It takes a great deal of raw talent, hard work and focus to become a professional athlete. What most people do not know is that a lot of athletes also rely on a little superstitious reasoning to get them in the zone. Whether it’s throwing octopuses on ice or drinking your own urine, a number of professional athletes and sports teams have used the weirdest rituals to help take their game to the next level.
No one really knows as to how well these rituals “work”, however, one thing is for sure; these athletes are not giving them up their quirks anytime soon.
Here are the top ten athletes (and even sports teams) with the most eccentric quirks
10 Kolo Toure
Back when the Cote d’Ivoire footballer was playing for Arsenal in the 2009 Champions League, Kolo Toure deliberately missed the start of the second half versus Roma. He was waiting for his defensive partner William Gallas to emerge, as he likes to be the last player onto the pitch. To say this superstition is odd is definitely an understatement, but it sure worked that day as Arsenal beat Roma by 2.
9 Detroits Redwings
This United States National Hockey team didn’t invent oddball sports superstitions, but they certainly have one of the oddest; the throwing of an octopus onto the ice during the Stanley Cup playoffs. The tradition dates back to 1952 when the Cusimano brothers, then owners of a Detroit fish market, heaved an octopus onto the ice between periods believing that each of its tentacles would represent a win to clinch the cup. That year was a ridiculously great season for the team, even sweeping their series with the Montreal Canadians by 4-0.
8 Serena Williams
While Serena Williams' competitive nature has given her quite a reputation on the tennis court, she believes much of her winning ways are the result of closely followed routines. These quirks include bringing her shower sandals to the court, tying her shoelaces a specific way and bouncing the ball five times before her first serve and twice before her second. The three-time Wimbledon champ even wears the same pair of socks during a tournament run. One thing’s for sure: She is just as determined to her superstitions as she is to her game.
7 Lyoto Machida
It's unclear whether UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida's daily habit is merely a form of superstition or self-torture but every morning the Brazilian Shotokan karate master drinks his own urine. The superstition is definitely not something he’s picked up only recently because he actually learned it from his father. The Machida family believes that urine is a natural medicine that cleanses their bodies. While it is certainly not the most sanitary, Machida may be onto something. The Dragon has yet to lose a round in his professional mixed martial arts career.
6 Jason Terry
This Arizona Wildcats superstar is easily the most superstitious player in the NBA. Jason Terry's long list of quirks includes eating chicken before games like Wade Boggs and wearing five pairs of socks while on court. His most bizarre habit, however, occurs when he’s sleeping. The night before every game, he would go to bed wearing the shorts of the next day’s opposing team. By now, he would have already amassed a growing collection of NBA shorts, but back then, he would refuse to sleep until he’d get his hands on one. That’s the kind of dedication that makes athletes stay on top.
5 Wade Boggs
This Hall of Famer may as well be the inspiration of Jason Terry’s superstitions. The 12-time All Star attributed much of his success in baseball to a daily routine that must be followed very strictly. These everyday customs including eating chicken before each game (earning him the nickname “Chicken Man”), always taking batting practice at 5:17 and running sprints at 7:17 and drawing the word “Chai” (Hebrew for “life”) in the dirt before coming up to bat. His undying allegiance to the sport as well as to his superstitions helped lead him to one of the finest pro baseball careers of all time.
4 Patrick Roy
Claimed as the greatest goaltender in the history of the NHL, Patrick Roy was a firm believer in the power of superstition. Before the start of every game, the former Montreal Canadien would skate backwards towards the net before turning around at the last second. He believed this little act made the goal shrink. During the game, he would also talk to the posts and thank them for deflecting the puck. He takes firm faith in his superstitions earning him the nickname St. Patrick among his teammates and an unprecedented three Conn Smythe trophies.
3 Yuvraj Singh
Call it luck or science but many Indian athletes believe in the power of numerology to attract success and Yuvraj Singh is no exception. In fact, this famous Indian cricketer has a 12 to match his birthday of December 12 and a black thread, believed to ward off evil spirits, on his wrist upon advice from his mother.
2 Turk Wendell
Former New York Mets reliever Turk Wendell is not one to shy himself from doing ridiculous things to ward bad luck and attract success. His many eccentricities include always chewing black licorice while pitching and brushing his teeth between innings. The Massachusetts native would also wear necklaces decorated with the sharp teeth of wild animals he had hunted and killed. His eccentricity extends beyond the field as he has once asked for a contract that is exactly at $9,999,999.99 in honor of his uniform number 99.
1 New Zealand All Blacks
Making its way to this list is one of the world’s best rugby teams. They attribute much of their success to a ritual that seems to be gaining popularity in the rugby community. They are infamous for performing The Haka on the field. It is an indigenous war dance that was traditionally practiced by the Maori people before battle to lay down a challenge to the enemy. While it seems to be completely harmless, this tradition has been dissed many times for a particular gesture involving the movement of the thumb across the throat. Whether it forms part of the team’s superstition or merely just an intimidation technique, The Haka surely works to get the team all worked up for success.
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