Unique pre-game rituals are key to athletic performances

Tying his shoes before his race, senior Adam R. mentally prepares to compete. “I tie my shoes in a certain way. Most of the time people go around the little bunny ears once, but I put it around twice,” Adam said. “They call it a runner’s knot.”

Becca M.

Butterflies flutter in your stomach, your adrenaline rushes, and you wait to hear the blow of the ref’s whistle to start the game. Let’s rewind for a second and think. What has led you up to this moment and prepared you for competition both mentally and physically?

Pre-competition routines are often the key to an athlete’s performance, whether it’s on the basketball court like senior Adam R., or on the baseball field like sophomore Daniel W. Everyone has his or her own way of coping with those pre-game jitters.

For junior Ruth B., preparation begins the day before a competition as she packs her bags and sets everything out so she doesn’t have to get up early.

“When I lay everything out, I fold it up very nicely. One side of my bag is for shoes and ankle braces, and the other side is for clothes for afterwards,” Ruth said.

Like many others, Adam also prepares the day before by not eating any junk food and watching inspirational sports video highlights.

In addition to Ruth’s preparation the day before, she stays focused on the way to every competition by sitting in the front of the bus, not talking to people, and listening to music. She said these are all keys to her success.

“I think that talking to people gets my focus away from a sport,” Ruth said.

Likewise, Daniel also has a routine he goes through before his baseball games so he can be prepared both mentally and physically.

“I usually take a shower, listen to music, and I’ll show up to the field way before anyone else does, like an hour early,” Daniel said. “I show up in my jersey top, my shorts, my sandals, and I just get dressed there. I like to get mentally focused.”

For Adam and Ruth, right before they go on the court for a game, they always pray during the National Anthem and when they shake the opponents’ hands.

“I pray before everything, like even during tests I pray that He will get me through this. Playing sports for God is just something that I do,” Ruth said.

While many athletes follow specific routines, others believe that superstitions can influence how they perform. For Daniel, baseball season is filled with superstitions.

“In baseball, if you step on the chalk, I believe that it’s bad because it brings bad luck. When I was younger I stepped on the chalk a lot,” Daniel said. “I used to mess it up, and one game I played really bad after I did that. If the chalk looks neat then I’m going to play well.”

Sometimes athletes’ superstitions relate to what attire they wear during their competitions. This is the case for Adam.

“For basketball I wore the same pair of socks for games. They are red and black Nike Elite socks that I like,” Adam said. “The first game I wore the socks and I did well, so I kept doing it.”

Similarly, Ruth ensures her uniform is tucked in neatly and her hair is done a certain way. All of these superstitions and routines can contribute to how well an athlete competes.

“I think having a routine affects how you will play, but superstitions are just a mind game. You need to prepare yourself for what is to come in the game,” Ruth said. “If your mind is in the game, I think you will play better.”