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Sports Superstitions – Athletes and Their Weird Rituals

December 13, 2019

We all have our rituals. From knocking on wood to avoiding walking under ladders, these small acts somehow change the outcome of events in our minds. Athletes are no different from us, especially when it comes to their sports superstitions and rituals that in their minds can change the outcome of a big game.

From football to tennis, superstitions control the actions of big names in sports. What does Rafael Nadal do during every match to make sure his serves are flawless every time?

What relief did Sergio Goycochea need to block every penalty kick?

Let’s have a closer look and see what tricks these athletes used to keep lady luck on their side.

Lyoto Machida’s Complete Breakfast

Lyoto Machida is one of the most interesting MMA fighters to ever enter the octagon. Having held the UFC Light Heavyweight belt and defeating the likes of Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans, it seemed like he was unbeatable.  Some might argue that years of training combined with a warrior’s spirit was the secret to his success.

Lyoto had another ace up his sleeve though. Every morning he starts off his day with a warm glass of his own urine. He picked up this eccentric habit from his father, and believes this special brew is “natural medicine”. Although his undefeated streak was eventually broken, maybe there was something to say for his choice of breakfast beverage.

Football Superstition – Gary Wastes No Goals

Gary Lineker was undoubtedly a fantastic goal scorer. He currently holds the number three spot on England’s all-time highest scorers with an impressive 48 goals in total.

He also notched an impressive 10 goals scored at World Cup tournaments. During his warm-up’s, he adhered to a strict football superstition that may have contributed to his massive success.

Lineker refused to shoot towards the net during warmup. In his mind, he only had a limited amount of goals he could make, and he wasn’t about to waste them during practice. He might have ended up at the number one spot for most goals scored had he discovered this ritual earlier.

Gary Lineker

Tiger Wood’s Sports Superstition – Red Shirt Sundays

While Tiger Woods should have probably used his good luck charm to help avoid some unfortunate mishaps in his personal life, it’s not failing him on the golf course.

His superstition in sports involves a certain choice of attire. If it’s Sunday and he’s on the green, you’ll be sure to see Tiger in a red shirt. If his recent comeback to the top of his game can indicate, his clothing choices are doing the trick.

Sergio Goycochea’s Pitch Upkeep

Sergio Goycohea was known for his iron-walled defence as a goalkeeper in the 1990’s. His steady hands and sharp reflexes helped push Argentina through an impressive 1990’s World Cup Final performance. So, what did Sergio do to keep his nerves so cool?

His football superstition is a bizarre one indeed. Before every penalty kick, Goychoea would water the pitch in his special way. That’s right, he would urinate in front of fans and camera alike to steady himself. In his defence, no one seemed to mind that much, and his goalkeeping skills were on point.

Sergio Goycohea

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Football Superstitions

Portugal’s captain Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t without his superstitions. This star forward might not seem like he needs any added luck on his side, but his ritual may bring him some either way.

Cristiano always makes sure his right foot is first when entering a pitch. Also, being a gentleman, he enters the field last letting his teammates lead the way.

Serena Stinky Sports Superstition

The world of female tennis has been dominated by the Williams sisters for a generation. These two powerhouses forced other players to evolve to their more aggressive playstyle to stay competitive.

Serena Williams, in particular, has an impressive presence on the court, but her success might be attributed to a less-than hygienic routine. Serena’s sports superstition she doesn’t change her socks during tournaments. She’ll wear the same pair, unwashed, for the entire competition. While the locker room must suffer for it, her play certainly hasn’t.

Rafael Nadal’s Many Superstitions

Rafael Nadal is without a doubt one of the most impressive tennis players of the modern era. Along with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, he has rotated between the top three positions of the sport for almost 15 years.

Oddly enough despite his raw talent which should be enough to convince anyone of being able to win a match, Rafa is a man of many superstitions. From making sure the labels on his water bottles face the direction he’s sitting, to hopping before each coin toss, Nadal is a man of repetition. Whatever it is he’s doing seems to be working, as there are no signs of the Spaniard slowing down in his 30’s.

Sports Superstitions – Method in Their Madness?

Regardless of whether these sports rituals and superstitions help enhance an athlete’s performance, they’re fun to hear about. Although we don’t relate to every method these sports stars used to get an edge over the competition, who are we to say they didn’t work?

Let’s raise a glass in salute to Lyoto Machida and all the other great sports performers – Bottoms up!

About the author

Alan Penny
Alan Penny


Alan hails from Northern Ireland and is an avid fan of all sports. He has been with us since 2017 and serves as SBO’s Editor-in-Chief. Alan passionately covers everything from the latest regulatory developments across the globe to tips on the latest football matches.