20 Locker Room Speeches That Will Fire You Up
The inspirational locker room speech delivered pre-, post- or even mid-game is a sports tradition. It's commonplace in locker rooms in most sports at any level and absolutely mandatory in the closing minutes of any great sports film.
Maybe the best athletes don't need any motivation outside of that they have in themselves. But it certainly can't hurt to have another motivational force in the locker room, particularly at the college level where athletes don't have a gigantic game check to inspire them.
Personally, I love this kind of stuff. All the yelling and jumping and high-fiving makes me wish I had given the whole college athletics thing a shot. Here are 20 locker room speeches that will fire up anyone not lacking a soul.
20. The Always Comically Enthusiastic Pete Carroll
Countering the stroke-inducing rage of Bobby Knight, we have the aw-shucks likability of Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. There's no reason that Carroll's man-child antics should fly in the NFL, except that they do.
The players in Seattle really respond to the dedicated prankster in charge. And when Carroll flips the switch from hokey with heart to locker room loudmouth, his guys always eat it up with a spoon.
19. Always Remember: Ducks Fly Together
It's too bad you can't can the Mighty Ducks' Gordon Bombay and deploy his brand of team-first, win-without-losing-yourself locker room schtick any time a group of preteens need to get fired up and take down those soul-sucking jerks from Team Iceland. In fact, I bet Emilio Estevez wishes he was that marketable.
Bombay's speech from D2: The Mighty Ducks doesn't use fear, shame or spite to inspire, just a reminder of the opportunity the kids have to be champions and to do it honorably.
I'm guessing the Flyers aren't fans of his approach.
18. First-Year Head Coach Offers a Season's Worth of Motivation
There are few people who could keep up the same level of intensity that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh managed during his first season in San Francisco. It may be a chore for lesser men, but the elder Harbaugh just couldn't do it any other way.
Most of his postgame speeches from 2011 have made their way to YouTube and, no matter the consequences of the game, Harbaugh's message and enthusiasm were consistent.
17. Auburn's Locker Room Party After Winning BCS Championship
It's been a little more than a year since Auburn vanquished the Oregon Ducks in the BCS Championship Game, but it feels like a decade.
Carolina Panthers franchise quarterback and former Auburn star Cam Newton is entering his second year in the NFL after a historic rookie debut, so it's easy to forget that Newton came out of nowhere in 2010 to lead an unheralded Auburn to the BCS title.
Head coach Gene Chizik's post-BCS speech to his players is a great reminder of how special Auburn's season was and how strong the team's chemistry was by the end of the season.
16. Bobby Knight Motivates Through Rage and F-Bombs
We're all motivated by different things, but I know that for me, personally, nothing lights a fire under my ass than the very real threat of being faced with the business end of a flying chair.
Legendary rage-a-holic Bobby Knight only had two settings: angry and angrier. This audio peek into Knight's locker room is a glimpse into the motivational methods of NCAA basketball's second most winningest coach.
The message was clear: win or die. Talk about fired up!
CAUTION: This clip is jam-packed with unsavory language, so click the play button at your own risk.
15. Ray Lewis Riles Up Stanford Men's Basketball Team
Before facing off with UMass in the 2012 NIT semifinals, the Stanford men's basketball team was treated to a pregame pep talk courtesy of the NFL's motivator-in-chief, the Ravens ageless linebacker Ray Lewis.
The players may have come into the locker room anticipating a basketball game, but they walked out onto the court with strict instructions from Lewis to create their legacy today because tomorrow is never promised. Heavy.
Quoth the RayRay:
"Forget everything else. … We get one opportunity at life, one chance at life to do whatever you’re going to do. So lay your foundation. Make whatever mark you’re going to make. Whatever legacy you’re going to leave, leave your legacy.”
14. Mark Hudspeth's Pregame Speech at the New Orleans Bowl
After watching UL-Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth's speech before the 2011 New Orleans Bowl, it's not surprising to hear that his name is frequently on the short list of hot head coach candidates. And it wasn't just a great locker room moment, it was effective. His team prevailed over San Diego State in a nail-biter.
His energy, his competitive fire: the players respond to it, and it's not hard to imagine wanting to play—and win—for the man.
13. Drew Brees Is Predictably Inspiring
The locker room speech that Saints quarterback Drew Brees gave after breaking Dan Marino's longstanding passing record in December 2011 is a perfect example of why he's come to be one of the most beloved and respected players in the NFL.
In a moment when everyone in the country was talking about his historic achievement, Brees was talking about the role that his teammates, coaches and trainers played in his success and how proud he was of where they had gotten together.
12. Robbie Caldwell Gets His Vandy Boys Psyched
Former Vanderbilt interim head coach Robbie Caldwell may have had a rough end to his stint with the Commodores (I mean, most Vandy coaches do), but this postgame rouser shows the man is beloved by his players.
At a program like Vanderbilt, which has historically struggled, it's moments like this that make it worth it to those who give their all to the team and school.
11. Rudy: "No One, and I Mean No One, Comes into Our House and Pushes Us Around"
No matter what that mean, old Joe Montana says, Rudy Ruettiger is the ultimate underdog and a national treasure.
The story of the undersized Notre Dame defensive end who just wouldn't quit wouldn't be complete without the inspirational locker room speech by the coach at the end of the movie.
Coach Devine delivers one of the most understated but powerful locker room speeches in sports-movie history.
10. Knute Rockne: "And Don’t Forget, Men: Today Is the Day We’re Gonna Win"
Legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne transformed the game of football on and off the field.
His outsized personality, his style and his approach have provided a template for generations of coaches and players. Almost all the elements of the modern game are rooted in his legacy, from featuring the forward pass to the enduring prominence of Notre Dame’s football program.
Rockne’s iconic locker room speeches are forever enshrined in college football history and why fans and players expect good coaches to be able to motivate and inspire.
There is no better example than this famous line captured in the video above (Rockne "performed" this speech for a newsreel):
“And don’t forget, men—today is the day we’re gonna win. They can’t lick us—and that’s how it goes. … The first platoon men—go in there and fight, fight, fight, fight, fight! What do you say, men!”
You can see why the man is a legend among legends.
9. Ed Reed Keeps It Short, Sweet and Kinda Scary
Ravens superstar safety Ed Reed has never been one to mince words or needlessly run his mouth, dating back to his college ball days at the University of Miami. This is why when Reed does speak up, his teammates tend to listen.
In 2001, upset by what he perceived as his teammates lack of emotion about being down against FSU at halftime, Reed used his own emotion to set an example. His brief but impassioned plea obviously had an impact: The 'Canes outscored the 'Noles 28-8 in the second half and won the game.
8. Tony D'Amato: "We Can Climb Outta Hell One Inch at a Time."
Oliver Stone's football drama Any Given Sunday isn't exactly a cinematic touchdown, but a few standout performances saved the director's heavy-handed take on the NFL from being completely unwatchable.
Far from just simply watchable, though, was the speech given by coach Tony D'Amato, played by Al Pacino, in the film's waning minutes. Pacino's delivery of the speech is what gave an otherwise forgettable movie a lasting sports legacy.
7. WVU's Bill Stewart Leaves No Doubt
Bill Stewart was named the interim coach of WVU, eventually losing the interim title after Rich Rodriguez fled for a short-lived stint at Michigan. But his tenure as the Mountaineers head coach was cut short after a falling out with the athletic department over their decision to bring in Dana Holgorsen as the coach-in-waiting.
In May 2012, Stewart died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 59, but he won't soon be forgotten.
One of his career's defining moments was the speech he delivered to his WVU team before facing Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. The underdog Mountaineers went on to rout the Sooners, and Stewart's pregame "leave no doubt" speech was immortalized.
6. Vince Lombardi Before Super Bowl II
After defeating the Cowboys in the famed Ice Bowl to reach Super Bowl II, the Packers seemed primed for a letdown against the once-formidable Raiders. But not even facing a chance to secure his legacy and achieve football immortality was enough to make legendary coach Vince Lombardi blink.
In his pregame speech to his Packers, Lombardi acknowledges the indescribable hugeness of the moment, but underscores that acknowledgement with a very simple path to victory.
A championship was guaranteed, Lombardi instructed, if they forgot the size of the stage, the ferocity of the opponent and just focused on the fundamentals.
And of course we know how that all worked out for Green Bay.
5. Ray Lewis Puts a Good Spin on AFC Championship Loss
Since being drafted by the Ravens in 1996, future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis has transformed from a tremendously talented trouble maker to one of the NFL's most respected elder statesman and the league's leading producer of authentically motivational speeches.
It has been more than a decade since the Ravens franchise captured their first championship in Super Bowl XXXV, so putting a positive spin on their AFC Championship loss to the Patriots in 2012 was no easy task.
But Ray Lewis, as only Ray Lewis could do, gave a postgame speech powerful enough to comfort his teammates and change public perception of the loss.
What was once a crushing blow to a veteran team whose Super Bowl dreams were dying, became a necessary stepping stone to gain the strength and experience required to achieve future success.
4. Les Miles: Play for Victory
LSU head coach Les Miles has a laid back, and sometimes even kooky, demeanor that stands in stark contrast to fellow SEC heavyweight Nick Saban of Alabama. Disarming as his persona may be, any team that has run through his buzz saw in the Bayou in recent years knows the Tigers' coach means business.
This glimpse into the LSU locker room during the 2010 season is positive proof that, despite his projected air of a good-natured clown with the media, Les Miles is as serious as a heart attack come game day.
3. Hoosiers' Norman Dale Flips the Script
A little more than 25 years since its release, Hoosiers remains among the most beloved sports movies in history. The film was based on the true story of an improbable state championship won by a small-town Indiana high school in the mid '50s.
The old adage "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game" is a tired cliche embraced mostly by losers. Only coach Norman Dale could turn such an antiquated notion into a believably motivational rallying cry capable of carrying a team of underdogs to an inspiring second half victory.
"If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game. In my book, we're gonna be winners! OK?"
2. Tim Tebow's Defining Moment
These days Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow is just "really excited" to give his team a chance to win, no matter what his role looks like. At least that's what the never-deviated-from talking points that he's been issued say.
Tebow's generic company-man spiel is a far cry from the halftime speech he gave to his Gators teammates during the 2008 BCS Championship. The fiery speech would come to define his warrior image and will go down in history as one of the greatest halftime speeches of all time.
1. Herb Brooks Inspires a Miracle
The pregame speech coach Herb Brooks gave to the U.S. men's national hockey team prior to their gold medal game against the USSR in the 1980 Olympics is the greatest locker room speech of all time. Actually, it's one of the greatest motivational speeches ever—even outside the sports world.
Brooks' inspiring speech preceded a U.S. victory which was so improbable that it was quickly dubbed the "Miracle on Ice." When the Soviet Union fell just over a decade later, signaling the official end of 40 years of Cold War, the words took on eerily prophetic tone which, in retrospect, seemed to signify a permanent shift in the war's dynamic and predict the USSR's inevitable demise.
Great moments are born from great opportunity.
And that's what you have here tonight, boys.
That's what you've earned here, tonight.
If we played 'em 10 times, they might win nine.
But not this game. Not tonight.
Tonight, we skate with 'em.
Tonight, we stay with 'em, and we shut them down because we can!
Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world.
You were born to be hockey players—every one of ya.
And you were meant to be here tonight.
This is your time.
Their time—is done. It's over.
I'm sick and tired of hearin' about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em!
This is your time!!