Sports Superstitions

Sports superstitions can vary greatly. Some routines may include certain ways to wear clothing, and others may be pre-game rituals.

Sports superstitions can vary greatly. Some routines may include certain ways to wear clothing, and others may be pre-game rituals.

Lebron James (Miami Heat forward) throws powdered chalk towards the crowd before every game. Michael Jordan (former Chicago Bulls forward) wore his North Carolina shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform for every game. Serena Williams (American woman tennis player) ties her shoelaces the same way for every match and bounces the ball five times before her first serve. Jason Terry (Brooklyn Nets guard) sleeps in his opponent’s shorts the night before a game. Rafael Nadal (Spanish man tennis player) lines his water bottles up in a certain, precise order for every match. What do these players all have in common? They all have superstitions and routines before every game/match.

The sports world is full of superstitions and unusual habits, and many people do not understand the logic behind these funky routines. The truth is that there is no logic. There is no particular reason for why athletes have their odd patterns. They can not tell you why they do what they do. Their superstitions are just that: their own superstitions. They have them for a specific reason which is unique to every athlete, and every sports fan/player understands that the interesting routines help relax the mind and ready the body for a game.

Superstitions are present in most athletes. Many MLB (Major League Baseball) pitchers do not let their teammates touch them if they have a perfect game, and they are not allowed to make contact with the pitcher until his flawless streak ends. Some NFL (National Football League) players ask their teammates or trainers to hit them hard enough to make them pumped for the game. College softball players will wear the same bow or sliding shorts during a winning streak. There are all different sorts of superstitions, routines, habits, and traditions that competitors and sports fans have.

Here at North Forsyth there are athletes with their own superstitions. When asked about what her weirdest sports habit was, freshman Sara King said, “My hair has to be braided for every softball tournament. I cannot play with it just up.” She also stated, “Right before I pitch, I shift my weight back and forth. It is kind of weird, but it works for me.” These types of routines are almost like a sixth sense; most people do not even realize they are doing it. However, “Superstition may provide a means for athletes to cope with stress associated with competition and the uncertainty of sporting events. Superstitious behaviours, therefore, are associated with management of anxiety and building confidence” (The Role of Superstition Among Professional Footballers in Ghana, Superstitious behavior is linked to the psychological side of sports while the
action itself is linked to the physical side.

Even though superstitions are considered bizarre to non-athletes, the sports universe and all its inhabitants continue to perform their uncanny habits. Their routines are there for a reason that cannot be understood by their audience, but the athletes, frankly, do not care about what others say about their superstitions. They like to have that mental and physical balance from their habits. It might be a mystery to some, but to competitors, it is a part of their normal lives.


Biddle, Stuart; Lavallee, David; Ofori, Patrick Kwaku. “The Role of Superstition Among


Professional Footballers in Ghana”. Athletic Insight: The Online Journal of Sport