Athletes Bizarre Sports Rituals

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2013 French Open - Day Four

Serena Williams

American professional tennis player, Serena Williams is ranked number 1 in women’s singles.  Can she attribute this success to her strict pre-game routine?  Check out what Serena does before a game….

  • Brings shower sandals to the tennis court
  • Ties her shoes a specific way
  • Bounces the ball 5 times before her first serve
  • Bounces the ball 2 times before her second serve
  • Wears the same socks throughout a tournament (whiff)

Jason Terry playing basketball, socks ritual

Jason Terry

Jason Terry plays professional basketball for the Sacramento Kings.  He goes by the nickname JET.  JET has some interesting game day rituals that he believes have helped him succeed.

  • Wears five pairs of socks pulled up to his knees while playing (he must have some larger shoes!)
  • Eats chicken before games
  • Sleeps in the opposing team’s shorts the night before the game


 NASCAR might want to change their full name to National Association for Superstitious Car Auto Racing, because drivers sure have a lot of superstitions.  Here are some of the top contributors to bad luck, according to NASCAR drivers.

  • Green.   Gaston Chevrolet was killed in a wreck in Los Angeles race track in 1920 while driving a green car.  Ever since, drivers try to avoid the color green.
  • Peanut shells on the race track. This fear stems from associating peanut shells with car wrecks in the early years of racing when drivers would pilot their cars underneath the fan stands and get them covered with shells.
  • Shaving on race day.  Racer “Doc” MacKenzie shaved his beard for his wedding.  The next time he raced, he was killed in a collision.
  • The number 13.  This is a common superstition even beyond the race track.  Often building elevators will skip the 13th floor.

Rafa, Rafael Nadal, Spanish tennis player

 Rafael Nadal

Rafa Nadal, a Spanish professional tennis player, has a routine to get him in gear for a big match.  He claims they are not superstitions because he does them win or lose.

  • Freezing cold shower before the match (this makes him hyper concentrated)
  • Headphones on, music playing
  • Short bursts of exercise in the locker room
  • On the court, he takes a sip of water from one bottle of water and then the other
  • Water is aligned in front of his chair and diagonally aimed at the court
  • Right before go time, Rafa memorizes where his family is sitting

John Henderson

John Henderson, a former NFL defensive tackle, assigned his trainer a scary task before every game.  The trainer had to slap 6’ 7”, 335 pound Henderson in the face as hard as he could before a game.  The ritual would get Henderson revved up for the game.


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