Coach Always Said

This post was written by Eric Musselman.

IMO, it is a great reminder that our words as coaches can last a lifetime with the athletes that we coach, so it is imperative that we choose them wisely and intentionally.

I hope there are a few thoughts contained herein that you can edit so that they are meaningful to your athletes.

Here is what Coach Musselman has to say about the post.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve tried to make a note of every time a player said, “Coach always says…”. I’d see an article, highlight it, and toss it in a file.

During that time, I’ve come across hundreds of examples across every sport. It’s a simple reminder of what messages players retain and recall, sometimes years after they’ve left the field or the gym.

Here’s a selection of them.

I hope that some of them strike a chord with you and that they help you with the messages that you craft for your team.

“Enthusiasm is like rippling water; it spreads.”

“Make the easy play.”

“Don’t let your mind convince you that you can’t do something.”

“Play with your heart on defense and your head on offense.”

“The next play is the biggest play.”

“The pain of regret is worse than the pain of disappointment.”

“Let the mistakes go because if you hold on to them you’re going to keep making mistakes.”

“Practice is not about punishment, it’s about improvement.”

“How do you want to be remembered?”

“In 10, 15, 20 years, we won’t remember the scores but will remember the times we had.”

“Something that is moving tends to keep moving, and things that are stopped tend to stay stopped.”

“Don’t fear who you play, even if you know they have an advantage over you.”

“If you can’t be on time, be early.”

“Stay calm and play your game.”

“Every play matters.”

“Things in the past don’t matter, it’s what’s going on now that counts.”

“Don’t take anyone for granted.”

“Keep a cool head in a hot situation.”

“Not to think about ourselves; think about your teammates.”

“There are only two directions we can go — up or down.”

“Don’t let the day go by.”

“A game is just a practice with more people.”

“Play with poise.”

“Being a member of a team is a privilege, not a right.”

“Nobody is going to outwork us, but nobody will have more fun either.”

“You have to go out and find the best competition to compete against if you want to get better.”

“If you are not doing it the right way, why are you doing it? Learn how to do it the right way and practice it the right way.”

“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

“You’ll be remembered by your last performance.”

“Toughness is a skill.”

“Don’t let anyone know that you’re frustrated.”

“You can’t think you’re good enough. If you think you’re good enough, you’re never going to get better.”

“If you do the little things right you’ll have a much better chance to win.”

“What you put in is what you get out.”

“You’re six inches away from success.” [Six inches is the distance between your ears.]

“Winning isn’t like a light bulb. You can’t just switch it on when you need it.”

“You don’t improve during the playoffs. You improve at practice.”

“If you want to be a champ, you have to surround yourself with champs.”

“The season is a marathon not a sprint. What matters is that our team gets better with each game and practice.”

“Fix the small problems and most of the big problems correct themselves.”

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

“We either get better or we get worse. We never stay the same.”

“Hesitate and you’re dead.”

“You have to go hard on every play because it could be the difference in the game.”

“An excuse is the easiest thing in the world to make.”

“I don’t want excuses. I want results.”

“In every crisis lies opportunity.”

“The game doesn’t teach character, it reveals it.”

“Games typically come down to five plays. You either make those plays or you don’t.”

“Keep your mouth shut and keep working.”

“You have to rise to the occasion.”

“The mental is to the physical as 4 is to 1.”

“Just get better every game (and practice).”

“You never have a rebuilding year, you rebuild within yourselves.”

“Concentrate on effort; the results will take care of themselves.”

“Stop talking about doing it and do it.”

“Good things happen to good people who work hard.”

“Life is about relationships.”

Turn the page. Good stuff, bad stuff, just turn the page.”

“Effort is good, but intelligent effort is what we want.”

“Action is quicker than a reaction.”

‘We’re not playing our opponent. We’re trying to beat the game. The opponent is just another hurdle.”

“Have your teammates’ back.”


“Do your job and half of somebody else’s.”

“The person on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”

“It’s not the quantity of practice, it’s the quality.”

“The advantage goes to the aggressor.”

“The people who move ahead are the ones who are ready when their opportunity comes.”

“Two or three bad things happen to you every game. You just have to come back and make another play.”

“It’s like a bundle of sticks. If you are one stick alone, it’s easy to break, but if it’s 11 sticks all together it’s hard to break.”

“Come back harder after you’re hurt.”

“No negative body language.”

“Hard work doesn’t guarantee success.”

“Your job is to find a way to turn the bad into good.”

“Take advantage of every opportunity that comes along. You may only have one chance.”

“The way you play in the game is a reflection of how you practice.”

“Forget about the last play. Think about the next play.”

“There is no such thing as a comfortable lead.”

“If you make a mistake, make an aggressive mistake.”

“The game starts in warm up.”

“If you have a passion for something, then do it as hard as you can — and as well as you can — every time.”


“‘Potential’ is a scary word. It takes work to be good.”

“The team that makes the most plays and wins the turnover battle is going to win the game.”

“Don’t put your head down if you miss a shot.”

“Emotion comes and goes; passion is forever.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *