Trips to the Barber and Lucky Kit – Strange Superstitions in Sport
While the success of top sportsmen and women is primarily down to talent and hard work, luck also plays a role. As a result, the world of sport is filled with weird superstitions, and some athletes incorporate some unusual rituals into their pre-performance routines.
Footballers’ Weird Superstitions – From Haircuts to Parking Habits
Some of the nation’s best-known footballers are spectacularly superstitious. In 2016, Jermain Defoe, for example, told the Telegraph that his attempts to keep injury-free include pre-match visits to his barber.
“I have to get a short haircut before a game,” he said. “I only ever seem to get injured when I have longer hair.”
According to fellow England player, Danny Rose, Daniel Sturridge also has a weird superstition: he walks onto training and match pitches backwards
It’s not just current players who practice strange rituals before big matches, however. When Gary Lineker was at the height of his career, he wouldn’t take shots at goal during warm-up sessions in case he “wasted” goals.
In 2006, David James told the Guardian that his pre-match ritual was “so complex, it could fill a page.” According to the former England goalkeeper, his routine “used to begin the Friday night before a game and continue right through to the full-time whistle the following day.”
“It was made up of things like going into the urinals, waiting until they were empty and spitting on the wall, or not speaking to anyone,” he said.
John Terry, who announced this week that he will be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season, also has a host of weird superstitions. Back in 2005, he shared the details of some of these with the Daily Mirror.
“I’ve got to have the same seat on the bus, tie the tapes round my socks three times and cut my tubular grip for my shin-pads the same size every game,” he said.
He also admitted to parking his car in the same space before every home game and donning a pair of lucky shin pads every match.
Superstitious Tennis Players – The Weirdest Rituals of the Sport
Superstitions involving items of kit or clothing are common amongst sports stars – but some tennis players take this theme to a whole new level. Serena Williams, for example, allegedly wears the same socks every match when she’s on winning form and insists on tying up her shoe laces in a specific way before stepping on court.
Bjorn Borg, who won the men’s singles tennis trophy at Wimbledon on five consecutive occasions, used to grow a beard each year in the run-up to the tournament and don the same shirt each time he played there.
For Andre Agassi, it wasn’t so much a case of what he wore when playing as what he didn’t wear. In 2016, Australia’s Herald Sun reported that Agassi had posted a video on social media, revealing that he “went commando” for much of his career.
He forgot his underwear when packing his bag for his first-round tie at the 1999 French Open and had to go on court without wearing any.
“I played the first round so well, I proceeded to not wear underwear the rest of the tournament, and I won the tournament, so I proceeded to not wear underwear the rest of my career,” he said.
Formula 1 – Famous Driver Superstitions
Strange superstitions involving underwear are also commonplace in Formula 1. David Coulthard, for example, who won thirteen Grands Prix, is well-known for having owned a pair of “lucky pants” early in his motorsports career.
“They were bought for me by my Auntie Elaine and I wore them to the point of destruction,” he told the Daily Mirror
According to the same newspaper, Lewis Hamilton also wore a pair of “lucky” boxer shorts when he was younger, until his mum shrunk them in the wash. The former World Champion also admitted to having several other strange superstitions when he began racing.
“I used to put one sock on one way and put a helmet visor tear-off on, then in F3 something happened to the tear-off and I crashed”, he said. “From that day I said, ‘I’m not having any more of this rubbish!”
Do you have any strange superstitions? What’s the weirdest superstition you’ve heard about in sport? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook, or let us know by leaving a comment.