Superstitions in sports: How athletes from all levels find success through rituals

Erik Rees

More stories from Erik Rees


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Another famous athlete with quite a few superstitions is Tennis star Serena Williams. Some of her pre-game rituals include bringing her shower sandals to the court and tying her shoelaces in a specific way.

While a football player puts on the same socks they’ve worn since freshman year, a hockey player across the county reminds themselves to eat three peanut butter sandwiches prior to every game. Superstition, the belief in supernatural things, is a sphere of life that many partake in, yet few like to admit. In the realm of sports, athletes find themselves clinging to these bizarre routines in an attempt to benefit their play.
Since the beginning, superstitions have always played a role in the sports world. Throughout different professional sports, celebrity athletes have become known for their infamous rituals. Six time NBA champion and legend of the game Michael Jordan was notoriously known for wearing his baby blue, University of North Carolina basketball shorts beneath his professional uniform. MLB Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. once got rid of a new car that he bought because of the slump that he was in during the short time he owned it. Tom Brady, longtime quarterback of the NFL’s New England Patriots and now Tampa Bay Buccaneers, still suits up for games in the same pair of shoulder pads he has worn for nearly the last three decades, dating all the way back to his college days. Whether it’s basketball, baseball or football, even the most professional athletes have demonstrated particularly one of a kind routines to give themselves any advantage that they can.
This doesn’t mean superstitions are purely exclusive to the professionals, however. Usually, these odd habits begin to develop at a younger age. Nathan Krauzlis, junior and varsity baseball player, eats a full Snickers bar before every single game. “It’s something I’ve been doing for a while,” Krauzlis said. “I never feel the same when I don’t get the chance to eat one.”
At the same time, some superstitions get even weirder. Andrew Schell, junior on cross country, finds himself wearing the same pair of socks before every meet. “I don’t know exactly what it is, but I feel lighter on my feet when I wear them,” Schell said. “I’ve noticed that I tend to not place as well on days where I choose to wear a different pair of socks.”
It doesn’t stop there. Junior Connor Mucchetti, varsity soccer player, says that plenty of his teammates take part in distinct superstitions. “Sometimes I even kiss the grass just before the referee blows the whistle,” he said. “I even make sure to put my right cleat on first, just because it’s my dominant foot.” While he’s not sure if it really helps his game, Mucchetti hopes to keep any luck on his side.
It’s fair to say that the truth behind superstitions will never really be uncovered. While there is some reasoning behind the saying “Look good, feel good, play good”, some superstitions in sports are downright crazy. Whether you believe in these odd rituals or not, athletes all across the globe feel the need to satisfy their pre-game habits in an effort to get an upper hand on their opponent.