Just about every great victory is preceded by at least one great pep talk. Some of the greatest pep talks we've gotten growing up have been from the scenes of some of the greatest sports films. Speeches by on-screen coaches, players, mentors or supportive cheerleaders have had many of us hanging on their every word, cheering for the underdog while internalizing the advice for ourselves.
Here is our choice of the top 10 most inspiring pep talks in movie scenes (in no particular order). Hopefully these will inspire you to reach for the metaphorical goal post today, no matter what your circumstance.
10. The Blind Side
The Blind Side is one of the most heart-warming sports movies in recent times. Not only because it is based on the true story of NFL footballer Michael Oher and his foster family, but because it is essentially a tale of truimph, love and family values. The scene in which Michael’s adoptive mother Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) steps onto the field during football practice may leave you smiling. Her pep talk to Michael (Quinton Aaron) is a reminder of how a little bit of understanding goes a long way. Each of us are individuals who respond differently to circumstances. When we look at others who are players on our team we should see them with understanding; as individuals. When we look at ourselves as players, we should consider our individuality and our skills and maintain a belief in our ability to achieve, our own way.
9. Any Given Sunday
Al Pacino stars as Tony D’Amato, head coach of the fictional American football team Miami Sharks in the movie Any Given Sunday. In this goosebumps-inducing speech coach D’Amato encourages his team during half-time of the football playoffs. He explains that “life is a game of inches”. Every action that we decide to make toward our goal is an inch toward success. What it takes for us to win is to just keep inching forward, never giving up and never giving in. No matter what the circumstance, what’s going to count in the end is how much you fought for each inch.
“Great moments… are born from great opportunity”
Kurt Russel plays Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 US Olympics Men’s ice hockey team. He inspires his team before the US vs USSR game by encouraging them to believe that they are entitled to the win. His speech insites the idea that if you believe that you can win and that you do, in fact, deserve to win then you probably will. Seize the opportunity to own your greatness, because you were born for this.
7. We Are Marshall
After a 1970 plane crash kills an entire Marshall University football team, a devastated university, community and football coach are left to pick up the pieces. This scene takes place at the cemetry where the new football team gathers around the new coach, Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) who gives them a heartfelt talk. Even though the odds are against the new team, Lengyl ensures them that they cannot lose. Even if they are beaten in the game, they are not defeated because they are playing with heart and with honor. When you give it your all and play with passion, there is no opportunity for loss. In the end, you win anyway. If not in gold, then in glory.
6. Friday Night Lights
Are you worried about being perfect? In this speech from the classic scene in Friday Night Lights Coach Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) expresses his idea of perfection. Perfection isn’t necessarily getting everything right, achieving every accolade or performing every action with the utmost precision. Perfection is personal accomplishment. Perfection is achieved when you are truest to yourself.
Gene Hackman plays Coach Norman Dale. At the core of his pre-game motivational speech is also the idea that it is not about winning or losing, but about giving your best.
4. Rocky Balboa
So inspiring was the story of boxer Rocky Balboa that it gave rise to five sequels. In the fifth movie, Rocky Balboa, there is a scene where Rocky gives a much needed pep talk to his son. He explains that yes, there will be hardships, because that’s what life deals, but at the end of the day only you are responsible for your dreams and accomplishments. You need to know what you’re worth, go after it and not blame the world for the things you don’t attain.
3. Cool Runnings
This is a motivating and comical scene from the uplifting movie based on a Jamaican bobsled team who dream of Olympic gold. In this scene Yul Brenner (Malik Yoba) encourages Junior Bevil (Rawle D. Lewis) to have courage. This scene aptly demonstrates the power of positive affirmations.
Perseverance is the key to success. Groundskeeper manager Fortune (Charles S. Dutton) bluntly explains this to football player Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger (Sean Astin) who decides that he wants to quit the team.
Giving up when things don’t go your way is easier than persevering through the most difficult times. But giving up gives way to regret while pushing through gives way to truimph. When we consider this, it is evident what the preferred option should be. Don’t give up so easily.
1. Facing the Giants
You don’t know just what you’re capable of until you block out distracting thoughts and excuses. When you see things from within and not always as you perceive them in the physical realm, you give yourself the opportunity to see far beyond your own limitations. This one is not exactly a pep talk as much as it is a cheer. It is one of the most inspirational scenes, not only in the sports movie genre, but in every genre. This scene depicts the power of belief. It shows the amazing consequences of having someone who believes in you, and the power that you possess if you believe in yourself.