40+ Mid-Action Sports Photos That Are Timed to Perfection

This article appeared in Thedaddest and has been published here with permission.

Perfectly-Timed Sports Photos

As action-packed as sports are, there isn’t time to look at the snapshots right away. The good news is that photographers are at the ready to save a moment for later. Sometimes, they even catch moments that are so perfectly-timed, the photo, in the end, is all the more striking. These are some of our favorite photos of athletes in action.

Watch Out!

Being a talented basketball player takes a lot of passion, hard work, and training. Still, it’s possible for a talented athlete to make mistakes, just like anybody else.

Watch Out!

This particular basketball player might have misjudged his movements here. While he managed to score the point, the price he had to pay was a basketball to the face. It’s probably pretty important to remember that the basket is open at the bottom. We’re sure that something like this had to hurt!

A Powerful Pose

There are certain photos of athletes that capture less than graceful moments. This time, though, the photographer nearby was ready to capture a moment of triumph and victory.

A Powerful Pose

This photo features Federica Pellegrini, a gold medal swimmer. This particular image captured the moment that she won the 200-meter world title in 2019, for the fourth time. The picture shows the athlete’s face at that moment that her hard work paid off. The image almost looks like a Renaissance painting!

That’s Not the Ball!

When you’re the goalie on a team, your job is to defend the goal at all costs. No matter what, you should make sure the other team doesn’t score.

That’s Not the Ball!

This goalie may have taken this job a little too seriously or, at the very least, missed when he was aiming for the actual ball. Instead, he managed to knock another player away from the goal with a punch to the face! While it wasn’t intended, it still looks pretty painful.

How Many People?

This picture is among one of the more confusing sports photos when you first take it in. For a moment, it looks like this woman might have some unexpected talent or proportions.

How Many People?

Actually, this photo shows a pair of swimmers in the water, performing a synchronized swimming routine. Interestingly, this photo also shows us that the practice can look a little less perfect on an individual level. We’re sure the bigger routine was stunning!

Offering Dual Perspectives

Usually, a photographer is limited to a single perspective in sports photos. It makes sense – there just isn’t as much time to set up complicated rigs to catch more than a single camera.

Offering Dual Perspectives

With a bit of help from practical effects, this photographer managed to get this dual perspective. While the fighter himself is taking this kick in his side, the tattoo on his back shows a skull getting kicked right in the jaw. Either way, this looks painful.

Breaking the Surface

Swimmers are pretty impressive athletes to watch in action. Even photos of meets and competitions often show them slicing through the water quickly.

Breaking the Surface

This photo doesn’t quite look as elegant or powerful. As a matter of fact, this swimmer looks a little different than usual. That’s because this photo was so perfectly timed, it caught the image a mere moment before the swimmer broke the water. As a result, they’re still distorted by looking at them through the water.

Stick the Landing!

Have you ever wondered how gymnasts can pull off such gravity-defying feats without fear? Well, for one, they aren’t always without any fear during their routines.

Stick the Landing!

This photo shows as much. The startled look in this gymnast’s eyes tells a story, making this a perfectly timed photo. She looks like she’s worried that she might not stick the landing or pull of her routine as she’d like. We have to say, we’d look pretty terrified in her position too.

Right on the Nose

There are some places that you just really don’t want to get hit. It’d be pretty jarring to get hit right on your nose, it’ll bring tears to your eyes!

Right on the Nose

That’s why we have so much sympathy for this athlete. He was waiting to catch the ball but acted a little too late. As a result, the ball whizzed past his glove and hit him right on the nose! This is something that anyone would find a rough moment and we don’t envy this player after the photo.

Taking Him Down Too

Team sports can be difficult because it requires multiple athletes to work together in a coordinated effort. The result is sometimes stunningly impressive.

Taking Him Down Too

Other times, photos show when groups of athletes aren’t always so poised together. This photo, in particular, shows one player taking a tumble and seemingly taking the other player down with him. As such a perfectly timed photo, this one showcases the moment that the two collided against one another before hitting the ground.

What Happened to Her Head?!

This is among the sports photos that look frightening when you first see it. The good news is that there’s nothing unsettling happening here aside from some notable talent.

What Happened to Her Head?!

This athlete looks like they’ve lost their head in this photo. Yet, all that’s actually happening is that her head is bent this far backward mid-routine. It’s bent so far back, in fact, that the photographer couldn’t even capture it from this angle. The floating effect is just the gymnast mid-jump.

Sliding Safe

In baseball, the batter has two main jobs. Of course, they have to hit the ball and they have to do their best to make it around the bases and home safely.

Sliding Safe

This player obviously knew the value of landing on the base safe was. As such, they were willing to dive in if that’s what got them where they needed to go. Lucky for us, a photographer was ready to grab the perfect snapshot as they flew through the air.

Super Mom Saves the Day

Catching a ball is any fan’s dream when they make their way to a baseball game. Yet, it isn’t an easy feat. If you want to be the lucky fan who grabs one, you have to work quickly.

Super Mom Saves the Day

In photos like these, you can see just how much fans are scrambling to be the ones to catch the ball. The winning prize went to unexpected interference, though. This mom managed to catch the ball with ease in her mitt while still keeping a tight grip on her baby.

An Impressive Contortion

It’s a fact that athletes tend to be more flexible than you average person. Still, we’re sometimes a little taken aback by the feats that they can accomplish.

An Impressive Contortion

This figure skater was pulling off a pretty impressive move when this picture was snapped. Photos like these show how figure skaters can move in ways that most of us couldn’t imagine doing ourselves. Her ability to pull her leg up beside her head like this is astonishing and impressive!

Losing a Shoe

It already seems incredibly difficult to accomplish Olympic-tier track feats. We can’t imagine trying to do this while only wearing one shoe as if it needs an extra challenge.

Losing a Shoe

That’s exactly what Etenesh Diro, an Ethiopian track star, did when she competed in the steeplechase at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Her shoe came off partway through the race but she kept going, one foot bare on the track. In all, she finished the race in 7th place.

Jumping Hurdles

There are certain things that athletes do that seem to defy the laws of physics. For instance, jumping hurdles is something that most people aren’t quite as agile at doing.

Jumping Hurdles

Yet, breaking these usual rules of movement doesn’t always mean smiling for the camera. This picture is mesmerizing because it shows this athlete is giving it her all to make it over this hurdle. Not to mention, it’s a stunning action shot as she makes it over the bar.

Take a Leap

For athletes who play football, tackling and being tackled is a big part of the job. Ideally, you want to avoid being tackled as much as possible, for the game and your health.

Take a Leap

This player managed to avoid a tackle in the most unexpected way. Rather than feigning to the left or right, he simply leaped over the head of the player trying to tackle him. It’s a pretty graceful jump too, he looks like a dancer!

The Aim Is a Bit Off

There are certain sports you expect to be dangerous when you see them like boxing or football. Even sports like soccer can become full contact with the wrong move.

The Aim is a Bit Off

This pair of players were trying to handle the ball when one kick was severely misplaced. While it’s clearly an accident and the kick was meant for the soccer ball, this photo catches their faces in this moment showing their emotions as it happened. We hope they at least got a time out to recover.

Right Before Disaster

When it comes to perfectly timed sports photos, it’s usually right after or as something is happening. This picture shakes up that formula a bit.

Right Before Disaster

Instead of the traditional format for these pictures, the viewer can see danger looming in this photo. Unfortunately, this woman can’t see the pitch coming behind her that’s about to hit her in the head! We hope, at the very least, that she wasn’t too badly injured once the camera flashed and the baseball made contact.

Two-in-One Athletes

When you glance at this picture for the first time, you might think this athlete has an unfair advantage over his peers. He has four arms!

Two-in-One Athletes

The good news is that there isn’t anything fishy going on here. Instead, this is just the result of a photographer who was in the right place at the right time. These two athletes just happened to be standing right in line with one another, giving the first player a four-armed appearance.

A Lot of Feelings

They say that photos can speak a thousand words each and this one sure lives up to the task. There are such a wide variety of expressions in a single frame captured at the perfect moment.

A Lot of Feelings

The cause for this is the baseball rushing towards them. To be fair, that would provoke a strong reaction from anyone! There are faces here that show that they’re excited for the chance to catch a baseball to those who don’t want to get hit and everyone else in between.

Right After Contact

There are few sports where hurting your opponent is the goal. At least, the goal is to stun your opponent with your actions and maybe even get them to tap out.

Right After Contact

That means that full-contact sports like boxing and martial arts can lead to some interesting photos. This particular photographer managed to capture these fighters right as one struck the other. The result shows us exactly what it looks like to be on the business end of a professional punch.

Right in the Face

When you’re playing a sport, you have to trust your equipment as much as you trust your teammates. After all, if your equipment isn’t working, what can you do?

Right in the Face

This player took a swing and, well, he didn’t quite miss. As a matter of fact, the ball and the bat connected hard enough that the bat snapped into two pieces! Even worse for this player, the second piece hit him in the face. At least the photographer was there to capture it.

Shot Put Isn’t Easy

There are a lot of sports where an athlete can compensate for their strength with clever tactics or other skills. For something like shot put events, strength is a necessary factor.

Shot Put Isn’t Easy

If these small balls don’t look hard to throw, check out this athlete’s face as he tried to throw one. From his contorted facial features, you can tell he’s definitely working hard to pull off this feat. It doesn’t look like he’s relaxing any part of his body as he winds up for this throw.

Say Cheese!

A lot of sports photos show the athletes in action. This means they don’t always have time to look up and see the person capturing the photograph.

Say Cheese!

This wrestler didn’t fit the bill for the average sports photo, though. While he was mid-match, he happened to directly face the camera here. We can’t say for sure that he did this on purpose or even noticed the camera in the middle of the match but it’s still a perfectly timed photo.

It Hurts to Look At

There are certain photos that you see of athletes and you can’t help but sympathize. After all, there’s nothing quite like a painful blow when tensions are high.

It Hurts to Look at

If you’ve never been in the position of this athlete, a soccer ball to the face is no fun. This must be especially true when the soccer ball is kicked by another professional athlete. Still, we have to commend the photographer who was at the ready to capture photos like this that day.

This Won’t Be Good

There are times when a photographer manages to catch sports photos that are perfect at the moment. After the snapshot, though, there are consequences for the posing.

This Won’t be Good

In this image, the photographer caught a perfect shot of two players as one of them went to dunk a shot. The photo catches the player in red sailing over the one in white with the latter leaning incredibly far backward. We’re sure that they looked a little less graceful a second later.

Smile for the Camera

These two basketball players don’t look like this shot was taken in the middle of a big game. In fact, their expressions look more than a little surprised.

Smile for the Camera

We’re sure the faces they’re making are largely because they’re in the heat of the moment of the game. On the other hand, they are reminiscent of the faces that a pair of young friends caught in trouble might make. We have to wonder what out of frame caught their attention in such a way!

That Looks Painful

The first time you glance at photos like these, you might wince. When you look at them the first time, it seems like this athlete must be horribly injured for his arm to bend this way.

That Looks Painful

Actually, this player is fine! As a matter of fact, he was getting ready to throw a blistering fastball at the batter. The weird pose in the picture was actually captured as he wound up his throw. In garnering momentum, though, he swung his arm in seemingly impossible ways.

Photo Panic

There are few times that a photograph can be summed up in a single word. Judging from these faces, we can guess that this time, this photo can be summed up into one sentiment: panic.

Photo Panic

The photo couldn’t have been more perfectly-timed by the photographer if they tried. Both players show faces that seem frozen in fear of whatever they’re looking at that’s out of frame. The good news is that there isn’t a monster charging for these guys but there sure is a soccer ball headed their way.

Crazy Control

If you’re watching a quick-paced sport, you might not notice the crazy feats athletes pull off right away. That’s why photos of the event can be so astounding to viewers.

Crazy Control

This photo shows that off rather well. While most people watching this athlete at the moment noticed his rapidly changing position, they may not have seen this right away. The athlete managed to lean so far that he was parallel to the water. He could look at his own reflection!

You Can Pick Your Friends…

There are certain things that athletes do for each other as friends both on and off the court, just like anybody else. This pair might have taken things a little far this time.

You Can Pick Your Friends…

The reality behind this shot is probably the other player jumping up to take the ball from the other playing and simply missing. However, it just so happens that this person happened to hit the other player in the face so it looks like he’s picking his nose.

Call It a Day

We’ve all had a bad day before. However, not many of us have photographers on hand to catch an action shot of the moment for us.

Call It a Day

This particular Yankees pitcher seems like he needs a time out or just to start fresh tomorrow. We’re glad that there was a photographer like this to commemorate the moment. His hands are thrown up in an expression that seems pretty tired. Still, the bat floats in the air in front of him, still suspended before falling.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

This photo has a story behind it. In just the image alone, though, there is a lot of emotion. The tennis player looks focused but he also looks a bit nervous.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

The tennis player in the picture is actually Louk Sorenson, an Irish athlete. The picture was taken at the 2010 Australian Open where Sorenson actually made history. We’re glad that he dodged the ball moving towards his face here because he went on to be the first Irish player to win a match there.

What’s Happening Here?

This picture can look pretty confusing, especially if you aren’t familiar with the game. This is a sport called sepak takraw or, in plain English, kick volleyball.

What’s Happening Here?

The name of the game is fairly close to standard volleyball. However, instead of using your hands and arms, the game’s rules require players to use their knees, feet, chest, or head. With rules like these, photos such as this one aren’t uncommon as players try to keep the ball moving and earn a score.

Taking a Breath

For fans sitting in the bleachers or watching from the pulled-out view of a TV camera, there are certain moments you miss up close. Photographers are ready to catch these moments.

Taking a Breath

This swimmer is easily noticeable as quick and talented. On the other hand, this photographer managed to freeze him in a unique moment. The image shows the swimmer right as he comes up for a breath. As a result, the water he just broke the surface of is still surging up around him.

Time to Move!

If there’s one emotion that this photo invokes in us, it’s worry. It doesn’t seem like this athlete is going to have the time to move before this tennis ball passes through.

Time to Move!

The athlete in the picture is Simona Halep, a Romanian tennis player. One of the things that makes this photo so memorable is how raw it is. Halep couldn’t hide the look on her face right before this ball came dangerously close. We wouldn’t be able to either!

Not Always Graceful

Figure skaters are usually known as one of the most graceful sports to watch. Photos of these athletes almost always show stunning leaps, spins, and more.

Not Always Graceful

Once in a while, though, even these masters of grace can have a less than a graceful moment. This photographer snapped a picture right as this figure skating routine went awry. While we’re sure that these two had a wonderful routine planned for this, it didn’t quite go to plan. It could happen to anybody in their shoes.

Not Quite the Plan

When you go to a baseball game, you know what basic experiences to expect. For instance, you might have the chance to catch a ball and see your favorite team win.

Not Quite the Plan

What you might not expect out of these possibilities, is a bat rather than a ball flying into the crowd. This would be pretty scary considering a wayward bat can be dangerous. This is especially true of a wayward bat that was tossed by a professional athlete. This person could probably stand some ice.

Dancing or Playing Basketball?

There are times that photos in sports don’t look the most graceful. That doesn’t mean that the phenomena never happens and there are some great examples of it.

Dancing or Playing Basketball?

When it comes to this concept, few people can outshine this photo of J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks. While he’s probably dunking a basket here, he could easily be mistaken for a dancer attempting a graceful leap. Either way, it seems like a meaningful moment!

Perfect Timing and Serena Williams

There are few athletes that achieve the same status as a household name like athletes such as Serena Williams. She’s known well for dominating on the tennis court.

Perfect Timing and Serena Williams

Many would say that Williams almost never lets a ball past her. This photo captured that spirit and determination perfectly. While she gets ready for a backhand swing, she’s doing it all in mid-air. The shadow beneath her makes sure the viewer knows she’s really diving to hit the ball.

Break This One Down

Out of all the sports photos taken over the years, some need a bit closer inspection before moving on. There’s definitely a lot happening in this photo.

Break This One Down

First of all, it’s important to note not only the position of this person but their helmet across the frame as well. To make it even more like a painting, there’s even someone in the center, reacting in real-time as it happens. Still, we hope that this baseball player made it out of this okay.

Hazardous Horse Racing

Horse races have long been a staple for sports fans. In these cases, though, the perfectly timed photos aren’t just up to the jockeys and photographers but the horses as well.

Hazardous Horse Racing

This horse obviously decided that it didn’t really feel like racing that day either. While jockeys are trained how to handle a horse that’s being unruly, even at top speeds, this horse still managed to throw his rider. A photographer nearby was able to capture the moment the rider came flying off.

It Doesn’t Seem Real

We couldn’t blame you if your first thought about this picture was that it isn’t real. Actually, it’s completely real and there’s proof thanks to photographers like these.

It Doesn’t Seem Real

The person at the heart of this stunt is Robbie Madison. Madison is a motorbike stunt rider who is from Australia. He’s said that this particular stunt in the Pacific Ocean took quite a while to prepare for – two years in fact! In the end, he managed to ride that wave.

A Stunning Image

Photos of athletes aren’t always as polished and poised as a celebrity on the red carpet. It makes sense – they are trying to accomplish a stunning feat rather than posing.

A Stunning Image

This athlete looks like they weren’t ready for their closeup here but it actually is an amazing picture. The photographer has caught this athlete mid-dive. That explains why she’s in such a braced position and her expression is so focused. You can’t get more action-packed than this photo!

Rickie Weeks’ Bad Day

Adding another of the most well-timed sports photo this time meant an unlucky event for Rickie Weeks. At the time, Weeks was playing for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Rickie Weeks’ Bad Day

The photo shows Weeks right as a pitch came his way. Unfortunately, instead of slamming against the bat, the ball was slightly off-base and hit the player in the jaw. The photographer managed to capture the scene just as the baseball hit his chin. Someone needs to get this man an ice pack.