Superstitions have been part of our lives since the beginning of time and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of sports! They are mostly developed by an athlete in hindsight, because a particular outcome occurred (positive or negative) when doing a certain ritual. Athletes especially find it necessary to attribute a ‘cause and effect’ to particular results and they will attempt to recreate or avoid it before every competition.
Some of the rituals can include such things as playing a certain song, putting socks on in a particular order, eating favourite foods on game days or predicting doom on Friday the 13th. Others include growing a beard while winning, tapping the goalies pads before the game, or dribbling the ball exactly three times in a certain cadence before the foul shot. And there are many, many more all different from the rest.
But no matter how silly superstitions may seem, and some superstitions are stranger than others, there actually is real value in having them. If an athlete believes that engaging in a specific action or behaviour will make them perform better, then they probably will. This indeed is a foundation of sports psychology and many athletes use these methods to prepare themselves both mentally and physically for competition. Superstitions also offer a confidence boost and a sense of control over an athlete’s environment.
So you can see why many athletes continue to hold on to their assortment of superstitions as cherished traditions. But deep down, they really don’t actually believe in them, but they are not willing to take the chance, and still must act upon the belief and possibility that it may make a difference in the outcome somehow!
Contact SIRC for more information on superstitions or other sport psychology topics!