Example (audio clip):

Yeah, they had us the first half. I'm not gonna lie—they had us. We weren't defeated, but they had us. But it took guts, it took an attitude—that's all it takes. That's all it takes to be successful is an attitude. And that's what our coach told us. He said, “Hey, it's gonna be tough. It's gonna be hard. You're gonna go out there, you're gonna battle, you're gonna fight, you're gonna do it for one another. Do it for each other, you're gonna do it for yourself, you're gonna do it for us, and you're gonna go out with this win.” And we believed that, we truly did. And it's an awesome feeling. It's an awesome feeling when you truly believe that you're going to be successful.

  1. First of all, I don't think that the first sentence in bold is grammatical. Do you agree?

  2. As for the second sentence, that's where I have a problem. I don't think I fully understand what the speaking is trying to say. What win exactly is he talking about? Go out with it where? To the field or from the game?

4 Answers 4


To "go out" in American sports contexts often refers to the final game -- of a season, of a tournament, or of an athlete's career because he or she is a graduating senior (final year student).

Without knowing more about the context it would be impossible to say for sure which it is, but it's likely to be "you're going to end this season with a win".

Speakers, especially adrenalized speakers, often go off track while speaking.

That's all it takes to be successful is an attitude.

The sentence could have been "That's all it takes to be successful." where the antecedent of "that" would be "an attitude" from the previous sentence. The speaker might be thinking that he had not made the referent clear, and midway during the sentence he attempts an ad hoc but ungrammatical "repair" by tacking on a predicate "is an attitude":

That's all it takes to be successful -- is an attitude.


That's all it takes to be successful is an attitude.

This was misspoken. What was meant was probably:

That all it takes to be successful is an attitude.

go out with this win is idiomatic. It means winning the final contest, say the last game of the season or series.


It can be hard to analyze spoken English, because as with most languages, being ungrammatical doesn't necessarily mean that it's wrong.

For your first question, it's a conflation of two phrases:

  1. That's all it takes to be successful: an attitude.

  2. All it takes to be successful is an attitude.

As someone who spent a lot of time listening to American football coaches in high school, I can say that this phrasing is so common among them that it has gained correctness outside of grammar, it's just a manner of speaking. It's how they talk when they want to generate energy, it leads from a strong "That's all" straight to "an attitude" without stopping. I think it's on purpose to keep momentum in their speech.

For the second phrase, "go out" is clearly a callback to the first "go out" in that section, referring to taking the field at the start of the half. He's saying that these players aren't going to play the game to earn a win, he's saying that they will go out with a won game in their hearts and bring it to reality by sheer force of will. And that's what the player is referring to at the end, that they believed if they took the field and did what their coach told them, that the win already existed inside of them when they took the field, there was no need to be anxious, they just needed to play ball.


When a coach delivers a pep-talk to his team, grammar is not usually a very high priority.

Both of the phrases are idiomatic in nature and would, almost certainly, have made perfect sense to those present at the time.

That's all it takes to be successful is an attitude.

Grammatically incorrect of course but, as the speaker says, effective. The simplest correction would probably be:

An attitude, that's all it takes to be successful.


All it takes to be successful is an attitude

It's worth noting that attitude, when used alone like this is a fairly recent usage (OED):

b. Hence, any highly independent or individual outlook, approach, appearance, etc.; self-possession; style, swagger, front; esp. in with (an) attitude . slang (orig. U.S.).

The first example given in the OED is from Rolling Stone in 1975.

Your second phrase

and you're gonna go out with this win.

is, again, idiomatic and, grammatically, incorrect.

and you're gonna go out of this with a win.

is the most likely meaning but another possibility is that the coach is talking about the potential win being a thing of pride rather than just a result.

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