Athletic Superstitions

A superstition is  defined as the  religious belief in supernatural things.  One of the most commonly known superstitions  is eating black-eyed peas for the New Year to receive good luck. Another one you may have heard of is not “splitting the pole” when two or more people that know each other are walking together. The list is longer than you could imagine, and there are all kinds of variations of them based on culture and other variables. 

In the sports industry, athletes have all kinds of superstitions that seemingly improve the quality of their performance. Athletes can start their superstitions at a young age. This includes specific hairstyles, listening to a specific song, praying, and not stepping on the white line before the game. Some players make up their handshakes to do with a teammate before their competition. There are athletes who truly believe that whatever ritual they may have before every competition works for them and instills confidence in their ability to play, and without their ritual, they begin to feel discombobulated and out of control. Superstitions come out of nowhere. One day when an athlete performs well and they evaluate what they ate that day, what they wore, the songs they listened to, they identify one of those things as the reason they performed so well. It becomes a cause-and-effect situation. From that day on, the athlete identifies that particular thing with their positive performance, and it becomes their ritual. 

When you think about it, superstitions don’t actually have an effect on the game or the outcome of it, but these athletes who have superstitions believe their rituals do have an effect on the outcome of their game and the quality of their performance. 

While the idea of superstition can be unrealistic to someone who does not believe in them, superstitions can actually be beneficial to athletes. They give the athlete some sort of vision and allow them to see their success due to this superstition. While superstition may have no effect on the outcome of their performance, the visualization process in sports is crucial to an athlete’s confidence and ability to perform. 

A superstition allows athletes to feel in control of their performance. For those who struggle with the thought of being out of control, this is a great coping method to feel as if they have a grip on how well they do in their competition. If they believe they are going to do well because of their superstition, then they are more than likely going to do well. 

While athletic superstitions may seem bizarre and crazy to those who don’t have them, they are actually quite beneficial to athletes. They help to give a sense of control and confidence, along with the many other aspects that only the athletes themselves can explain. The next time you watch your favorite athlete play, try and identify what their superstitions may be.