Rituals to Prepare


Superstitions can be an athlete’s best friend or worst enemy. Over time many athletes who are dedicated to their sport and executing their role on the field or court perfectly, create superstitions that determine their performance.


Superstitions range from wearing the same socks every game to listening to 5 specific songs, in a specific order, while eating that one bagel from that one store; no matter what it may be, it will affect a player’s execution. 


“In volleyball my number is 4, so everything I do leading up to the game, I do in four’s. I bounce the ball four times, throw it four times, and hit it four times,” says Alli Bishop, who plays both club and high school volleyball.


Superstitions can play a vital role in winning or losing, not because they truly affect performance, but they completely determine a player’s headspace when it’s gametime. These “rituals” are something practiced and thought to determine fate, without being acted out how can an athlete believe they will simply play well. With the security that follows superstitions for player’s, the stress and worry is lifted when they enter a game as they feel more comfortable in their skills. 


“The routine helps me focus and get prepared for the game. If I don’t do it, I feel like I’m not ready to play,” says Abby Siess, who plays both high school and club volleyball.


But how are these superstitions created?


“The superstitions develop after I play a good game. I try to remember my routine leading up to the game in order to recreate it in hopes of a similar performance. These also evolve over the years and add up or are forgotten,” says Siess. 


A basketball player wears one arm sleeve and has the game of his life, the arm sleeve created that execution. A swimmer wears the blue swim cap instead of the pink one and breaks records, the blue swim cap made that happen. Once an athlete engraves this idea in their mind, it is hard to escape the security that superstition brought them. 


Kobi Williams, a high school basketball player committed to play at Truman State University says he has 10 rituals before each game, ranging from music to a jump tuck before tip off. 


“I have to do it or it is just not right. My routine makes me feel comfortable before our games, without it I don’t feel mentally engaged,” says Williams.


For better or for worse, superstitions of tying your left shoe before your right shoe, affect one’s play. They can calm the mind while the uncontrollables run rampant in the environment surrounding an athlete or even team.

“If Eleanor [Disper] doesn’t hype us up before the meet and start the pre-meet cheer, it is bad juju. She always yells, ‘BIG DOG GOTTA EAT,’ and it creates an energy we need to perform,” says Annie Wood, Westminster varsity swimmer.


Psychologically speaking, superstitions don’t cause any real harm when at the base level, but if they begin to control an athlete’s day and performance astronomically it can be a problem.