When they say “timing is everything,” it’s especially true of sports photography. It’s a matter of milliseconds when it comes down to capturing moments in live-action sports. And regardless of all the painstaking hard work that athletes go through, one frame can represent their entire career. For the better of, the worse, that is.
Check out these incredible action shots. Not only do these athletes deserve a standing ovation, but hats off to these photographers and their agile fingers who managed to snap their camera at the exact right moment.
Everyone at a baseball game dreams of catching the ball and take it home as their prize. The guy on the right is clearly reaching for his dreams, but he didn’t realize the mother who was there who meant business.
And who said holding a baby in one hand means you can’t make an awesome catch with the other? But to be honest, I can’t help but think about how unsafe this is for a baby. But whatever, she got the ball to take home and an epic photo as well!
This might just be the best surprise photobomb I’ve ever seen. This woman just wanted to take a carefully orchestrated selfie of herself at a baseball game, but she was about to find out that selfies can be a lot more dangerous than they seem.
Moments after she snapped the shot, she personally experienced the kind of pain a baseball to the head can give. She might not be able to remember the whole thing, but at least she has this photo to prove it. talk about epic.
Michelle Obama is easily one of the most classy, put-together women in the media. But even the classiest of ladies can experience the clumsiest of moments and lose their cool. For example, when a tennis ball is flying towards them.
This photo of her dodging a tennis ball is probably the only known shot of her looking uncool. But knowing the former first lady, she must have made up for this moment with some killer serves afterward.
Gliding around an ice rink with bladed shoes sounds like the proper ingredients for some danger. But, professional ice skaters like to push things to the limit and bend our perception of reality. Before looking at this photo, I didn’t think humans could bend this way.
All the while, she bends and twirls with such nonchalance and effortless grace. The photographer who captured this moment got the perfect shot, which shows how insanely talented and flexible ice skaters are. All while spinning on one leg!
I think we can all relate to this guy’s expression in this specific moment. His face and gesture tell us everything, and it looks like he’s ready to call it a day. That, or he just likes to throw his bat in the air and catch it every once in a while.
Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankee player, gave it his all, but today just isn’t his day. Or so it seems. He’s dropping the bat and is getting the hell out of there. Rodriguez faced some major criticism as of late due to possible performance enhancement drugs.
Not to sound cheesy or anything, but the beautiful thing about sports is that it unites people from all over the world. The players come from all kinds of countries, religions, and cultures. This picture captures the essence of that perfectly.
As we see, one team is fine showing skin during their beach volleyball match, but the other – not so much. Regardless of what they wear, the one and most important thing they have in common is their love for the sport, and the freedom to play. Amen! Right?
Although he might have made a game-changing point, he forgot about the gravitational fact that what goes up must come down. The photographer caught this rather unflattering moment of the ball falling back down on his face.
I only hope that the points he earned when making this basket was worth the smack in the face and the unappealing photo that will forever roam the internet. But let’s face it – he probably couldn’t care less and continued playing with no care in the world.
I’m going to leave that headline as is and I’m not going to elaborate on it. You can let your mind wander where it wants to wander. But this photo that makes it look like she has no head only adds to the off-putting feeling that gymnastics tends to emit.
But anyways, this seemingly floating body does, in fact, have a head attached to her body. Her back bend skills are clearly through the roof, and the photographer’s snapping skills aren’t far off either.
You don’t get to see faces like these when the re-plays are put on the screen. Listen, if you ever get a soccer ball to the face, it’s not a pretty sight. And it’s not a nice feeling either. Just imagine how hard those kicks are.
It’s safe to say that this hit was obviously unexpected, but the photographer may have seen it coming before the player did. Which could explain how he had the focus on the right spot and at the right time.
This is a photo of two athletes playing the game of sepak takraw, otherwise referred to as kick volleyball. The sport is native to Southeast Asia, and it limits the players to only using their feet, knees, chest, and head.
That kind of limitation makes for some strange positions when you’re trying to get the ball over the net. This is why these two guys, or any kick volleyball players, would have been good at the game Twister. But that was before their time.
I don’t know about you guys, but my arm doesn’t bend that way. This baseball pitcher has somehow learned how to perfect his external rotation, and I’m guessing the fastball that followed was probably one to remember.
It looks like his arm is detachable, like a toy of sorts. Is it his arm that’s backward or his head? His opponents better watch out, that’s for sure. The ball clearly has some momentum behind it.
The look on this gymnast’s face says it all. She looks almost surprised to be mid-air as if she just woke up like that and she realized she needs to land somehow. But considering that’s highly unlikely, chances are she’s just hoping to land smoothly.
It’s not often that we get to see the face of gymnasts as they flip and split across the floor or beam. This rare photo captures the level of concentration needed to. She looks like a wild cat pouncing towards her prey, almost.
Ever wondered what happens to your face if you get punched by a professional boxer? Well, here you go, folks. This slow-motion shot shows you exactly what goes down. And it doesn’t look pretty.
You can see the force of that punch literally traveling through his face and head. That punch had a ton of momentum, and I can’t imagine the kind of damage this can cause. Shouldn’t they be wearing helmets?!
This is Rickie Weeks of the Milwaukee Brewers,’ and he got an unexpected surprise during the 4th inning of this particular game. Look, it happens to everyone – even professional baseball players. He missed the ball, and it went straight into his jaw.
He was probably ready to pass home base and run straight to his actual home after this unfortunate incident. Somebody get him an icepack and Advil ASAP and a well-deserved vacation. Oh, and he might need some dental work.
I admit it – I used to watch ice skating when I was little. But one thing I was always nervous about when watching those fancy dressed skaters move swiftly around a hockey rink was what would happen if they fell??
This is the side of figure skating that isn’t so graceful and appealing. And also, nerve racking! I’ve never seen this happen live, but I can imagine my jaw dropping and having to cover my eyes. It’s just too risky for me to handle!
Talk about cool. This guy knows how to keep a cool demeanor even during wakeboarding. This wakeboarder got to look himself straight in the eye! If he didn’t wipe out after this second, then wow. That’s skill right there.
He really knows how to keep his cool as he balances himself parallel over the water. Isn’t it great that there are photographers around to snap shots like these? Hats off to this guy. He deserves a medal.
This woman came out to support all the cyclists in the race. Her spirit (ahem, body, ahem) really had people going. But she happened to stand very close to the road where all the cyclists were speeding down.
I gotta say, I’m not sure if he was trying to high five people or if he specifically wanted to give her a tap on her behind. Judging by his face, I’m gonna have to go with the decision that he did exactly what he wanted to. And that’s to push her a bit away from the road – to keep her safe, of course….
The shot put event isn’t the most popular sport, but it is pretty impressive. It might seem easy, but it’s way harder than you think. It takes strength to throw a metal ball as far as possible. Just look at this guy’s face!
He has to be straining every muscle in his body (and face) to make this expression. He almost looks like a puffer fish. Luckily, someone was around to capture his effort and show us what it really takes. But he probably won’t be hanging this one on the wall.
Sometimes in sports, you have to go for the shot or goal no matter what the consequences are. That was the case in this perfectly timed photo. One basketball player decided to take one for the team and make a dive for it.
But he wasn’t the only one who was going to take a hit. The guy in the white jersey knows there’s no escaping his faith. Looks like he’s about to get a little too close for comfort with his opponent in just a few milliseconds.
Have you ever heard of the term ‘crack of the bat?’ It refers to the sound that the bat makes when it hits a baseball. And it looks like this player took it to a whole new level with his bat literally cracked in half.
Maybe a good play came out of this epic bat-breaking swing. If not, then at least we have this awesome photo. Hopefully, he wasn’t too attached to this bat because there’s no turning back now.
Both of these soccer players wanted to head-butt the ball, but what it looks like they fused together into one human! Though it’s cool that they ended up looking like a superhuman, the inevitable head butt that occurred just a second later must have hurt!
And if the ball missed both of their heads, they could have gotten a handball. And that’s a big no-no in soccer. But you probably already know that as a sports fan.
To pull off a move like this, you’re going to have to do yoga every day for a long time. Because bending like this takes practice. This high jumper is straining to make sure her back doesn’t touch the bar.
That’s not easy to do. Her toes are close to touching the back of her head. This really is an intense photo and one that she should be proud of enough to frame. Hard work and training pays off in the end.
The photographer who snapped this image managed to capture the swimmer the second before coming out of the water. Which means it looks more like he was about to reborn The Matrix rather than come out of the water.
If this isn’t a perfect example of a perfectly timed photo, then I don’t know what is. Doesn’t it make the water look so much thicker than it really is? Who knows, maybe those pools have special water.
This photo has just too many faces and too many emotions. Some fans are excited to possibly catch the ball, while others fear for their lives. And then there are those who just want to watch this disaster play out. Which one would you be?
It’s a pretty hilarious photo if you ask me. We don’t know what happened in the end, but let’s hope someone at least caught the flying ball and also that no one ended up getting hurt!
This doesn’t look like the brightest moment in this wrestler’s career. He catches a desperate glimpse of the photographer and makes direct eye contact as he’s coming up for air mid-tackle during the match.
Although this maneuver was likely highly practiced and anticipated, I can’t help but think that this expression is also screaming “Help me!” But that’s not likely. Who knows, maybe he won the match.
It looks like cricket players really get down and dirty and give the game every ounce of energy they’ve got. This player took a large stride, lost his balance along the way, and ended up somewhere he would rather not be.
He found his face in the most embarrassing place possible. And to make things worse; a photographer caught it all on camera. But judging by the guy’s face who’s standing, it doesn’t look like he wanted this to happen either.
Here’s another guilty pleasure that I’ll admit – I love watching synchronized swimming! It’s really like a work of art in the water. The beautiful synchronized swim dancing and the colorful bathing suits is all fun to see.
And wow, that is some hard work! Can you imagine actually doing what they do? This photo is really cool because it makes her look like an extremely tall sea like creature. What a photo, huh?
Yes, if it was anyone of us during our childhood, we would have cannon-balled straight into the water. But no, this isn’t a cannonball. This is just a shot of her during one of her many calculated flips into the water.
With a face like that, it must be from the gravitational pull of falling into the air. Which makes it really cool! It looks like a big splash was about to occur. But the Olympic judges don’t like splashing.
Talk about different faces with different emotions. The goalie looks like he’s daydreaming of catching a ball. The player that was defending is in or going to be in a lot of pain. And the other player is either ecstatic or incredibly angry.
The goalie thought he was defending the net, but he ended up punching a player out of the way instead. Ouch. The guy below him might just be laughing, but soon he’ll see that there’s nothing funny about that kind of pain.
Okay, so let’s try to break this picture down. On the left, we see a player’s helmet in mid-air. On the right side, we see a player who fell while successfully catching the baseball. And now we understand whose helmet that is.
It’s funny to think how he managed to get into that position and have his helmet fly off his head and spiral out like that. All I know is that this is an epic moment for this player and his team and an even more epic photo.
I have to admit that I’m not a fan of horse races. I can’t imagine that these horses are enjoying themselves when jockeys are straddled on them and whipping them to go faster
Maybe this horse just wasn’t having it and flung his jockey off his back as a sort of “I’ve had enough” gesture. Just look at this horse’s eye! If anyone bet on this horse to win the race, they’re in for a fail.
This picture couldn’t be more perfectly timed. This baseball player didn’t take any chances trying to make it to the base in time and just went for an epic leap. And what he got was an incredible shot that will eternally be seen forever.
You could say this was a leap of faith as well because you have to acknowledge the risks involved. Not just in terms of missing the mark or time, but also for his possible injuries on his face and body.
At first glance, all I can say is the poor guy. He didn’t see this coming, and he is not happy about it. Number 28 is too focused on the game that he could care less about poor Number 9’s private parts.
Number 9 not only looks like he is in pure shock but also like he knows he’s going to need an ice pack immediately. I’m going to assume that the other team got a penalty and hopefully he scored a nice penalty kick after this.
The look in their eyes is the same look that little kids have when they’re playing around in their room after bedtime and mom walks in and catches them. Am I right? Go back to bed, guys!
Anyways, even though they’re on opposite teams, these two players look like they’re best buddies who play each other in the neighborhood basketball court every day. And you know what, maybe they did!
If that isn’t the face of fear, then what is? Irish tennis player, Louk Sorensen, just barely dodged a tennis ball to the face at the 2010 Australian Open. And this photographer caught in on camera in full focus.
And despite this near disaster moment, Sorensen made history by being the first Irish player to win a match at the Open. He must be glad his face made it out alright.
Okay, so is this ballet or basketball? It looks like the New York Knicks player is performing a graceful solo for everyone to see. He is just about doing the splits in the air! And those are some long legs, too.
In reality, this photo was probably shot when he was nailing a slam dunk or at least trying to. You can see the anticipation in everyone’s faces behind him. All eyes on him for this epic moment. Did he get the basket, though?
The photographer caught this Olympic swimmer, mid-race, in the middle of much needed deep breath. These are the kinds of moments that onlookers rarely get to see when sitting in the bleachers.
The water seen cascading from off of the swimmer almost makes it look like he’s standing under a waterfall, no? But I’m guessing that the actual race against Michael Phelps probably isn’t as relaxing as an imaginative waterfall.
Okay, who invited the shark? This is supposed to be a surfing competition. I thought we agreed that no sharks are allowed. This surfer is in for a gnarly surprise. He might be nailing that gigantic wave, but he isn’t the only one along for the ride.
The surfer’s epic ride looks impressive, and so is this perfectly timed photo. Let’s hope he doesn’t meet any new friends on his way down from the wave. Otherwise, we would have a whole different kind of photo.
Well, this must have been awkward. Either this guy has a flawless new defense tactic, or he is just helping out a friend. Maybe he noticed a booger throughout the game and this was his moment to help the guy out.
He figured this was the right moment to do it since no one sees him at the net. But then this photo came along. It’s basically the worst time to go digging for gold. But there are no boundaries when it comes to true friendship.
Remember our beloved basketball ballerina? Well, he might have a new competitor but at a different sport. This football star might invite him for a duet. He dodged that tackle with grace and deserved a standing ovation.
I’m wondering how he even jumped this high. But the photographer caught him at the best angle, as he looks like he could be flying rather than jumping.
Here’s another baseball crowd moment for the history books. And it goes to show that sometimes the best action shots happen off the field. This poor guy had no idea what was about to hit him.
Okay, yes I see all the scared faces of all the adults in the crowd, but has anyone paid attention to the young toddler on the left that is only a couple feet away from the flying bat?! And her dad didn’t do such a good job of covering her!
Here’s a couple of faces that show sheer panic. Looks like the guys just saw the boogie man or something equally as terrifying and is making a run for it. The photographer snapped the chaos in the nick of time.
But rather than some make-believe monster that’s headed their way, it’s a soccer ball that is approaching them. The struggle is real for these guys. And so are their faces. You can’t fake those emotions.
Here’s one of the greatest tennis legends doing what she does best. Serena Williams doesn’t let any tennis ball fly past her, even if it means going for it and getting her pink outfit all dirty.
The photographer caught her in the moment as she gears up for what is sure to be an epic backhand swing. One that possibly wins her the game. Even in this moment of athleticism, Serena manages to look flawless.
This photo captured the brute force behind this back kick. They call it the “skull crusher” as you can see why. We can see a ripple effect as his foot wipes the smile straight off his opponent’s back.
This may be crushing the skull on his back, but there is for sure also a UFC move that really does hit the actual skull. And that can’t be a good move. Um, brain damage much?
The last move was the skull-crusher, but this is the “Nose-breaker.” Talk about a hit to the face! This baseball player wasn’t such a lucky guy that day. He just missed the ball with his mitt, and his face caught it instead.
And I think the word “ouch” sums it up. Let’s hope he at least managed to slow down the momentum of the ball and didn’t walk away with a broken nose. But then again, he has an awesome photo to show his kids.
Someone forgot to tie her shoes in the morning! Ethiopian track star Etenesh Diro was definitely a crowd favorite at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil after she completed her 3000 meters steeplechase with just one shoe!
She lost her shoe after a mid-race collision, but instead of giving up, she kept running and finished the race in 7th place no less! After filing an appeal, she was granted permission to advance to the next round. You go, girl!
At first glance, you might think this photo is photo-shopped, but this epic photo is as real as it gets. Pictured here is Robbie Madison, an Australian motorbike stunt rider. And he literally lives life on the edge.
Robbie knows no limits and took his stunts to the Pacific. Apparently, he spent two years preparing for this event. But then again, maybe he just caught away when riding on the beach and couldn’t stop his bike when he went on the water.
Simona Halep, the Romanian tennis player, is caught in a rather unflattering and scary predicament. That tennis ball is heading right to her noggin, and I don’t know if she had enough time to dodge it.
Photos like these make you realize that all these photographers are seeing disasters before they strike, getting their cameras ready and in focus, and then capturing the moment for all of us to see.
Looks like this basketball referee had a moment of royal stature. He was standing at the right place at the right time, and his expression makes it seem like a divine beam of light also came down upon him.
There might not be anyone bowing down to him, but we all know that sports refs sometimes think they are royalty either way. By the looks of the scoreboard, San Antonio might be happy to be subjects in this guy’s kingdom.
Wrestling and ballroom dancing have more in common than we would think. These wrestlers look like they could easily be partners on the dance floor, performing a waltz they practiced months for.
This moment of bromance was captured and revealed to the world to show us how elegant wrestling can be. And since this is an aggressive sort of dance, you gotta wonder, who’s leading?
Take a moment and look at the player with the black helmet. That’s his head bending backward! Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, Antwaan Randle El, got in a bit of a bind during a game against the Cleveland Browns.
Antwaan announced his retirement in 2012. This photo is a perfect example of the dangers of keeping the ball and getting tackled. It’s also an example of just how dangerous football can be!
Or at least she wishes that she could. This photograph isn’t what it seems, and her routine is actually going according to plan. It’s just that her facial expression says otherwise. She makes it look like she made a huge mistake.
It looks as though she may be headed for an uncomfortable landing and bracing for impact on her way down from what was a tricky move. It’s really amazing what gymnasts can do when you think about it.
Looks like Norwegian Hockey player, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, lost his head. Literally. Yes, at first glance, it looks like he’s a ghost. But, it was taken in a heated moment during the Finland vs. Norway game.
His helmet flew off from the force of the tackle. And hockey is pretty tackle-some. It looks like it’s floating mid-air, and his head is nowhere to be seen. By the way, the guy sitting in the crowd doesn’t look impressed by the act.
Drew Gooden has nothing chill about him in this photo. He either looks horrified or overcome with excitement by the sight of an incoming ball. Gooden played for the Milwaukee Bucks from 2010 until 2013.
Throughout his NBA career, he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and The Washington Wizards. I guess he managed to get over his hidden fear of basketballs.
Andre De Grasse and Usain Bolt share a sweet moment as they cross the finish line. The two track stars came in first and second in this 200m semi-final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The two also hugged following the race, taking their bromance to another level of adorable.
Bolt took home three gold medals in Rio, which ended up being the last Olympics of his career. Although De Grasse didn’t get a gold medal, he did become the first male athlete to win a medal for Canada.
Only cowboys have the guts to ride an angry bull with the risk of getting thrown off. This cowboy had to know it would happen, but that fact doesn’t soften his landing in any case.
The bull looks pleased as he just stands there watching the rider fall out of the air head first. I hope this cowboy can appreciate a good photo because this gem deserves to be framed and hung on the wall.
I don’t know the technical rules of wrestling, but this move doesn’t look permissible by any means. Can you really stick your hand in your opponent’s mouth and call it a wrestling move? All this other guy has to do is bite down and game over.
But the Canadian competitor didn’t seem to realize this, and kept his grip held tight. I can’t help but wonder if this photo was used to assign some penalty points or not. And I also have the need to say ouch.
This soccer snapshot looks like it was taken right out of an action movie. The players could easily be photoshopped to make it look like they’re jumping out of a truck that’s about to blow up.
Okay, so these might not be Hollywood-worthy stunt moves, but this dive towards the ball is nothing short of explosive. There are no limits to what players will do to keep the ball out of the goal.
Golf champion Tiger Woods is seen high-fiving his caddie at the 2005 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. This marked the 9th of Woods’ fifteen major championships. And it really looks like a joyous moment.
His performance that day also earned him his 4th green jacket, which is the official attire worn by members of the Augusta National. This excited high five was clearly well warranted and serves for a sweet photo.
Dennis Rodman is now a retired NBA player, but this is from the days of when he rocked the NBA world. He made a dive for a loose ball at this moment. Rodman is famous for defensive moves like these, which is how he earned his nickname, “the worm.”
It’s photos like these that help mark his basketball legacy as one of the best defensive players in the history of the sport. Rodman played for the Detriot Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.
This ping pong player is in the zone. But that means that from the outside, it looks more like a fish out of water rather than a person playing ping pong. We can all learn a thing or two about concentration from this player.
This photo takes keeping your eye on the ball to a whole new level. He’s in a staring contest that he has no intention of losing. By the way, who knew ping pong was a real sport? I only really saw it as a professional sport on ‘Forrest Gump.’
It looks like this volleyball player didn’t have much of choice in when it came to a ball coming right at her face. There’s nowhere else to look but straight ahead. And it only means that she’s going to feel some real pain soon.
She can see what is about to happen and just can’t look away. Her look of fear says it all, and luckily the photographer was there to capture this shot right before it got ugly. Ice pack, anyone?
Italian figure skaters Stefania Berton, and Ondrej Hotarek, compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The pair was caught in action as Hotarek threw her over his head. And the look on her face is not what she would want to be freeze-framed.
True to their Italian roots, the skater looks like he’s spinning pizza dough over his head and ready to prepare the most delicious pizza the world has ever tasted. But this is no pizza, anymore. This is a woman.
This tennis player is the real deal. Tennis is her passion, and playing is as serious as it gets. She may have some anger issues that she likes to unleash, at her tournaments. And hey, taking it out on the ball is better than a person or anything else.
But it would suck to be her opponent. I mean, she takes fierce to a whole new level. Let’s just hope that her rage sticks to the tennis court and she doesn’t bring it home in any way. It sure makes for an exciting match to watch, though.
How come I didn’t get the invite to this dance party? These soccer players look like they chose to forget about the game and instead just wanted to dance like no one’s watching. Either that or they’re just trying to get the ball.
Although they’re on opposing teams, their moves look perfectly choreographed. They’re essentially doing the same thing, just mirrored. If I had to guess which music would suit these dance moves, I would have to say techno.
This is a photo where you really need to do a double take. The rhythmic gymnast seems to have lost her head. But she did it so elegantly that we don’t mind the headless monster image that resulted.
This split-second moment looks like it came out of a sci-fi movie. But no, gymnasts are just that flexible. This is another sport that I still can’t believe still makes its way into the big leagues. But hey, there’s something for everyone.
These wrestlers show off their head spinning skills mid-match, and it’s nothing short of impressive. They should consider taking up a side hustle in break dancing. It looks like they already have the skills.
These wrestlers can go far with these b-boy skills if their wrestling careers don’t work out. Let’s hope they both ended this match without any major neck problems. They could always get a nice, long massage, though.
This is New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, caught in the heat of the moment. With a wind up like that, football is going to go the distance. This is the second before the ball left his grip.
This photo not only captures Brady in all his glory, but there’s plenty of action happening around him. It looks like the two behind him are in a full-blown fight. Despite that, he stays in the zone, and we’re right there with him.
Gold medalist swimmer, Federica Pellegrini, is stretching before her event in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The Italian superstar was lost in thought as she mentally prepares for her race. Reportedly, Pellegrini has struggled with anxiety and has a tendency to panic before or even during her races.
She learned to deal with it by employing a sports psychologist who helped her work through the pre-race jitters. She got a massive amount of support from the crowd in 2012, which calmed her nerves.