Athletic Superstitions

It’s common to see athletes performing ritual movements before the competition and stories of the baseball player with lucky socks or the track star with their lucky bracelet. To the onlooker, it may seem silly and strange, but in sports, superstition and rituals are widespread and a fairly common practice. In fact, for some players, these patterns may actually influence their success during competition. These rituals range from the clothes they wear to the foods they eat or drink, the warm up they perform or even the music they listen to. For sophomore Jessica Walker, her go to meal is pasta.

“I guess it’s just something I’ve always done. I don’t like eating a big meal before I compete anyways, so pasta was what I started eating,” Walker says.

Superstition is generally something that is initially developed in hindsight. Almost by accident and then required in future events. A superstition arises when an athlete has a good performance and then tries to establish “cause and effect” by reviewing the facts for the day. They will notice things like what they ate or wore and they’ll notice anything unusual that happened such as getting a haircut, or hearing a certain song. Freshman Courtney Christ believes that a bracelet given by her brothers roommate has helped her set new records.

“It’s the Kenyan flag and everyone on the NC State team has it. Ever since I’ve started wearing it I’ve set new personal records,” Christ says.

Sophomore Brooklyn Blake, captain’s spit is good luck.

“I have to have them spit on my goalie gloves before every game because it helps create traction and it makes the ball easier to catch,” Blake says.

Perhaps the real value in all athletic superstition and rituals are the boost of confidence and the sense of control that they provide an athlete. If they believe that doing a specific action will make them perform better, then they probably will. Many athletes use rituals to recreate a successful day and experience the feelings they had then as though they are happening now. This prepares them both mentally and physically for competition.