10 Greatest Athletes of All Time (And What We Can Learn From Them)

3 March 2021

You Can Learn Some-Thing From Everyone. Here Are Some Lessons You Can Learn From the Greatest Athletes of All Time.

Are talent and hardwork the only things required to perform at the highest levels, for the greatest athletes of all time?

Not exactly.

According to a study by Howe Davidson & Sloboda:

“Innate gifts do not determine success, because everybody at the top has those physical attributes”

Top performers use something called deliberate practice to achieve greatness. In this article we’ll go over how they did it, and what you can learn from them.

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Why knock yourself out reading a long and boring article, when you can stream a fun YouTube video? Check out the video version of this article:

Without further ado, let’s move on to the article.


Nadia Comaneci

When the International Gymnastic Federation made their code of points, they didn’t think someone could ever score a perfect 10.

That’s until Nadia Comaneci came along. At the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, she shocked the world by being the first gymnast to ever hit a perfect score. And not once, but 7 times, making her one of the greatest athletes of all time.

To understand how insane that was, the scoreboard wasn’t even programmed to show a perfect 10, so they showed “1.00” instead.

For the audience, it seems like she was defying the laws of physics. For her, it was just a routine she practiced thousands of times before.

“Deliberate practice is purposeful and systematic.”

It’s when you make small and achievable steps towards meaningful improvement.

Did we mention she was 14 at the time?


Carl Lewis

He is an American born athlete who managed to be number one in the world at 100m and long jump at the same time and also win 4 consecutive Olympic titles.

Here’s what his coach had to say:

“Everyone used to criticize Carl Lewis, saying he didn’t have a good start, but praise him for his great kick. Absolutely wrong! Carl spread his energy evenly”

So what can we learn from this?

Too many people think that overworking your ass off is the way to go. According to a research paper by The Business Roundtable, overworking is, if anything, a waste of time.


Lionel Messi

For football fans everywhere, he doesn’t need no introduction. For them, he is THE greatest athlete of all time.

Messi holds the record for most goals in La Liga, the Supercopa de España, the UEFA Super Cup and is the player with the most official recorded assists in football history.

According to Craig Friedman, the performance innovation team director at Athlete’s Performance, Messi is “faster with the ball at his feet than the defenders are without the ball”.

His training revolves around the elements that make him the most agile: Explosiveness, stability, and technique. Knowing exactly what will make you better and targeting those specific areas will have the greatest returns.


Michael Phelps 

He is the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time and broke a total of 39 world records during his career as a competitive swimmer.

According to his coach, Bob Bowman, what makes Michael Phelps special is his mental game.

He writes down his goals in form of times for various races and he visualises himself swimming the whole race from both his perspective and from the audience. 

This is something we said countless times before. Writing down your goals and constantly checking them is super important to make sure you are always in the right place, both mentally and physically.


Serena Williams 

She is one of the most dominant tennis players in history, winning more Grand Slam single titles 

than any other athlete, man or woman.

One great thing to take away from Serena’s training is her ability to adapt.

In an interview with Fitness Magazine, she said:

“For me, it’s so important to mix it up.  I ran, and then I biked. Then I did elliptical. That didn’t work out so well, because it was boring, so I tried yoga.”

It’s super important to know when and how to pivot when things are not working out. Like Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”


Michael Jordan

We’re starting this one off with a quote we love from the greatest athlete of all time:

“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.”

It’s a great example of not giving up when things aren’t going your way. We went into great detail on how athletes reach the peak of their potential in our premium learning experience, Goal Mastery.

We used the same approach to build everything we have in life, including Alux.

Goal setting and ways of achieving them is something that most people struggle on a daily basis. How many of you already quit on your new year’s resolutions?

For the past 1.5 years, we’ve carefully crafted everything we found that works into this course and it’s available right now!

Go to goalsbyalux.com and enroll now!


Usain Bolt

What can you learn from the fastest man alive? There is a lot of science behind it.

The 100m sprint is a very interesting sport because, since it lasts under 10 seconds at the highest level, it can be broken in very specific phases which then can be analyzed in great detail.

We won’t go super science on you, but the great take away is this:
You’d think that sprinters are super fast because they swing their legs faster than anyone else.
In reality however, the reason why they are so fast is because they hit the ground harder than everyone else.

A study by Peter Weyand, a physiologist on human speed at Southern Methodist University in Texas showed that the more force a sprinter can back into the ground, the faster he or she goes.

For Usain Bolt, he hits the track with about 1000 pounds of force. In comparison, Conor McGregor’s punch packs about 850 pounds of force.

So if Usain Bolt steps on you while he’s sprinting you’ll get knocked off harder than if Conor Mcregor could punch you. 

But what does this have to do with you? 

Sometimes, what pushes you forward isn’t obvious when you first look at the problem. But modern tracking tools can help you figure where exactly to improve.


Roger Federer

Let’s take a look at another tennis player who, to this date, has won 82% of his matches. We didn’t include him randomly in this list. There is a very important topic we want to address and Roger Federer is a perfect example.

When the stakes are high, emotions can cripple you.

In his early years, Federer was a really hot headed guy and often he would let emotions get the best out of him. There are even compilations on Youtube with him smashing rackets.

But, Federer showed that he is truly the greatest athlete of all time and decided to get a sports psychologist to help with his mental state. He’s come a long way since. In a 2009 story from The New York Times it was stated that if he would:

not learned to control his emotions and gain a sturdier mental approach when he was younger, Federer could easily have gone the way of Marat Safin, supremely talented but unable to convert pure skill into greatness.”

What we can learn from him is to always pay close attention to your mental fortitude. You’re in for the long run and you’ll need it.

If  you’re good at something, there are high chances you’ll make great money from it. Same rule applies to tennis players as well. Check out Top 15 Richest Tennis Players in The World.


Muhammad Ali

Mike Tyson famously stated that he would lose a match against Ali any day.

He was just a dead-game guy. He was dead game. He had too much pride. He refused to lose.”

To take a quote from John Wick, Ali was a man of focus, commitment and sheer f-ing will power.

Muhammad Ali was someone who actually hated training but he believed it’s better to suffer the pain now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.

And sometimes no matter how much you plan and strategize, there will be moments where sheer f-ing will power is needed to move forward.


Wayne Gretzky

We think you’re really going to love this last entry on our list because Wayne Gretzy was never the fastest, strongest or athletic hockey player out there.

How then, did he become one of the greatest athletes of all time?

Actually when the first entered the league, critics said he was “too small, too wiry, and too slow to be a force in the NHL.”

He consistently was last in strength tests, and a lot weaker besides the average NHL players. Despite this, he went on to become the greatest hockey player of all time and some say even the greatest athlete to ever walk this earth.

There’s even a statue of him outside the Staples Center.

So, how did he manage to pull this off?

Wayne learned the game better than his phone number.

“Nine out of ten people think it’s instinct, and it isn’t. Nobody would ever say a doctor had learned his profession by instinct; yet in my own way I’ve put in almost as much time studying hockey as a medical student puts in studying medicine.”

He learned the game so well and he studied so many plays that he could react instantly to any kind of situation. For his opponents, it seemed like he could see in the future.

He could accurately predict what was about to happen way before his opponents decided what they were about to do. It was impossible to catch him off guard.

He had more assists in his career than any other NHL player had assists plus goals.

He could not score a single goal in his entire career and still be the NHL all-time points leader. 

A true master of the game and a man among boys.

So what can you learn from him?

Sometimes even though you can’t face the situation heads on, you can always outplay it by learning how the game works.

We hope you got your dose of motivation from this article, Aluxers.


How do you plan to tackle your goals? Which strategies are you going to use?