Superstitions and Pre-performance routines

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Superstitions are used in daily life; such as not walking under a ladder or not breaking a mirror, some people believe by doing so will lead to bad luck. This is can be seen in high level sport as some Athletes believe their superstitions will put them in a better position to win every time. For example, Michael Jordan (a graduate of North Carolina) always wore his blue North Carolina shorts under his Bulls uniform for good luck. In contrast to this, some Athletes also use “pre performance routines”, which Sport Psychologists believe to be beneficial to performance to get Athletes in the zone and ready to compete. A well-known example is Jonny Wilkinson’s pre kick routine which he used in the 2003 Rugby World cup, when England won!!

We caught up with some of our clients to ask them if they had any ‘pre performance routines’ and superstitions, and how they impact on their lives and performance on the track.

 

Margret Adeoye (100m/200m/400m)

  1. What type of personality do you believe you have; introvert or extrovert?

I have an introvert personality, because I don’t like people shouting at me before a competition because, I motivate myself internally keeping myself to myself.

  1. Do you believe you have a pre performance routine or superstition?

Yes, I do have a pre performance routine. A couple hours before my race, I would go out on the track and take in the atmosphere and walk around. Then I would start my jog drills and stretch. Then I would start my block starts and try and replicate a good start over and over again.

  1. Which one do you believe is more beneficial to your performance and why?

My pre performance routine as nothing can disrupt it, because I will always have time to plan in my pre performance routine. I did have a superstition where I would eat Chinese the night before a competition. This started when I went for a Chinese the night before a competition and ran a PB, then I did the same thing again and ran another PB.

  1. Have these rituals ever changed?

My Chinese superstition changed when I started training with Linford Christie who made me stop.

  1. Out of the competitions you have competed in, which competition was most stressful?

I’d have to say Birmingham 2013 UK national champs. I was running the 400m a new event for me. I had also been injured since April and haven’t competed that year. It was also a late call on Wednesday for me to run the 400m on the coming Friday with no tactics for how I was going to run it.

  1. Can you try to remember how or what you’re pre performance routine or superstition came from?

My pre performance routine came from my coaches helping me feel less nervous and my superstition came from me eating a Chinese the night before a race and then running a PB.

  1. What do you think would happen if you don’t perform you’re pre performance routine or superstition?

When I used my superstition if I didn’t do it I would start panicking. While if I didn’t do my pre performance routine I wouldn’t feel ready to compete.

 

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Nathan Douglas (Triple Jump)

  1. What type of personality do you believe you have; introvert or extrovert?

If I had to choose I’d say I’m naturally introvert and shy in certain situations. But, I’d also say I do have some extrovert qualities depending on the situation.

2.Do you believe you have a pre performance routine or superstition?

I definitely have a pre performance routine, but I don’t think I have a superstition because I see a superstition as a weakness. What if I couldn’t do my superstition for whatever reason? It could give me anxiety if I rely on it to perform at my best.

My pre performance routine is before stepping on the runway, I must clear my mind to make sure I’m not distracted and then I can jump. If I don’t clear my mind before I jump, then I might not perform as well as I could.

  1. Which one do you believe is more beneficial to your performance and why?

My pre performance routine; because I won’t be physically and mentally ready without doing my routine.

  1. Have these rituals ever changed?

My pre performance routine has remained the same due to it being beneficial to my training and competitions, like I say I have to prepare for the jump and get myself focused.

  1. Out of the competitions you have competed in, which competition was most stressful?

none

  1. Can you try to remember how or what you’re pre performance routine or superstition came from?

My pre performance routine came from myself and was approved by my coach.

7.What do you think would happen if you don’t perform you’re pre performance routine or superstition?

If I didn’t use my pre performance routine, I couldn’t prepare for my event properly and would most likely not perform as well as I could.

 

 

competes during the xxxx at the 10th IAAF World Athletics Championships on August 9, 2005 in Helsinki, Finland

Christian Malcolm (200m/200m)

1.What type of personality do you believe you have; introvert or extrovert?

I’d say I’m extrovert socially but, depending on my personal feeling I could also be introvert when in competition.

2.Do you believe you have a pre performance routine or superstition?

I have a superstition of wearing a gold chain and pinning the clasp of the chain to back on my jersey so it won’t get in the way when I run.

  1. Which one do you believe is more beneficial to your performance and why?

I’d go for a superstation rather than a pre performance routine because I don’t have a pre performance routine.

  1. Have these rituals ever changed?

No my superstition has always been the same with the chain, if I didn’t do my superstation I wouldn’t run as well.

  1. Out of the competitions you have competed in, which competition was most stressful?

Melbourne 2006, I was coming back from a hamstring problem that was bad. However, Helsinki 2005 was the worst, as I was concerned with something outside of sport and not the preparation for the event.

  1. Can you try to remember how or what you’re pre performance routine or superstition came from?

I guess it was me trying to be smart by moving the clasp to the back on my jersey so it didn’t get in the way. Also my superstition came from a significant other in Michael Johnson who did the same thing with the chain.

7.What do you think would happen if you don’t perform you’re pre performance routine or superstition?

By doing my superstition it would be the final dot on the I, I wouldn’t feel complete or ready to compete without doing it.

  1. From retiring from the sport do you still have you’re pre performance routine or superstition?

I don’t use my old superstition because I no longer compete. But, I do have a superstition where I always take my socks off when I’m in bed and not before.

 

 

 

24 Sep 2000: Katharine Merry of Great Britain in action in the Womens 400m Semi-Finals at the Olympic Stadium on Day Nine of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport

Katharine Merry (400m)

  1. What type of personality do you believe you have; introvert or extrovert?

I believe I am somewhere in between. I’d say I’m introvert when listening to people and extrovert when I’m working and I have to be outgoing.

  1. Do you believe you have a pre performance routine or superstition?

I don’t have a pre performance routine but I do have a superstition, it was when I won by medal in the Sydney Olympics. I would consciously wear the same spikes, socks and running attire from the heats to the final. I did this because I didn’t want to change anything when I started performing well in the heats.

  1. Which one do you believe is more beneficial to your performance and why?

In the Sydney Olympics my superstition was more beneficial to my performance. However, this was a one off and I didn’t use a superstition after this. But if I had to choose I’d say Superstition.

  1. Have these rituals ever changed?

I was able to adapt to change, so when I used a ritual it was to adapt to situations I was put in.

  1. Out of the competitions you have competed in, which competition was most stressful?

Sydney Olympics due to the magnitude of the occasion.

  1. Can you try to remember how or what you’re pre performance routine or superstition came from?

My parent’s maybe, with silly ones like not walking under a ladder, which you could argue is common sense.

  1. What do you think would happen if you don’t perform you’re pre performance routine or superstition?

I don’t think anything would change, I hope anyway I don’t think it would help me to put my success and failure on doing a superstition or not. Although in Sydney it made me feel more comfortable and I didn’t want to curse myself when I was running.

  1. From retiring from the sport do you still have you’re pre performance routine or superstition?

No

 

 

 

iwan-thomas-british-record-400m-423687

Iwan Thomas (400m)

1.What type of personality do you believe you have; introvert or extrovert?

I’d say I’m extrovert socially and when I’m trying to get in the head of my rivals and psych them out. I’m also introvert maybe an hour before an event.

2.Do you believe you have a pre performance routine or superstition?

I have a superstition where I always put my left leg in my trousers before my right leg and put my left shoe on first before my right. I also have a lucky charm given to me by my grandad which I would wear when I race.

I would also have pre performance routine with my warm up routine which remained  the same throughout my career. An hour before the event I’d go for a jog for two laps. Then do some dynamic and static stretching. Then do some strides getting my body warm. I would also listen to prodigy ‘fire starter’ during my warm up.

3.Which one do you believe is more beneficial to your performance and why?

Without my pre performance routine I wouldn’t be able to prepare myself properly to compete and wouldn’t perform as well as I could.

  1. Have these rituals ever changed?

My rituals have always remained the same. I’m very superstitious as I never train in lane two, because I never wanted to come second and I associate lane two with second place.

  1. Out of the competitions you have competed in, which competition was most stressful?

All of them really, but if I had to choose then I’d say the European champs in 1998 because I messed up tactically at the competition before.

  1. Can you try to remember how or what you’re pre performance routine or superstition came from?

Me really, I made it up by myself.

7.What do you think would happen if you don’t perform you’re pre performance routine or superstition?

I would feel physically no difference but psychologically I would feel under prepared but it wouldn’t make that much of a difference to me, with both my pre performance routine and superstition.

  1. From retiring from the sport do you still have you’re pre performance routine or superstition?

Yes, I still use my trouser leg superstition putting my left trouser leg in before my right and putting my left shoe on before my right.

 


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