stuck in the valley, you’ll never be able to see the top of the hill.
Whilst Will beats himself up for his lack of clarity, Sean reminds him that he’s stuck in a valley. Spending the energy climbing the hill would be far more advantageous than worrying about how and why he is stuck in a valley.
Parting Thoughts on Coaching Quotes
These 10 quotes each have a not-so-hidden lesson to be learned. One we can all benefit from understanding. A good coach is one that inspires many to achieve greatness in themselves. A great coach is one who instills positive mindset values that serve as tools for continuing in greatness.
“Give a man a fish and he shall eat for a week. Give a man a fishing rod and he’ll eat for the rest of his life.”
This final quote sums up the job of a great coach in a few words. The coach provides the tools that allow someone to prosper.