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Cross Your Fingers, It’s Game Time!

Athletic Superstitions


Photo by Braden Callum on Unsplash


Athletes have been known to have certain superstitions for good luck before or during a game or practice. Whether it is a baseball player’s rally cap or Tiger Wood’s lucky red shirt, a vast number of athletes have their own “lucky” gesture. An athletic superstition is, “a certain behavior or action that a sports performer carries out with the belief that these behaviors have a specific purpose or power, to influence their performance.” Athletic superstitions have been around for decades. These superstitions have been known to lead the players to feel a sense of control over the game’s outcome, boost the players’ confidence and bring teammates closer. 


Having certain superstitions can lead to athletes feeling a sense of control over the outcome of the game. If an athlete did or wore a certain thing before a game that they won, they might use whatever they did as a way to feel like they can control the outcome of the game. 


“I feel like mentally if you don't use your superstition or don’t go by it, it will mess you up mentally because you feel like you are doing something wrong,” senior golf player Ellie Jane Riner said.


Having a certain “good luck charm” leads athletes like Riner to feel secure in their ability to perform well. When an athlete has a certain thing that helps them be ready for their game/event, an athlete will have the mindset that everything will work out positively and as expected because of their superstition.


Having confidence in a sport is very crucial to having a positive performance. Confidence can sprout from various areas and aspects of certain things. Superstitions help increase athletes’ confidence because if they have found that their superstition helps them win, they will keep doing that superstition each game. This causes the athletes to have the mindset that their superstition is what helps them win, besides skill and they will have a confidence boost in their ability to win their game.


“If I didn't wear the lucky shorts, I would definitely fall in all my stunts and it would be very tragic,” senior cheerleader Ava Duke said.


Having a certain piece of clothing, for example, can lead athletes to lessen performance anxiety. As Duke said, if she does not have her lucky shorts, she would most likely fall during her performance because she would be fixated on something out of place. The idea of wearing her lucky shorts boosts her confidence in her athletic ability. 


Certain superstitions can either be for an individual or a group. Usually, teams perform superstitions before or during each game. The superstitions can lead to team bonding because everyone is doing the same ritual and the team will have even more in common. This will lead to even stronger relationships between the teammates. Team bonding is one of the most important things a team needs to have for them to perform well. Having superstitions can lead to teammates being closer and growing a relationship with the team. 


Some say that superstitions do not have any effect on a team’s performance. They believe that the superstitions might help an athlete think they might win, but believe the superstitions do not directly correlate with the team’s win. Sports are both mental and physical. Many who deem superstitions as superfluous, feel that superstitions solely aid the mental aspect of their sport, not the physical and skilled aspect. 


“I don't think it has anything to do with the outcome of if we win or lose or if I have a poor performance or not,” head football coach Jason Cauley said. “It just doesn't feel right if it doesn't go like that.” 


Superstitions might or might not work, but in the end, athletes want to feel a sense of relief and security in knowing that they work for them. 


Superstitions are present in many different forms and between many different people. Superstitions play a key role in athletics and between teammates. Superstitions can lead athletes to have a boost of confidence which then leads to them feeling like they can control the outcome of their game/event. Not only can athletic superstitions affect an athlete's mindset but can also have friendships arise from the team bonding over their superstitions. Ultimately, athletic superstitions are athletes’ way of having their own “good luck charm.”

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