We have all been in locker rooms seeing our team mates wear the same pair of socks for multiple games in a row, or have even watched the professional hockey players go the entire play offs without shaving their beards. These are all acts of rituals, or superstitions. Being superstitious is very common amongst athletes, and almost all of us at one point in our careers have done something bizarre like this that has made us truly believe it was the reason we had a good game or won that huge tournament.
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Rituals can vary from player to player, from unique practice and warm up routines before a game to the shoes they wear or what they drink during the game. Some athletes have a high belief that these actions they do for each game have an effect on not only the way they perform out on the field, but how their team as a whole does as well. Superstitions on the other hand are a little bit different. These are based off of a “cause and effect,” or so players think. For example: If a player plays well the day they listened to a song to get them pumped up before the game, they will begin to believe that it was entirely the song that made this happen, and they continue to repeat that before each game.
Now my question is: do these rituals really have anything to do with our performance? Some may think so, while the other handful of individuals think it is ridiculous. What sports psychology suggests is that if an athlete believes that what they did before a game is going to make them have a great game, they are most likely going to perform that way. Superstitions and rituals are simply just athletes’ lucky charms that really inspire them and motivate them to do well during their match. If you are to miss doing your ritual before one game, it does not mean you are going to play terrible. Now, if that is the case, it is most likely because you are thinking about how you are going to have a bad game because you skipped your ritual, and the psychological factor goes back into play; if you think you are going to play bad, you probably will.
Superstitions are also called “blind belief”. If doing a certain warm up before a game brought us great luck that one time, it is said that our belief and faith in doing it before every game now is what brings us that luck time after time. Many superstitions are really just acts of misfortune or luck; not necessarily a real thing. So, while the outcome of your game is not directly affected by your specific rituals or superstitions, it can boost your confidence as an athlete. Now why is this? The answer: because these act as a placebo, therefore increasing your chances of having a good game, and in turn you continue to believe in your rituals.
Now, I am not saying that you should not continue to have your own belief in superstitions, but do not let it have a negative impact on your game if you don’t wear those lucky socks. Let your own skill and performance shine, and do not lean on luck to give you a good game; you can do it all on your own. At the end of the day however, not only do you as an athlete do this to comfort yourself and calm your nerves before a match, but your fans enjoy watching you do rituals. And as Lewis, a huge sports fan said, “For some it has meaning and for others it’s simply fun, but for most it’s just sports.”