Turk Wendell a former Cubs and Mets reliever use to brush his teeth and chew licorice between every inning to perhaps enhance his taste and performance for each pitch.
Former Red Sox and Yankees’ player Wade Boggs was often referred to as the “Chicken Man” because he ate chicken habitually before every game and would also start wind sprints exactly 16 minutes before each game.
Frank Viola, a three-time MLB all-star and former Cy Young winner had a secret to his success on the mound. He would clean the mound before every inning, kicking up dirt exactly four times. However, if something bad happened, he couldn’t do it in repetition of four’s any more, instead he would try three or five.
Even the most talented of players had their own comforting superstitions. Of course, there was Michael Jordan who religiously wore his North Carolina Tarheel shorts underneath his real game shorts.
Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra gets dressed the same way every day, makes sure to step on each dugout step with both feet, and tugs at his batting gloves and taps his toes during each at-bat. Do superstitions give athlete a perfomance edge?
Elizabeth Quinn at About.com writes:
Superstition is generally something that is initially developed in hindsight, almost by accident and then required in future events. A superstition arises when an athlete has a particularly good (or bad) performance and then tries to establish "cause and effect" by reviewing the facts of the day. They will notice things like what they ate or wore and they'll notice anything unusual that happened such as getting a haircut, receiving a gift or hearing a certain song. If they have a great performance they attribute their success to that unusual circumstance and attempt to recreate it before every competition.So, maybe religion works the same way in people who want to believe that prayers work, or talking to their gods, saints, or when they think that people are praying for them that things will be good in their lives. The beliefs keep them afloat. Psychologically, is this a good thing? For many, maybe it is because some just can't get through life thinking they are on their own. So many do not have the faith in themselves to accomplish even everyday things or to reach their goals on their own accord.
Perhaps the real value in superstition and ritual is the boost of confidence and the sense of control that they provide an athlete. If you believe that doing a specific action or behavior will make you perform better, then you probably will perform better. This is the foundation of sports psychology. Many athletes use rituals such as visualization or guided imagery, to recreate a particularly successful race and experience the feelings they had then as though they are happening now. This recall and visualization prepares them both mentally and physically for competition.
It's also comforting for many people to believe that something greater is in control of their lives, whether it be some invisible omniscient being, or some magical ritual they themselves perform. Human beings are quite inventive with their coping devices they create for themselves.
Though most of you who visit here have given up, or have never had god beliefs, do you still cling to some sort of superstitious thinking?