Mindset of an Athlete  

Mindset of an Athlete  

Lily Garcia, Writer

Game day is a very important day to every athlete. To prepare for the game, most sports have their own superstitions pertaining to that specific sport. Athletes usually have habits, routines, or their own superstitions, they must do in order to get ready for the game. They believe that if they do this it will help them in the game and win the game, but do all athletes believe in superstitions? Do some athletes look down on each other if one has one or not? Where these athletic superstitions are true or not, each athlete and sport have a different way of preparing for the game.   

Superstitions are something very common in sports as well as in life. All athletes, coaches, and sports have different superstitions based on what they believe in about themselves and have been told. When Amirah Winn, a volleyball player who is a setter from Edison was asked if she had any superstitions and if so, what are they? She said, “I have to hit the ball three times in a row before I serve and if they aren’t good hits then I have to start over.” She also said, “I have to wear my spandex underneath my clothes before every game and have my hair in a ponytail.” Wondering how and when Amirah got these superstitions, I decide to ask her. She responded by saying, “I not sure how they appeared, they just kind of appeared. I also just started doing them in high school.”  Just like Amirah, a lot of athletes have superstitions, they must do before, during, or after the game. Famous tennis player, Serena Williams superstition is that she will not change her socks once a tournament has started. It doesn’t just stop at the athletes, some sports themselves have superstitions so serious that everyone is banned from doing it. NASCAR is a great example of a sport that has several superstitions. NASCAR main superstition is no peanut shells are allowed on the track. Peanut products are allowed but peanut shells are strictly prohibited. All these people and organizations have their reasons for their superstitions, but is there a psychological reason behind it?  

 Believe it or not behind every superstition there is a psychological reason for it. First, you must know the difference between a superstition and ritual. Most athletes have a ritual before the game so they can get their head in the game and many coaches encourage this to help the athletes get focus and calm. It turns into a superstition, when for example, an athlete like Amirah must hit the ball a certain amount of times before serving. Some people believe that superstitions are associated with OCD and anxiety. When, superstitions are nothing to do with either of them or more with the individual mindset. The main reason behind superstitions is wanting more control or certainty of the situation. It gives the person a sense of doing all the can to ensure the best outcome possible. Stuart Vyse, an American psychologist, teacher, speaker and award-winning author states, “Superstitions provide people with the sense that they’ve done one more thing to try to ensure the outcome they are looking for.” Like Vsye said superstitions are more about what an individual believes and gives power to. He also said, “There is a tremendous amount of power in belief.” If anything, these superstitions are more for the person themselves resulting in more positive effects than negative ones. 

  Are superstitions real or not? Most athletes have their own opinions about superstitions, but the real question still stands if they’re fake or not. Robert Cardenas, an athlete at Edison, who plays as a linebacker for football and throws for track and field was asked, how do you feel when people tell you that your superstitions are fake or not real? He responded, “I think that they should keep their opinions to themselves, because they are not the ones playing the sport.” He believes that they have a right to their opinion but can’t speak on the topic if they are not the ones in the games on game day.  

Superstitions can bring people together especially in sports. It can bring union to a team and help them work and be more in tune with each other. In the end, whether superstitions are real or not doesn’t matter. All that should matter is how it makes the athlete feel more prepared and ready on game day. Vyse stated that, “Most of the superstitions people engage in are perfectly fine and are not pathological.” This shows that superstitions help more than they hurt, and it is perfectly fine to have them especially as an athlete.