A lot of people have strange superstitions – stepping on a plane with a certain foot first, refusing to step on a crack due to some silly rhyme, etc. No one knows quite why, but there are some things that we must do a certain way, just because. Sports stars are definitely not immune to this.
Despite being incredibly skilled at what they do, many sports stars have some pretty strange superstitions that they rely on to get them through game after game. It’s not because they don’t put in the time training – they definitely do. While their superstitious behaviors likely have absolutely no impact on their athletic performance, they just can’t help themselves. They need to uphold their silly superstitions, or they fear they’ll screw up in some way on the court. And let’s face it – in the world of professional sports, the stakes are pretty high. No athlete wants to lose an important game, either individually or for their team. So, they keep on with their little quirks before games to ensure that everything goes according to plan.
Do these sports superstitions actually work? Who knows – you’d have to ask the athletes themselves. Regardless, here are 10 athletes and their strange superstitions.
10. Turk Wendell’s tooth necklace
A lot of athletes have superstitions tied to a certain piece of clothing – a pair of socks that they refuse to wash during tournaments, a certain color of hat that they must wear… basically, some piece of clothing that they need to incorporate in some way to be on their A game. Turk Wendell takes things to a whole different level. His superstitious piece of clothing is a necklace. Sounds innocuous enough, right? Well, if you don’t count the fact that Wendell’s necklace is made out of real teeth from animals he has hunted and killed. It makes sense, in a way – athletes are trying to dominate the competition and show they are the strongest, the most fierce, on the court. But still… pretty weird.
9. Michael Jordan’s college shorts
Michael Jordan is one of the biggest names, and will probably always be one of the biggest legends, in basketball. A guy who was basically the face of the NBA in the 1990s, and achieved a huge amount of success, wouldn’t need superstitions to perform on the court, right? Well, Jordan had one – and it’s pretty memorable. As most people who know anything about Jordan know, he played college ball at the University of North Carolina. He wore a certain pair of Carolina shorts to an NCAA championship, and they became his lucky shorts. Unfortunately, he had to don his Chicago Bulls uniform in the NBA – however, Jordan found a loophole. He wore his college shorts underneath his uniform shorts for luck. His superstition even helped change the basketball uniform – he wore longer shorts to cover his under-shorts, and the hemlines on men’s basketball shorts eventually went down a few inches from mid-thigh (cringe!) to knee-length.
8. Wayne Gretzky’s stick
An athlete’s equipment is a crucial part of their game – they lug it to and from games, they practice with different types to find the best fit for their skills, test out hundreds. For many professional athletes, their equipment essentially becomes an extension of their own body. For hockey players, the stick is unquestionably the most important piece of equipment they use, and many want sole control of this important instrument. Gretzky was no different. He didn’t care who touched or taped his stick – his superstition was far stranger. Before skating out on the ice, he dipped his stick in baby powder. When asked, he simply stated that “it’s essentially a matter of taking care of what takes care of you.” He treated that stick with TLC and it treated him pretty damn well too.
7. Alexander Ovechkin’s game
Everyone knows that a lot of young, successful sports stars don’t exactly have trouble finding a woman who wants to spend a bit of time with them. They’re fit, they’re famous, they can take their ladies out on the town, and most of them are pretty fun. Alexander Ovechkin, one of the biggest names in the NHL today, incorporates his courtship into his superstitions. How, exactly? Well, while a lot of coaches try to ban players from engaging in amorous activities before an important game, they better not restrict Ovie’s activities – he finds he plays his best when he can get a little something both before and after the game. He’s definitely got game – both on and off the court.
6. Brian Urlacher’s cookies
Most big, beefy NFL players chow down on protein before games – chicken breast, steak, salmon, you name it. They’ll get some protein and carbs before they head onto the field to perform their best. Urlacher has a different kind of pre-game meal, and he’s very superstitious. This cookie monster eats two chocolate chip cookies before every single game. Not one, not three – two. It has to be two, and it can’t be any different type of cookies. Hey – he’s doing alright so far, so I guess a little dessert never hurt anyone. The only question is this – why on earth hasn’t he gotten a sweet sponsorship deal from Mrs. Fields?
5. Jason Terry’s enemy shorts
Basketball star Jason Terry probably owns countless articles of clothing for the team he plays on. However, should he get traded, he’ll already get a jump start on suiting up for his new team – he has a pair of shorts for every NBA team. It’s not because he’s an ever-prepared boy scout – they’re part of his strange superstition. You know the saying about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer? Well, Jason Terry takes that saying pretty seriously. On the night before a game, he sleeps in the shorts of the opponent he’s playing the next day.
4. Wayne Gretzky’s hydration routine
Wayne Gretzky is pretty much undisputedly the biggest name in hockey. Even though he’s retired, he still maintains the moniker ‘The Great One.’ A player this skilled might not need superstitious good luck behaviors, but he certainly had them. One of Gretzky’s renowned superstitions was his hydration order. He would drink a diet coke, a glass of cold water, a Gatorade, and another diet coke, all before going out on the ice. He couldn’t reverse the order, he couldn’t leave anything out – this was how he hydrated and played his best. Something about the combination of caffeine and electrolytes, perhaps? Either way, any young hockey player reading about Gretzky likely tried out his superstitious hydration at some point in hopes of playing like Wayne.
3. Sidney Crosby’s taped stick
Again with the superstitions tied to hockey players’ sticks! Crosby is one of the biggest names currently playing in the NHL, and will likely continue to achieve enormous success for years to come. Just like Gretzky, he’s pretty particular about his stick. Crosby’s superstition is that he needs to be the one to tape his own stick – not the equipment coach, not another player, it needs to be his own handiwork. If anyone touches his stick after it’s been taped pre-game, he rips it off and starts again – it needs to enter the game totally fresh. Funny enough, it also can’t be his own tape at away games – rather than using the tape that his team brings, he must do his taping with the materials provided by the host team.
2. Kevin Rhomberg’s quirks
Baseball player Kevin Rhomberg is pretty much known as one of the most superstitious athletes of all time. He had a huge list of superstitions, including his inability to turn right on the field – he had to turn left, always, during a game. His strangest superstition, however, is what led a former teammate to nickname Rhomberg “Touch Me Touch Me.” Basically, when someone touched Rhomberg, he needed to touch them back. Who knows why – perhaps he was trying to create a sense of balance in some way. Either way, it was definitely a peculiar superstition, and one that many players took advantage, as they teased Rhomberg by touching him and them preventing him from retaliating. How did he solve situations like that? Either by touching everyone it could have been (the whole team) or by sending a quirky letter saying ‘This constitutes a touch.’
1. Wade Boggs’s many superstitions
Baseball player Wade Boggs was unquestionably amazing at what he did – he was a Hall of Famer who had an illustrious career in professional sports. He was also very, very superstitious. Many know about his need to eat chicken before each game. However, he also trained superstitiously, with batting practice at 5:17 and sprints at 7:17. He would also draw the word “Chai” (Hebrew for “life”) in the dirt beside him before he went up to bat. Whether carrying out his superstitions actually calmed him down and gave him confidence to excel on the field, or it was all just lucky coincidences, something definitely worked for him on the pitch.