You’d think that elite athletes would be able to rely on their innate talent and ability to give them the confidence that they could come out on top. But it would seem that many are just like the Sunday footballer or casual cricketer who needs to wear a lucky pair of pants or run round the clubhouse three times before each game begins.
It also seems to extend across all kinds of sports and games from poker to horseracing and here are five prime examples.
Cyclist Laura Trott may be Great Britain’s most successful female Olympic gold medal winner ever but that’s not so say that she takes to the track without a peculiar superstition. This goes back to the first time that she won the Junior World Championship when, before competing, she accidentally stood on a wet towel making her sock wet. So now she has to repeat the procedure before every race and continues to cycle with just one wet sock.
Brazilian poker player Bruno Foster has reported career earnings of $1.25 million and puts a lot of his success down to watching reality TV programmes before he takes to the tables – especially when they have a happy ending. As Bruno has said, “The good energy and good vibrations give me more patience and focus to play”.
Frankie Dettori is one of the few jockeys ever to have won every single race in a day’s meeting and is famous for his athletic “leaping dismount”. In 2007 before competing in the Derby he was bemoaning the fact that he had never won the race when the course’s sound engineer suggested that he stick some of his “lucky white tape” to his saddle. Dettori did and then went on to win. So for the 2015 Derby Dettori also insisted he had some of the white tape on his stirrup – and went on to win aboard Golden Horn.
The highest profile player in the Euro 16-winning Portuguese team has a number of superstitions – some say as many as seven. For example he insists on being the only player to start the match in a long-sleeved shirt and must always be allowed to touch the ball before kick off. He also always ensures that it is his right foot that touches the pitch first.
In the world of rugby union the former Scotland, Bath and Edinburgh player has admitted that, “as far as superstitions or pre-match routines go, I must confess to having a strange habit . . . I’ve always done the Bruce Lee kung-fu wavy hands in the changing room before games. I loved the film Enter the Dragon and thought he was really cool, so I’ve been doing it ever since”.
Superstitions they may be, but in all these examples they certainly seemed to have been effective. Below, we look at surprising amount of sports star superstitions that have all turned out to be very effective.