Unbelievably-Timed Sports Photos That You Need to See

By Robin Mei - March 25, 2019

Look Out Below

It’s easy to make fun of any athlete when you catch them mid-exertion. With today’s cameras being able to catch even the smallest of details at the fastest of speeds, the whole ‘sports meets tech’ thing is going to cross paths.

This diver’s face is a perfect example. Considering Olympic athletes are jumping, twisting and turning from a board upwards of 10 meters in height (that’s 33 feet), you try and look dignified (you can’t).

What Did You Say?

No one likes to be caught off guard. But is what we have here a case of the skater catching a glimpse of someone out of the corner of her eye (okay, it could also be a wall or say, a pylon), or is it her doing the sneaking around?

At the speeds any figure skater hits on the ice, you’re going to get the odd sideways glance. Thank goodness they never have to make their arms do what this next guy’s does.

Mr. Bendy

This is so wrong for so many reasons. Your upper appendages are not designed to bend like this. What’s the point of having an elbow if all you’re going to do is turn it into a freak show for dozens of pitches in a game?

With more and more pro players tossing 160 kilometer-an-hour (100 mile) fastballs, the human body has found a way to adapt… we guess. When you’re getting paid as much as these athletes are, we admit it is hard to feel sorry for them.

The No-Shame Athlete

Synchronized swimming is one of those unfortunate sports that has always had a bit of a bad rap. For most folks, it’s the forced, over-the-top facial exaggerations of beaming happiness the athletes involved who you know are stressing out have to make to get decent scores.

For others, it’s what some synchronized teams consider a routine. Flaunt it if you got it, we guess. The rest of us will stick to solid ground and fewer feet on our heads.

A Facer-Lifter-Upper

Forget being a highly trained athlete — it takes real skill to look incredibly bored while you’re in the midst of giving yourself a facelift. Do you know how long people have to go to school to learn how to do this? Sure, not everyone wants to have the double chin added and not taken away, but it’s still pretty impressive.

His look of calm is in stark contrast to that of the next person, who shows the world what his go-to panic expression is.


No! No! Nooooo!!!!

When you’re bestowed the number 0 by the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, the honor comes with certain privileges. An executive parking spot next to the owners’ fleet of limousines. A 15-percent-off discount card good for any arena vending stand (alcohol excluded). And the right to freak right out when things don’t go your way on the court.

This is why this player will never play a game for the Harlem Globe Trotters. He’s just too easy to stress out.

Spandex Buddies

Ah, this is so sweet. It’s not enough that cyclists have to deal with chafing where no chafing should ever occur or that a short ride for most of them is a hundred kilometers, but sometimes that pre-race fluid binge combined with no in-race bathroom breaks don’t mix well. And cue the piddle pals.

That’s what teammates are for. They’ve got you back, and they’ll bend over to do anything for a friend with an exploding bladder.

She Named Her Ball 'Lucky'

For someone who gets to play their sport with a ball while no one else is around her, this woman sure does look like she’s not having any fun. It is understandable she’s not too impressed with having to bend forward like this, but is there any chance she could not have such a look of agony? We’re trying to enjoy our popcorn!

At least she still has a certain look of grace and dignity to her, something most of us can’t maintain pulling on a pair of pants.



That HAS to Hurt

Your hands look like they’re being ripped off at the joint, your elbows are probably watching a timer until one of them snaps and your hair — ah, your hair — has basically destroyed any hope of you had of getting your face on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Can you lift hundreds of kilograms and pounds with your locks choking the air out of you? Apparently, you can. We’re just glad we could see this next athlete’s frightening facial expression.


Dignity is the Only Thing She Couldn't Save

If you could put this goalie’s pose in front of a green screen you’d be able to drop her into just about any horror movie where someone needs to be scared by something that will cause them nightmares for the rest of their onscreen time, you’d be set.

Since this was a real game and this was a real pose, this goalie is going to have to live with the fallout. For now, we’re going to imagine her yelling, “Boo!”

This Is How She Smiles

“Who’s got a little smushy face? You do!” If you’re looking at this photo and chuckling a little, fair enough — it’s the reason we’ve put a lot of them here.

But before you get too carried away, think of what your face would look like if you had to jump from an extreme height, in front of cameras, while judges dissected your every. Single. Motion. While you ponder that, remember this — getting a face like this takes training. Lots of it.




Depending on where you are in the world, this sport is either football or soccer. Alright, let’s be honest — it’s football everywhere but in North America, which prefers their footballers to be dressed like hulking police tactical units. We’re betting this poor fella wishes he had at least one piece of their equipment, though.

For now, the kickee is just going to have to grin and grab an ice pack. And speaking of football, this next football might prove that some athletes are truly gluttons for punishment.


15 Yards for Head Ripping Off

What kind of freakshow is this? To be fair to the Cleveland Brown’s Chris Atkins, nowhere in the National Football League’s rule book does it say you can not rip an opposing player’s head off. It’s just frowned upon, like dating a teammate’s ex or steroids.

For the Pittsburgh Steeler’s Antwaan Randle El, rules are probably the last thing on his mind as he has his helmet ripped across his head. In the rule book, this is face masking. Can you face mask in synchronized swimming? Find out next.

Synchronized Over-Exaggeration

Taking a page directly from the Marcel Marceau book of miming and then butchering it might not have been the intent of the synchronized swim team, but we’re pretty sure the French motion master would definitely be putting up an air wall around these girls.

We have no clue what it is these athletes are meant to be reacting to, but we’re betting they spent a lot of time staring at a mirror leading up to this.


To Each Their Own

Ladies and gentlemen, you see before you an athlete willing to do anything for the sake of competition. To the victors go the spoils, and we sure hope this guy won something huge for even being put into this position. As you look at this, don’t forget: It sweats down there. A lot.

On the bright to all of this, at least he’s not scowling. Then this whole scenario would just be a misfortunate sweat-stained scowl.

When You Do Math and Skate at the Same Time

One of the problems faced by Olympic-calibre athletes is they can sometimes make things look too easy. When you’ve spent your entire life training to compete on the world stage, that can happen. So when some true grit visually comes through, especially in the world of figure skating, it’s hard to not notice.

If you think you could pull off a triple lutz and keep a straight face, we acknowledge your superiority. Much like we had to with these next athletic individuals.

Wave at the Surfer, Everybody!

If you think surfers catching the big waves put sharks at the top of their list of things they really want to avoid while on the water, guess again. It’s actually this guy acting like a human submarine coming to the surface for some fresh air.

It’s cool that this surfer has company out there, but considering he’s probably motoring along at around 16 kilometers an hour (10 miles per hour) we just hope he knows how to steer that board.


Another One of Life's Hurdles

Ethiopian athlete Etenesh Diro was just trying to qualify for her next steeplechase heat in the 2016 Olympics when this photo was taken of her missing one of the more important pieces of equipment for any runner: A shoe.

After a pack of runners got tangled up, Etenesh lost her shoe halfway through the 3000-meter race and tore the sock off herself as she continued to do her best to catch up to the pack. The stadium gave her a standing ovation and she eventually qualified for the next race.

Source: Ethiopian Runner Etenesh Diro Finishes 3000m Steeplechase with Only One Shoe

Right Where I left You

If we had the ability to stand is position and pop our foot up to check for blisters, we’d probably be smiling a little more. C’mon, that’s a party trick that’s hard to beat, especially if you can manage a Jim Carrey-era “Scrooged” face to go along with it.

It never fails that when you think you’ve managed to do something no one else can, somebody comes along and steals your hard-earned thunder, like in this next photo.

How Is This Even Possible?

It’s impressive enough when you can stand still and stretch your leg out to the side. If you make it to the waist, we’d probably give you a trip to Disney World. But stretch out a leg so it runs perpendicular to your body, and manage it while you spin on skates? You win.

Russia’s Julia Lipnitskaia manages that here, sending everyone a polite little reminder that she’s kinda good at what she does. We just hope our previous swimmer isn’t too upset about being grandstanded.


We love it when people really put their heads together to try and come up with a solution — it really does make scratching tasks off the to-do list easier. Unfortunately, that is the exact opposite of what is going on here. It’s like a Vulcan melding of the minds, without all the boring ‘no head smashing’ thing Spock and company insist on.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed that these players’ locker rooms are stocked with something for headaches. Especially for the loser of the match.


(Baseball) Bat Outta Hell

If you’re going to go check out a ball game and you’ve never had the pleasure before, you need to know a few things.

First, something exciting happens about every 20 minutes. Second, bring lots of cash. Some hot dog guys throw hissy fits if you whip out a credit card from your seat. Third, treat anything that comes off the field into the stands like it’s a foreign object you’ve never, ever seen before.

A Case of the Bends

You know if you’re able to lay flat on your stomach and stare at the back of your foot because it’s bent over your head you’re doing something a little crazy. Or you’re an Olympic gymnast, in which case what you’re up to is probably what you like to call ‘Thursday.’

It is astounding that people can bend their body into almost any shape they want to and keep some grace and elegance to it at the same time. This next person obviously hasn’t figured the grace part out yet.

This Is Him on a Good Day

The shot put is not a sport known for its petite competitors. It’s hard to be anything but a Goliath when the thing you have to toss as far as you can weighs over seven kilograms (about 16 pounds) for men and four kilograms (almost nine pounds) for the women. It’s like trying to throw a Christmas turkey — with stuffing.

If your head has to look like it’s going to explode while you do it, we forgive you. Right, everybody?

Run for Your Lives!!!

Are they shocked at just how nasty the grass stains are getting on their teammates’ white shorts? Or do these two guys just take things a little too seriously when they’re on the field and someone is about to kick a ball in their general direction?

What we find slightly odd here is no one in the stands seems to be sharing these gentlemen’s horror. Whatever it is they’re witnessing, we’re glad we’re not.

The Basketball Dance

Basketball has a certain artistic quality to it, at least that’s what our friends who watch the game tell us. We suppose if that’s how you approach the game, plays are going to come up on occasion that could be considered masterpieces. It’s like ballet with a ball.

However, if this is what they want to categorize as one such instance, we might have to disagree with some of their descriptives. Now, if they dunked in Swan Lake — that we’d be onboard with.

Aliens Are Invading Our Swimming Pools

Do you think future athletes would want to get into a sport if they knew what hi-def, slo-mo photography was going to make them look like? If you’re a future swimmer who already has to face the prospect of being arrested on the street for indecent exposure for wearing what you’re legally required to in the pool, you might want to think this over.

We have aliens in the pool and a woman whose sneeze can move earth. See what we mean next.


Alright, it may not be a sneeze, but how cool would it be if it was? None of us would look any better throwing ourselves into a pit of sand after running at it at high speed, with or without the sports bra to help keep things out of the way.

And have you ever had sand up your nose? Take it from us — it’s not pleasant. We can tell just by looking at this picture.

An Unforgettable Face

Figure skaters always seem to have amazing hair. We’re not sure if it’s a prerequisite for the sport to have locks that can flow in time with the music, but it certainly doesn’t ever seem to hurt a competitor’s chances.

The hair also helps distract the judges from the faces you’re forced to make as a result of the gravitational pull twisting your expressions into the kind of things children have nightmares about. ZIt’s the price you pay for spinning for a living.

Anybody Get the Name of That Tank?

This is why baseball catchers never get the respect they deserve. They have to wear the most equipment of anyone on the field, they usually destroy their knees during their career and they always — always — have someone looking over their shoulder.

With all of that, they’re still like targets that some guys love to steamroll as hard as they can. That’s why we like to consider catchers the unsung heroes of baseball. Name us one other position that would stand on their head for you.

This Can't Be Good

It takes a certain kind of person to come to the conclusion that what they really want out of life is to hop on the back of a very angry and aggravated animal and ride it while they rock their best leather chaps and cowboy hat.

There are some people who will look at this photo and laugh, while others might be showing off an expression like the one being worn by the gentleman in this picture (a little hint — he looks very, very angry).

He Doesn't Like Mondays

If you’ve ever woken too early on a Monday morning after a too-short weekend knowing that you’ve got another week of fun-filled days in the office to look forward to, maybe you and this gymnast have shared a similar expression on your faces.

This guy has a pretty good excuse — he’s probably just vaulted off something. You’re just going to be stuck beside the photocopier on the side of the office furthers from the coffee maker.

Don't Let Rick Grimes See This Guy

We suppose it’s an added bonus when you’re playing a sport where you can get a ball that matches your team uniform. In this particular situation, it makes this poor guy who’s taking a soccer ball off the noggin look like he’s just stepped onto the set of The Walking Dead and is getting himself pumped for his zombie-fied close-up.

However this photo happened to come into existence, we take our hats off to the photographer. It’s really hard to capture people in these embarrassing action moments!

The Headless Wonder

Headless gymnasts are the worst. Which end are you supposed to talk to? Say the wrong thing to a foot and they can roundhouse you. Be an idiot to a hand and you’ll get a well-deserved slap to the face. It’s a no-win situation, really. Play it safe and just be nice.

One thing we’ll miss with this performer is the requisite dismount smile. Fist pumps are great and all, but they just can’t beat a good smile/blink combo.

Basketball, Matrix-Style

You know going into a basketball game that you’re going to be seeing some impressive verticals. After all, that net is up high for a reason. But would you ever expect to see bullet time during a live sporting event?

We know, the answer is actually yes to that question, since Matrix sci-fi special effects are now achievable in real-time sports photography. But it still doesn’t explain the invisible man in our next photo.


The Invisible Running Back

Either this player can run so fast he left his helmet behind just like a scene out of an old Looney Tunes cartoon, or this team is not really taking full advantage of having an invisible man on their roster.

We know — it’s poor ol’ number 52’s melon protector that’s doing the mid-air float here. We know that one day CRISPR gene editing will get us that unseeable player, and that’s when we’ll start watching (what we can) of the game.


This One's for You, Baby

It’s nice to see families heading down to the ballpark together. The list of things people want to do together outside of the house in our technology-based world seems to be growing shorter every day, so getting the youngsters outside is always great.

What’s not so great is making a suicide dive for a foul ball while you’re still holding onto your infant child and you’re robbing the home team of an out. Not cool, man — not cool.

So Close, Yet So Far

Anyone who decides that they want to make synchronized diving their life’s focus must be a glutton for punishment. Like many attention-to-detail undertakings, there’s always more that can go wrong than can go right. Here we have one such example.

It could also be that one of these two divers is a little more into the whole practice thing, or is at the very least a lot harder to distract when they’re in the middle of something.

Is There an App for Bat-Inflicted Head Injuries?

Thanks to all of us having phones in our pockets we find ourselves living in a world of electronic distractions. It’s hard not to tweet a picture of that weird-looking bagel you had for breakfast or remind people you’re having an open house for your dog’s third birthday, but these pocket computers can be dangerous sometimes.

Such was the lesson learned by this young chap who almost took a bat to the head while he was reading up on Minecraft.

When Diving Meets Bull Fighting

It takes a lot of bravado to step into the ring with a bull (or in some cases, several angry bulls), but if you’re able to do it AND pull off a swan dive right in the middle of things then our hats are off to you.

If it turns out that this photo is capturing the moment a bull tossed you over its head because you were taunting it, suck it up. You probably deserve the hard landing.