Superstition: a widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief.
Superstitions have been around for many centuries and although in medieval times they were popular to prepare for battles, nowadays that battle is on the sports field. Many sports men and women the world over have their own little rituals and superstitions that they believe help them to win. Here are some of the funniest and strangest of current sporting heroes, we decided to stop at 12 to avoid the unlucky number 13:
1. Serena Williams’s Socks
Serena Williams will wear the same pair of socks throughout a tournament. If Serena Williams is on a winning streak, she will wear the same pair of socks until she is out of the tournament. No one knows why she does this but since she was world number one for 186 weeks in a row, it clearly works.
2. Tiger Woods’s Red Shirt
Tiger Woods always wears a red shirt on Sundays. This has apparently been a ritual since Woods played amateur golf. He believes it’s his lucky colour on a Sunday and has a few trophies to prove it.
3. Christiano Ronaldo’s hair
Christiano Ronaldo always does his hair at half time so that he doesn’t play both halves with the same hairstyle. He also will always step onto the field with his right foot first.
4. Wayne Gretzky’s Order
Ice Hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky always puts his uniform on in the same order before a game. He would also drink a Diet Coke, a glass of ice water, a Gatorade, and another Diet Coke in that order prior to game time. The last thing he would do before stepping on the ice was apply baby powder to the blade of his stick. This he believed made all the difference. Gretzky retired from professional Hockey in 1999.
5. Laura Trotts’s Toes
Olympic Gold Medal cyclist Laura Trott has to step onto a wet towel in her socks before a race. This came from winning the World Junior Championship with one wet sock and she thinks that the discomfort makes her win. We think it’s maybe just because she’s really really good at cycling?
6. Goran Ivanisevic’s Quirks
Tennis hero, Goran Ivanisevic would never step on the white lines of a tennis court and he would also make sure he was the second player to stand up from his chair during a change over.
7. David Beckham’s Numbers
Former England Football Captain, David Beckham has admitted to being slightly obsessive with numbers. Everything has to be in pairs or in a straight line leading up to a match. He even goes as far as rearranging hotel rooms so that it adheres to those requirements, as well as throwing away soft drink cans in the fridge so that there is an even number. The former Manchester United star seems to have benefited from these strange rituals as he made 115 appearances for England, many as Captain and also turned out for teams such as Milan, LA Galaxy, Preston North End, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.
8. Neil McKenzie’s Bat
Our very own South African cricketer, Neil McKenzie has a few strange pre-game rituals. Firstly he tapes his bat to the ceiling. This came about when his team members played a prank on him by taping his bat to the ceiling. He went on to score 100 in his next innings with that bat. He also makes sure that all the lights are off and all the toilet seats are down before stepping onto the field.
9. Bjorn Borg’s Beard
Bjorn Borg grew his beard before every Wimbledon tournament and didn’t shave it off until Wimbledon was over. He won in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1980 and you will see he is not clean shaven during any of those years.
10. Jason Terry’s Shorts
Jason Terry wears the shorts of the team he is going to play the following day. US NBA player Jason Terry has a pair of shorts from every team in the NBA. The night before a game, he wears the teams pair of shorts he will be playing, to bed.
11. Steven Waugh’s hanky
Steve Waugh always carried a red hanky in his pocket when he played. Apparently Steve Waughs Grandfather gave him a red hanky for good luck and he ended up carrying it in his pocket for each and every match he played. He was the most capped Test Cricket player in history before he retired in 2004.
12. Rafael Nadal’s Rituals
Rafael Nadal has not one but many interesting superstitions and rituals. He makes sure to cross lines with his right foot; arrives with one tennis racket in his hand; eats his energy gels in a specific way; jumps during the coin toss; takes an ice cold shower; and lines up his water bottles in an orderly line, with all the labels pointing in the same direction, just to name a few. We are not quite sure how he keeps track of these before every game, but clearly it works if he’s King of Clay.
So there you have them, the strangest superstitions from our sporting heroes. Whether it makes them win, no one will ever know but maybe it helps them to believe they can conquer the world!