Superstition and rituals are often as important to athletes (at any level of competition) as having the right gear. Little good luck charms and pre-game activities that are part of your youth athlete’s sports ritual can have a huge impact on their mental state and attitude during a game. Even though that particular pair of socks might not have an actual effect on how many hits they get in one game, they truly believe that without those socks they don’t stand a chance. Just about every sports team, player and coach has their own set of superstitions.
For some youth athletes, their sports superstitions and rituals are constant. They listen to a specific music playlist to warm-up, put pieces of their uniform on in a specific order or have a pre-game snack/meal that they simply MUST eat in order to play well. These rituals help athletes get in the right mindset for their upcoming game; calming nerves and making them feel more prepared. Failing to fulfill their usual ritual (running late, forgot something, etc) can put a player on edge because their habit was disrupted.
Think about your daily morning routine? How “off” is the rest of your day if you don’t get your normal morning shower or have to leave earlier than usual? We are creatures of habit and usually don’t react well when something or someone throws off our routine.
For other players, sports superstitions evolve with the game. They start to notice patterns and trends in their playing and fixate on them. Maybe they are nailing all their shots from a specific spot on the basketball court or getting more hits when they stand just so in the batters box. Superstitions can also be negative—a certain field, referee or opposing team spells doom in a player’s eyes and it can be hard to shake that negativity.
Even if you don’t really think it will make a difference, do you still pick a four-leaf clover when you find one? That’s a superstition. Maybe you snag the last parking spot, get a large cup of coffee when you ordered a medium or any number of little “perks” that day—do you attribute your luck to the four-leaf clover?
We would love to hear about your youth sports superstitions and why you stick to them in the comments!