The Power of Superstition
I’m sure that most of us have either played or watched a specific sport that we find interest in. Me specifically, i have played three sports throughout my life and they are hockey, baseball and football. Other than the sports I played, additionally I watch basketball and soccer on occasions. Now, when watching a sport you really don’t get to see the behind the scenes actions of your favorite players. What do they do before games? How often do they do those things? Do these activities help them prepare for the game? There are a lot of unanswered questions that regular people watching don’t really get to know.
Another thing that die hard sports fans may have are superstitions. A superstition is something that you believe may alter the fate of your favorite player or team. Outside of sports it could be something as simple as saying you have a lucky shirt because of the luck that you cross paths with when wearing that shirt. Personally, my superstition is that wearing the jersey of my favorite team always leads to them losing because when I wear it they lose and when i dont they win most of the time. All of this is leading me to my main point, do some of the most prestigious players have superstitions on gameday that make them play better. Superstitions can also be compared to the term pre-game rituals. What do these athletes do pregame to try and better their performance? And, does it work?
Pre-game rituals are anything that you may do before your game to focus yourself or just to stay in rhythm. Put yourself in the shoes of a player who is about to go take the field in the superbowl. Just imagine the amount of anxiety this player could be having which can ultimately affect their performance. There are many techniques that can help calm your anxiety and fear. These techniques would be classified as a pre-game ritual. Another term that is very important is performance anxiety. Performance anxiety is classified as a reduction in performance due to too much stress. Some of the techniques would be if you have a pre-game ritual or diet, you should always perform it before the game. Discuss tips and gameplan with teammates. As Well as even visualizing yourself, your game and your opponents. And just breathing are all some great ways to avoid performance anxiety. So if performance anxiety can reduce your production, and having a pre-game ritual can help lower the performance anxiety, wouldn’t that mean a pre-game ritual will overall increase your athletic performance. I don’t see why not.
Now, the use of prayer is another big thing that you see a lot of athletes doing as a part of their pre-game rituals. But how does it help? If you are religious you may find prayer useful for many things in your life. Prayer is the number one way to get closer to God or an object of worship. There are many benefits to prayer such as to calm their anxiety, to experience gratitude and thankfulness, hear from God and to bring about miracles. Prayer is used to cope with any uncertainty existent in sport. When athletes pray they are mainly praying for the provision of a miracle. Prayer also unites teammates as they all sit and pray to prepare to go into war against the Philadelphia Eagles in the super bowl. The goal of these prayers is to increase the probability of success. There are also players who may pray for god to help them make this 40 yard field goal, although this is not a genuine catholic prayer, it is meant to relieve stress in the player’s mind. God is also motivational for many athletes and motivation will help increase one’s confidence and ultimately lower their anxiety.
For me, I never really used pre-game rituals but they were implemented in my team’s warmups. For football, our team’s ritual would start immediately after school by going to the field house and getting ready for some walk-throughs. Then after our walkthroughs we would meet with our specific position coaches as they would talk over the game plan and address any concerns about the game. After that, it would nearly be game time where we would take the field and do our warmups such as running routes and stretching. After all that we would finish it off with a punt and we all would run to where the ball lands and get hyped up for the game. Coaches would give their speeches and then it was game time. These warmups are meant to prepare us, motivate us and calm us for our game which I would classify as a team pre-game ritual. Other than all of that, certain players may have rituals of their own such as prayer, breathing exercises or anything I stated above.
In conclusion to all of this I hope I have helped you identify what a pre game ritual is and how it affects a players performance in a positive way. Prayer is used to motivate, calm anxiety and cope with uncertainty. Pre-game rituals in general are all meant for players to calm their nerves so that they can focus on the task at hand, which may be as simple as just playing to your maximum potential. Performance anxiety is also proven to have negative effects on players performances so any help to remove the performance anxiety in the form of a pre-game ritual is helpful to a players performance. I hope that this has changed your mind if you believe that pre game rituals have nothing to do with performance because it has a large effect on athletes and if you are one then you should consider having one of your own if you get anxious before games.
Aicinena S. 2018. Implicit Religion and the Use of Prayer in Sport.
Ebrahim, Aadam, and S. I. N. F. Task. “Useful tips to avoid Performance Anxiety.”
Goodfellow T. 7 Benefits of Prayer