Superstitions, routines that pump athletes to win


Paula Bush

Varsity softball, along with their coach, Mike Pollock, performs their chant and routine for good luck at the start of their game against Green Run High School at their softball field on April 29, 2022.

Kalorra Smith, Co-Features Editor

What do athletes’ routines and superstitions have in common? 

In the world of athletics, routines work similarly to superstitions by allowing them to increase control over their performances.

“I feel that superstitions and routines aid in the chance of winning a game because I think it helps athletes to feel calmer knowing they did their routine or are wearing their ‘lucky socks,’” said cross country and track athlete, Austin Heft.

For instance, an athlete may have a lucky pair of socks that they wear on game days or carry a cherished item they believe to help win a game. Logically, the lucky clothing or item has no correlation to winning, but if an athlete believes enough, it’ll become a routine for game day. 

“I cannot play if I do not have a certain bracelet from my grandma in my pocket,” said softball player, Delaney Ludwig.

According to Psychology Today, routines enable athletes to be completely physically, technically, tactically and mentally ready to perform their best.

“Our team has a very strict routine at the beginning of a game; when we wait to start, we have the same girl draw ‘OLHS’ into the ground with a bat and put a sunflower seed in the middle, and our coach runs through it,” said Ludwig. “Lastly, we chant a traditional Ocean Lakes softball cheer to start off the game.” 

A professor of Psychology at Connecticut College, Stuart Vyse, believes that superstitions provide a psychological benefit that can improve a person’s skilled performance. 

“The day before a meet, I’ll hydrate and carbo-load, so I can use all my energy the next day,” said basketball team member, Jordan Hall, who feels that it’s the simple routines that provide quite the benefit.

According to a Ted Talk by Stuart Vyse titled, “Where do superstitions come from,” believing a superstition works gives the illusion of having greater control over events. 

“When at practice or warming up, we never split trees, and if someone does by accident, we all say ‘bread and butter,’” said Heft.

It is not clear whether or not superstitions and routines aid an athlete’s ability to perform, but preparation and consistency shape the player and their team. 

“Obviously there is no direct correlation from superstitions and routines to a player’s performance, but they do help get a player’s energy and confidence up on the team, which is essential in winning a game,” said Ludwig.