Athletic Superstitions

 Athletes have a variety of superstitions before athletic competitions. For instance, Serena Williams wears the same pair of socks during each game of a tennis tournament.

Toronto Star

Athletes have a variety of superstitions before athletic competitions. For instance, Serena Williams wears the same pair of socks during each game of a tennis tournament.

Danielle Huizar, Editor

On the day of athletic competitions, athletes are overwhelmed with nerves. They want to perform well for themselves, their team, their coaches, and their family, and they want to showcase all the effort they have put into practice. Before their competition, many athletes take part in superstitions to help boost their confidence.

Although some may think superstitions won’t help, there are a variety of proven benefits. Superstitions could give athletes a sense of control in their performance, which could lower their stress levels. Also, superstitions could boost confidence, as athletes could think that their lucky superstition would help them do better ( Thus, through lowering stress levels and boosting confidence, superstitions could lead to improved performances, so what are some unique athletic superstitions athletes take part in?

In the National Football League (NFL), many players have a lot of interesting superstitions. Tom Brady reportedly takes his receivers to a place with a lot of sun or light and makes them practice throws there in case there would be a moment during the game with unfortunate lighting. Also, when Marshawn Lynch was around 12, his mother always gave him skittles before his games, so now, as a professional football player, he always eats a handful of skittles before games. In addition, John Henderson has his athletic trainer slap him before the game (

Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, takes part in a very unusual superstition, which is wearing the same pair of socks during every match of a tournament. While many people do not like reusing their socks, Williams thinks that it helps with her performance during tournaments ( At Yorba Linda High School, Joyce Lin (12), a varsity tennis player, also has some superstitions before matches. She wears a “hand band thing” that her “best friend gave [her]” and she “wins most of the time” when she wears it. 

Christiano Ronaldo is one of the best and most popular soccer players in the world currently. Before games, he needs to be the last player on his team out of the tunnel, and he always puts his right foot on the field before playing. Likewise, Lionel Messi, who is also one of the best soccer players in the world right now,  also has some superstitions. For instance, before he takes a free-kick, he places the ball down with both of his hands, takes the same amount of steps back, and takes a deep breath before kicking the ball ( Before soccer games, Hannah Bucklin (12), a varsity soccer player, will never say that her team is going to win because “if [she] says [they’re] going to win,” they “will lose.” 

Since running is such a mental sport, many runners have superstitions. In the elite running scene, many runners wear chains to workouts and races. Galen Rupp, one of the best American distance runners, always wears a chain during his races, and many accomplished young runners, such as Cooper Teare, Cole Hocker, and Paul Chelimo, will always wear a chain at races and workouts ( Victoria Campbell (12), a varsity cross country runner, has many superstitions before races. She “won’t tie her shoes before races,” she “wears specific socks during races,” she “only eats pretzels before races,” and she “looks for the number four in her bib or tries to add the numbers up to be even.” In fact, before the 2021 CIF finals, she had a weird number on her bib, but she did a bunch of math to get all the numbers to add up to four.

Before getting into the pool, Michael Phelps, the most decorated olympian of all time, zones out to music in huge headphones to get ready to swim, and he walks to the starting blocks and swings his arms exactly three times before getting on the blocks ( A varsity swim and water polo athlete, Ruby Bittner (12) has some athletic superstitions. Before a water polo game starts, she “always floats in the water under the cage to get some quiet space” and “clear [her] head.” Also, during swim season, she “readjusts [her] goggles three times” before she gets in the blocks.

In the National Basketball Association (NBA), players take part in unique superstitions. Michael Jordan wears his college basketball teams shorts under his NBA shorts because he thinks that they are “lucky.” Lebron James always throws chalk in the air before a game, and he and his teammates have a secret handshake they do before a game. Rasual Butler always puts on his jersey and other clothes before a game from left to right, and he drinks exactly five sips of water before stepping onto the court.

As you can see, high school athletes to professional athletes take part in various superstitions before the game. Whether it be lucky clothing or a pregame ritual, these superstitions help calm their nerves and boost their confidence before games, races, and meets, so they can perform the best they possibly can.