Superstitions abound in the fitness world. They usually evolve accidentally when an athlete has a good, or sometimes, bad performance and then attempts to establish cause and effect by reviewing the facts of the performance. Formerly inconsequential activities like what they ate or wore are examined as possible connections to the victory, especially if it’s unusual, like baseball great Moises Alou, who urinated on his right hand prior to stepping up to the plate, which he claimed help him control the bat.
Or tennis superstar Serena Williams who said she lost the French Open because she didn't tie her laces right, didn't bounce the ball five times and didn't have her extra dress or shower sandals with her.
If you are a golf fan maybe you’ve noticed that Tiger Woods always wears red on the Sundays of tournaments. I don’t have proof, but I read that basketball legend Michael Jordan never played a game for the Chicago Bulls without his UNC skivvies underneath his uniform.
Wade Boggs never stepped on the baseball diamond without eating chicken beforehand, which is a whole lot of chicken, considering that there are 162 games each year. He also entered the batting cage at exactly 5:17 pm, ran sprints at 7:17 pm and wrote the word “chai” in the dirt before each at-bat.
It may sound silly but research has shown that superstitions can have a placebo effect on physical performance. If you feel your current superstitions helps you with focus and confidence then keep doing what you are doing. When you believe in a ritual, your mind becomes focused and more relaxed. Then you are able to concentrate on mechanics and technique, which allows your mind and body to sync up. Some people call it the zone, which is when all athletes perform their best.
Beliefs are just thoughts we keep thinking over and over again. If you know that peeing on your hand will get you to first base then you probably will get a hit.
Doctors have always known how critical belief is to healing.
Confidence and comfort are key components of athletic success. Being relaxed can allow your mental performance to improve your physical effort. Think of it as getting out of your own way. Sports psychology is based on visualizing all the details of winning as a technique to prepare both mentally and physically for competition and superstitions can free up your mind to do just that.
So go ahead, pee on your hands, bark like a dog and turn your t-shirt inside out if it gives you the confidence to step onto the field believing that you will win. Just don’t let your mother see you do it.
Penny Love Hoff is a health/ lifestyle/fitness coach, with two hip replacements who has over 25 years of experience, teaching exercise classes and inspiring aging athletes who want to get their active lifestyle back. She believes we can all stay younger for longer by taking charge of our own health and fitness issues which limit us.