Can Superstitions Make A Difference In Sports Results & Fitness? Just Ask The Numbers

Serena Williams | Facebook

There is clearly not just one clear pathway to fitness. Every person and athlete requires a regime tailored to their needs, and every person has their own preferences and superstitions when participating in physical activities. Some people fervently champion how wearing certain clothing or completing a routine in a specific order can make all the difference; while there may not be a vast collection of scientific evidence substantiating why this works, it can’t be denied that the fitness output of individuals can be changed with the introduction of activities borne from superstition.

Looking the part
While it doesn’t matter if a training top is emblazoned with a particular brand or not, some people will swear to the importance of wearing a certain item of clothing when performing physical activities. Whether it is a lucky top that is believed to improve speed or endurance, or a special pair of footwear that were worn when completing a personal best, many believe that performance can be affected by clothing.

While there may be no scientific correlation, much of improving fitness is based on mentality; expert Carrie Cheadle affirmed to the Huffington Post that fitness performance is 50% physical and 50% mental. If a person can be in the right head space because they feel comfortable in a particular piece of clothing, then nobody can dispute the importance of that superstition.

All athletes have their own personalized plan for preparing for sporting events. Many have fixed orders for putting on socks and shoes (in that they put both sock and shoe on the left foot first, not that they put their shoes on before their socks), and others have determined routines for pre-match meals and music. An important question is where do habits end and superstitions begin. Breaking Muscle have considered the relationship between the two, concluding that superstition is the practice of giving special power and significance to habits.

Some superstitions may be as conscious as having to listen to ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk when preparing for an event, while others may have become embedded in our lifestyle without realizing. For example, you may always complete elements of a fitness routine in a fixed order or you may always wear a specific piece of clothing. Tiger Woods always wears a red shirt when playing final rounds, claiming his mom told him it is his power color. That’s why you should always listen to your mom.

Every move counts
Numbers play a huge part in superstitions, from how many times to complete a certain activity to the best time of day to complete a task. Professional athletes cite superstitions featuring numbers as components to their success. For example, Serena Williams bounces the ball five times before every first serve, and that hasn’t exactly worked out too badly for her on her way to winning 23 Grand Slam titles.

23 is seen as something of a mysterious number; Betway Casino’s exploration of the significance of different numbers across the world details how many tragic events have been linked to the number 23. Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times and the Titanic sunk on 4/15/1912 (4+1+5+1+9+1+2=23). If you’re a fan of Julius Caesar you might be wary of the number 23, while fans of Serena may look upon it more favorably. This emphasizes the personal nature of superstitions: every person will have different routines that work for them.

Serena’s methods work for her, with the development of a routine giving sportspeople a sense of confidence and familiarity. In the world of sport, there is a range of uncontrollable factors. You can’t control how your opponents perform and you can’t control the weather – at least, not yet. Stuart Vyse told WebMD how superstitions develop out of a need to introduce some element of control in uncertain situations. Repetition is an important part of all fitness activities and finding a routine that works can relax individuals and enhance performance.

In 2014, a YouGov poll determined that 13% of Americans (unlucky for some) admitted to having superstitions, but many people may have acts that could be considered superstitious that have become so ingrained in their lifestyle that they no longer realize. For example, 35% of Americans claim in the same poll that they would pick up a penny in the hope of earning extra luck. Not seeing the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding is another superstitious tradition that has become accepted as good practice.

While few people may wholeheartedly argue that picking up a penny is likely to have massive consequences other than making you a penny richer, the impact of superstition in sport and fitness cannot be understated. Through creating familiar routines and relaxing the mind, superstitions can train people to become conditioned to success. If they are good enough for Serena Williams, then not even the most cynical of commentators can argue.


  1. Pingback: Can Superstitions Make A Difference In Sports Results & Fitness? Just Ask The Numbers | Fitness Mega Store

  2. Pingback: Can Superstitions Make A Difference In Sports Results & Fitness? Just Ask The Numbers – GirlTalkHQ (blog) | HEALTHY LIVING LIFESTYLES

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