Athletes’ Strangest Pre-Game Rituals & Superstitions

Athletes playing at the top of their game are always mesmerizing to watch, but not a lot of people know that it takes a lot of training and preparation for them to be in this shape. Even before a game, these athletes have certain rituals to help them prepare both their minds and bodies for the match. Professional athletes and world champions like Rafael Nadal have specific pre-game routines that they must do to help them win.

Most of the athletes' pre-game rituals are seemingly normal but some are quite weird and have the strangest reasons why they do it. Here are some of the strongest pre-game rituals and superstitions.

Athletes’ Strangest Pre-Game Rituals & Superstitions
Image Source: The Wall Street Journal

Laura Geitz

Every athlete has their own set of routines to help them prepare for a match. 

Athletes’ Strangest Pre-Game Rituals & Superstitions
Image Source: Hit Network

Australian netball star Laura Geitz has a very specific preparation routine that has helped her claim more victories than what she believes it to be. 


Her routine involves drinking coffee exactly an hour before the game. She must then strap her left ankle first then her right followed by wearing the left shoe and then the right one. 

This order must always be followed for her to be in the zone for the match.

Jake Elliot

Many NFL players often take snacks before their game. This allows them to fuel their energy throughout the grueling physical matches. 

Athletes’ Strangest Pre-Game Rituals & Superstitions
Image Source: Philadelphia Eagles

One player on the other hand prefers to have a full meal of pizza and cheesecake instead of the usual pre-game snacks. 

Jake Elliot has been known to chow down on pizza and cheesecake since his days as a freshman at the University of Memphis. 

Since then, Elliot has joined the Eagles and landed the victory in the Super Bowl LII with this pre-game ritual.


Rafael Nadal

Being a world-class tennis player has its own set of rules and regulations. Rafael Nadal is no different with his pre-game routines. 

He has a long list of habits that he needs to do before he plays a single match. One of which involves adjusting his shirt properly, wiping his nose then his hair must be tucked perfectly. 

It then goes from the normal routine to oddly weird with the label of his water bottle always facing his end of the court, and he must do all of these without fault every single time. 

Weird but if that is what it takes to become a world champion, he should do it always.

Michael Jordan

Who would have thought that one of the best basketball players of all time still believes that everything he does is based on a superstitious ritual? 

Athletes’ Strangest Pre-Game Rituals & Superstitions
Image Source: LinkedIn

Ever since he led the North Carolina Tar Heels to victory in 1982, Michael Jordan has kept his University of North Carolina shorts with him at all times. 

He wears them underneath his basketball shorts every time he plays because he believes it brings him the luck he needs to win the games. 

Fortunately for Jordan, whether it can be accounted for by the shorts or not, he continued to make and break world records in the field of basketball.

John Henderson

Almost all pre-game rituals involve preparing your mind and body to be focused on the game. 

Athletes’ Strangest Pre-Game Rituals & Superstitions
Image Source: Jacksonville Jaguars / YouTube

While many of them on this list prefer to eat food or clean themselves properly before a game, one specific player has a very bizarre pre-game ritual - slapping his face. 

NFL defensive player John Henderson often requests his team trainer to slap him hard to take the jitters away and put him in the defensive mood. 

It helped a lot as Henderson continues to make legendary stats in his career, starting with his 489 total tackles.

Serena Williams

Athletes often follow a routine so they can be fit and prepared for every match. Serena William, the world-famous tennis player, follows a certain superstitious routine in every match that she's on. 

Athletes’ Strangest Pre-Game Rituals & Superstitions
Image Source: Britannica

The athlete wears the same socks on the first and last rounds, and she even ties her shoes in the same manner all the time. 

She also needs to bounce the ball exactly five times on her first serve. 

This has been her routine ever since, and no one is stopping her if she continues to build her record with these pre-game rituals.

Matt Bryant

Football games are quite physically demanding. Many players often have diets that are rich in protein and carbs to help them build strong muscles. 

Athletes’ Strangest Pre-Game Rituals & Superstitions
Image Source: Sports Illustrated

Then there's Matt Bryant who has this affinity for chocolate milkshakes before the games. 

He mentioned that he likes to drink them before a game since it gives him the energy he needs to carry the games. 

This has made him one of the best football players in the world, and if only many players would follow suit, the team would be unstoppable.

Josh Allen

A lot of athletes on this list tend to have demands that fulfill their needs for them to play the game that they want. 

Athletes’ Strangest Pre-Game Rituals & Superstitions
Image Source: FOX Sports

There is one athlete who has one of the weirdest, if not the quirkiest, pre-game rituals out of all of them. 

Given that NFL games can be very stressful and nerve-wracking, player Josh Allen has the perfect way to get rid of all the nerves before the start of the game. 

He makes himself vomit so that it eases his pre-game anxiety and makes him more focused on the game.

No Peanuts or $50 bills on NASCAR

There is a superstition involving peanuts and $50 bills on NASCAR that has always been quite mysterious surrounding the sport. 

Athletes’ Strangest Pre-Game Rituals & Superstitions
Image Source: NASCAR Hall of Fame

Even before World War II, peanuts that were still in their shells were not sold or available in any NASCAR event. 

They are believed to be bad luck and are even believed to be found in crashed cars or smoking wrecks. 

As for the $50 bills, the bills were found in the shirt pocket of Joe Weatherby after he was killed in a crash. This was seen as bad luck hence you will never see a $50 bill at any NASCAR event.


Whether these superstitions and pre-game rituals are true, they certainly help these athletes prepare their minds and bodies for the grueling battle ahead of them. It doesn't hurt if they simply follow these routines to help boost their confidence and maybe even help them win more games.

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