Sports Photos That Will Make You Do A Double Take
It takes an expert photographer who has been taking sports photos for years to capture that one perfect moment. Sideline photographers can wait an entire lifetime for the best angle of a breathtaking play to get a once in a lifetime image while others never even get that one moment.
For every stunning photo captured at a sporting event, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of attempts. Just because an inspiring image isn’t captured doesn’t mean a very different type of sports genius wasn’t caught on camera.
Some of these perfectly timed sports photos from different events around the world are so ridiculous, they are truly marvels in their own right. See if you can figure out what’s going on in these incredible images.
1. Hide and Seek Champion
This is one of the trippier sports photos to make the list. At a glance, it looks like the top and bottom are the same photo or like it might be three separate images put together.
Closer inspection shows that these are actually eight different judges.
So we have eight judges who are completely engrossed in their work… except one would think that work would include watching the gymnast rocketing through the air. This athlete is executing what is undeniably one of the greatest planking attempts in sports history.
Or maybe it’s competitive hide and seek and this dude’s just crushing the competition.
2. Stud Coming Through
Born Cam McDaniel, this Notre Dame running back may as well change his name to “Ridiculously Photogenic Running Back.” That’s his true name as far as the Internet is concerned. The name change basically took immediate effect after a redditor posted this absurd picture of the student athlete.
Overnight, one rush against the USC Trojans transformed McDaniel from college athlete into the hottest meme (zing) in the nation.
Give respect where it’s due, though. If McDaniel was tackled hard enough to knock his helmet off, he is one bad dude to take it on the chin with a grin.
3. Weightlifting Fail
This fantastically timed image of a seemingly hairy-faced weightlifter captures the moment when the lifter is struggling for that final push… except that’s not a beard. Most females understand this moment all too well. Just mention #ponytailproblems and any long-haired lifter will nod knowingly.
This almost looks like a screen capture straight out of a horror flick. But the “bearded” look is pretty legit.
Hopefully this athlete made the lift, even if she couldn’t see through the curtain of hair covering her face.
4. VIP Section
This surfing picture raises so many questions that will likely remain unanswered.
The first, most obvious question is, “How did this guy get here?” Is he related to Poseidon or did he score an extra ticket from some mermaid pal?
Reasonable follow-ups include finding out if this fan nabbed a seat, or whether it’s standing section. Also worth seeing whether or not the protective bubble surrounding him costs extra? Is the surfer blissfully unaware, or is he about to get the surprise of his life when a hand latches on to congratulate him?
5. The Moment It was All Over
There it is, the look of a man who just realized his life is about to end.
The image is a bit heavy, though not quite graphic. It’s simply a man who felt the wind taken out of his sails just as the blunt force of this dude’s foot takes the air out of his ball(s).
How exactly the player in the white thought he’d be able to kick through the opponent and reach the ball is unclear. But the result is someone who looks like a gunshot victim.
RIP to the family he’ll never have now.
6. Red Bull Gives You… Fins?
Red Bull is on another level with this perfectly timed photo. The company has attained an unparalleled status in the action sports community. In fact, they don’t even need to be the event sponsor to get an epic advertisement pic.
Bad puns aside, “Red Bull gives you fins” is almost too perfect here. The brodie literally looks like he’s effortlessly motoring through the water to get to the Red Bull can. As if maybe, just maybe, one fat can of that sugary intoxicant can makes us gods of the water world too. Red Bull couldn’t have hoped for a sweeter marketing ploy out of all the perfectly timed sports photos at their actual events.
7. A Wicket Spanking
Most Americans consider cricket to be a confusing sport. They may fail to accurately dissect the sport’s crazy terms and confusing rules, but this is next level.
It turns out cricket actually might be the game America didn’t know it desperately needs. The game that shames individuals just like mom and pop used to do.
What did this mystery man in yellow do to deserve such a wicket spanking? Maybe he told the guy rocking the “India” jersey that Mara’s guy’s name. Maybe he disrespected mom and dad wasn’t having it. Most maybe of all, maybe public shaming happens to be his kick.
8. Holding on for Dear Life
This is one of the most perfectly timed sports photos ever taken on a soccer field. The dramatic scene is set right on the pitch for a live taping of “Every Action Movie Ever.” Of course, this moment captures the classic scene where a black hole or vacuum sucks up everything in its path.
Rather than allow the villain in red to die, our protagonist hangs on for dear life as his grip continues to slip. The crowd is frozen in anticipation, preparing for the impending horror sure to follow. Meantime, the soccer villain is sure to fall to his doom at any moment.
9. Swimsuit Malfunction
Someone messed up big time here. We’re talking Baby Ruth in the pool full on Caddyshack style.
Whatever is actually going down at the moment this photo was taken, these synchronized swimmers are NOT about to act casual and try to play it cool. Not happening.
Whoever is on the receiving end of this horrified squad’s shock and disgust can always take solace in the fact that no one really cares what a flock of birds thinks. They’re probably just jelly at how fly the solo peacock looks even though they aren’t allowed to join the synchronized swim crew.
10. Best Seats in the House?
As far as this lady’s concerned, watching her (maybe) husband take a foot to the face is one of the funniest things she’s seen in her life. And you know what? We agree. Sucks for this guy, but not really.
This guy must’ve gone to Michigan, and he’s sitting front row. Therefore, whatever damage the man took to the jaw likely was not a monetary issue.
Theory: This gentleman tried lending a helping hand. The basketball player took it as an insult, so he responded with a swift face kick.
11. GOAT Referee
Any referee who makes it to the professional level of their respective sport can take pride in knowing that they made it. The NBA ref in this well-timed sports photo did way more than simply make it to the highest level.
This NBA official is looking up at the jumbotron to see a reflection of how far he’s truly come. He’s the king of basketball officiating. The Mavericks know it, the Spurs know it, the NBA knows it, even the Budweiser sponsor knows it.
12. Not in My House
Scott Podsednik of the Chicago White Sox is going up to the wall to rob a homer. At the same time, this hardcore fan is NOT having any of that garbage.
Steve Bartman, eat your heart out. This is how a baseball fan really messes with a Chicago team.
All Bartman did was his duty as a fan, though clumsy; he tried to bring home a memory. This guy, on the other hand, is trying to throw fists and get the W by any means necessary. That’s how it’s done.
13. Stolen Mustache Powers
The WWE is built on the dueling machismo of wrestlers. There are countless absurdly melodramatic ways a wrestler can prove himself the alpha male of the ring. Among the many dramatic sports photos taken in the ring, this one trumps them all.
Not only is the wrestler getting choked out by his opponent, he’s actually conceding his mustache to the man choking him out. The ‘stache undoubtedly gives him even greater ring powers.
Public emasculation of one’s opponent is the ultimate power move.
14. That’ll Leave a Mark
There are two very different potential scenarios for how this hockey fight played out. Both possibilities end with very lopsided fights.
The first possibility is that this guy is actually fighting an invisible man. That would make punches much less effective and jersey pulling more confusing.
The second possibility is that this guy just got clocked in the face so hard his head straight up exploded. If that’s the case, he definitely woke up with an ugly bruise the next morning.
Either way, this perfectly timed sports photo captured one unfair fight.
15. Get It Out!
Rumor has it, this picture was actually taken during the original taping of the sci-fi hit Alien. Rather than have the little baby aliens bust out of a person’s chest cavity, producers thought another angle could get a strong response from viewers.
Other film aficionados claim that this was actually a deleted scene from The Exorcist. In the deleted scene, the soccer player on the ground is belting out a classic line, “Get this demon out of me!”
Whatever movie this could’ve been in, we’d watch.
16. How Many Licks?
Okay, there are a lot of perfectly timed sports photos that paint a completely different picture than what really happened. This one, though, is hard to justify. Whoever is guarding Yao Ming is licking his arm pit. No tricks or explaining away the crazy timing here.
To be fair, Ming is 7’6”, so guarding him is a ridiculous challenge. This actually looks like an efficient strategy judging by the expression on Yao’s face. That being said, there aren’t enough techs in the world to give this guy for a move like that.
17. When You Gotta Go…
Even the greatest athletes of all time – no matter how much we want to believe otherwise – are only human. One reality all self-aware humans have to face is that bodily functions are a part of life.
When you gotta go, you gotta go.
Unfortunately for Phil Mickelson, he just happened to have to go in the middle of a round of golf. Embarrassing? Sure. Satisfying? Undoubtedly.
Even Mickelson’s boy in the back is blown away by how satisfying it looks.
18. Little League, Big Mistake
An old adage says that one can only truly learn from their mistakes. That statement couldn’t be any more pertinent to this poor Little League slugger.
“Keep your eye on the ball all the way through.” Coaches can repeat that line as much as they want; some players still don’t follow.
Whether this little guy’s eyes are closed from swinging so hard or the impact doesn’t matter. The result was the same. The only thing he crushed here was his chance at fatherhood.
That brings us to our next point: Always wear a cup; a little discomfort pales to what could be a lot of discomfort.
19. Just for Men, You the Real MVP
Other than being an MVP caliber snake, there’s nothing the Internet loves trolling Kevin Durant for more than his balding. Little did basketball fans know, the Durantula has been playing us all along with another sneaky cover up.
Sports photos tend to reveal moments of truth like this. Turns out that all this time KD has had a full head of gray hair.
Rather than go for the Just for Men and Rogaine, Durant played the long game by picking which he could live with. Apparently, less (hair) is more. Very well played.
20. One More Dance
How this beautiful cinematic moment wasn’t nominated for a single Golden Globe remains one of the biggest sports film snubs of all time. This powerful photograph captures two wrestlers, wrapped arm in arm, in the heat of passion.
You can see the trials and tribulations their relationship has gone through, it’s in their eyes. Hand clenched in hand, head pressed tight against the warmth of his man’s skin. They finally made it to the big time, conquering the world, conquering love, conquering life… or something.
21. I’m Flying!
Something about wrestlers and dancing just fits. These two took their routine to the next level with a stirring rendition of the Titanic “I’m flying!” kiss scene. A Titanic-inspired dance on wrestling mats – how avant-garde.
Admittedly, there are some gaping holes to this scene like the disappearance of Rose’s leg. The costumes take some artistic liberties, with the athletes in Adidas kicks (well, one at least). Shortcomings aside, this is really about the courage these two had to pull off such a stunt at the Olympics. Bravo.
22. Long Jump, Amirite?
Athletes who compete in field events have an unbelievable amount of pressure fall on one single moment. Years of training for events like javelin or high jump all come down to a brief window that lasts just a few seconds before it’s over.
That enormous pressure applies to the long jump, but don’t tell this woman.
“Ugh, great. I just finished doing laundry and now I’ve got sand everywhere.” This is the closest to thing to emotion this long jumper is feeling right here. Honestly, even that seems too passionate for her killer “Are we done here?” expression.
23. Just a Taste
No one takes going out to hibachi restaurants as seriously as this man. He appears to be practicing for the big moment when all 8-10 sets of eyes are on him. He’s preparing to catch some food in his mouth by practicing with a ping pong ball.
Real talk, what is this ping pong player doing? If this is supposed to be some sort of head fake, it’s so bad it’s borderline offensive. If he’s winding up to slam that, then have mercy on whoever’s soul is about to get smashed out of their body by that bad boy.
24. Shredding Some Paves
Introducing the most hardcore and innovative surfer to date.
Surfers usually try introducing new tricks to the sport or adding fun gimmicks to give moves added flair. This guy’s just ditching the board all together. Well, he’s really ditching everything, like, the water. This pioneer of shredding is really going the distance.
But let’s not judge this racer’s highly questionable decision to surf on a motorcycle. Rather, let’s applaud his willingness to do what has never been done before. For all we know, he nailed the trick. Looks like it scored a perfect 100.
25. Boogie Down
No basketball player ever wants to be on the wrong end of a poster, especially in the NBA. Sometimes it takes drastic measures to avoid getting jammed on. Players often go for the hard foul, but James Posey decided on a more honorable alternative.
Rather accept his fate or risk hurting Stephen Jackson, Posey saw a third option and took it – pick his nose.
Game. Changer. That’s some out of this world mind games, Posey’s playing. Jackson went from beast mode to embarrassed with one swift spear of the finger.
26. Pliability Level 100
This photographer has some serious Hollywood skills. This is a perfectly timed picture turned a synchronized swimmer into some sort of scary, hybrid human-sea creature. It’s hard to tell whether this creepy creature has a flexible torso or that’s a look of excruciating pain on her face.
Even the way the legs are turned out from the knees makes it look like the thighs are the tail with a giant fin spreading out at the end. If this is a snapshot from what a spinoff of Human Centipede looks like, we’ll pass.
27. Zombie Uprising
Welp, this is it. This is how the world ends. One second, we’re all laughing and yelling about how one dude bit another’s hand in the middle of the wrestling match. The next second, we’re screaming bloody murder as we watch him transform into a zombie.
It’s often hard to tell how the moments captured in these sports photos happened. How exactly did this Canadian wrestler’s hand end up in his opponent’s mouth? Either someone was sick and tired of waiting so long for dinner, or Canada tried earning a win via decapitation while the ref wasn’t looking.
28. She Literally Put Her Foot In Her Mouth
Hmm, could’ve sworn it was called foot-and-mouth disease, but all right, we’ll go ahead and roll with it.
This photographer thought they were hired to snap some sports photos at a gymnastics competition. Instead, they ended up capturing a medical anomaly.
You have to commend this gymnast. She fearlessly stepped into the public eye – despite not having one herself. She competed against gymnasts with (presumably) both a head and two legs, and she looks fantastic doing it.
29. Is This Thing Mine?
Now this is the spitting image of what expert photojournalism looks like.
Notice the attention to detail this photograph gives to both the athlete’s emotional and physical state. The focus is as much on the swimmer’s perplexed state as it is on this mysterious foot.
“Is this my foot?” She wondered. “Shouldn’t I be in a ton of pain right now?” she asked herself. “Will anyone jump in to save me or am I really going to have to deal with this on my own?” she speculated.
30. How Babies are Born
So your kid just asked you where babies come from. Fear not, turn to this spectacular detailed image that looks like the National Geographic version of sports photos. The depiction of the birthing of a USA wrestler will help clear up everything.
Be prepared to point out to the curious little tyke how babies like this one are born fully grown. Also note that they almost always come out headfirst just like the photo. Other points to touch on include why babies are born fully clothed and where they shop to find the right size singlet while in the womb.