We all have our little rituals that we perform every day because we thing it will bring us good luck. Whether it is associated with putting our clothes on, eating, getting ready for a date, studying, or playing computer games, we all have our little quirks and routines that we always follow. However, there are people who take this obsession with rituals and superstitions to another level: athletes. No matter what sport discipline it is, you can be sure there are people who have their quirks and habits they always adhere to. And you will be surprised to see how bizarre and crazy some of these little superstitions can actually be. In fact, some of them are not too far from what would be scientifically described as symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, a mental disorder where people feel urgent need to perform their daily rituals, check things repeatedly, etc. To show you how unusual some of these rituals are that real sportsmen have had, we took a closer look at this strange phenomenon and compiled a list with 25 Crazy Superstitions Athletes Really Have. From peeing on hands and sleeping in opponents’ shorts to clipping fingernails during time-outs, here are 25 Crazy Superstitions Athletes Really Have.
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Former left fielder in MLB, Kevin Rhomberg was one of the most superstitious MLB players ever. His most bizarre superstition was that if someone touched him, he had to touch that person back. Therefore, opposing players and teammates loved nothing more than to touch Rhomberg and then run off, sending him into a near panic.
One of the greatest basketball players in the history of NBA, Michael Jordan had a habit of wearing his UNC shorts under his NBA shorts. Jordan graduated from UNC (University of North Carolina) in 1984 but kept wearing the shorts for the rest of his basketball career.
The leading all-time point scorer among active NHL players, Jaromir Jagr, iconic Czech ice hockey player, has several superstitions. Prior to every match, for example, he is the last player of his team to appear on the ice rink. Also, after every international match, he crosses himself and taps on the coat of arms of the Czech Republic on his jersey.
Caron Butler, a basketball player who played for many NBA teams including the LA Lakers, Washington Wizards, and Sacramento Kings, had strong affection for Mountain Dew and straws. He would drink half of a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew before every game and finish it at halftime. He would also chew up to 12 plastic straws during each game.
Former Dominican-American outfielder in MLB, Moises Alou was one of the few baseball players who batted without the use of batting gloves. Instead, Alou had a habit of urinating on his hands to toughen them up during the season.
Former MLB left-handed relief pitcher Steve Kline was a good player, but he was more famous for his superstition; he would never wash his hat during a season. His dirty hats become such a hot topic that the St. Louis Cardinals once held a “Steve Kline Hat Day” where the first 5,000 fans that entered the park got their own dirty hats.
Former football defensive tackle John Henderson, who played ten seasons in the NFL, had a very bizarre and painful ritual prior to every game; he asked his trainer to slap him in the face as hard as possible. With Henderson’s body proportions 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) and 335 lb (152 kg), the trainer always hoped Henderson would not hit him back.
One of the greatest tennis players in history, Rafael Nadal has many little rituals on the court. He always crosses the lines with his right foot only, he always eats his energy gel in the same way, he goes to the towel after every point and – probably most famously – he always has his recovery drink and water in the exact same positions every game.
Former American professional baseball third baseman Wade Boggs employed several rituals such as taking batting practice at exactly 5:17, running sprints at exactly 7:17, writing the Hebrew word “chai” in the batter’s box before his time at bat, and indulging in a meal of chicken before every single game.
Arguably the greatest ice hockey player in history, Wayne Gretzky had a ritual of putting his pads on in the exact same order every time. Left shin pad, left stocking, right shin pad, right stocking. Then pants, left skate, right skate, shoulder pads, elbow pads, first the left, then the right; and finally, the jersey, with the right side tucked into his pants.
If you are a fan of Tiger Woods, you might have noticed that he always wears a red shirt on Sunday. He has been adhering to this tradition since his amateur days. From a psychological point of view, the color red generally signals danger, thus it might be intimidating to Woods’ opponents.
Want to hear about other crazy superstitions that some people have? Take a look at our list of 25 Absurd Superstitions People Actually Believe.
Serena Williams, one of the greatest female tennis players, has a number of rituals while playing. The most famous (and the grossest) of them is that she wears the very same socks throughout a whole tournament. Just for your information, the tournament can last up to about 2 weeks.
Professional basketball player who last played for the Houston Rockets, Jason Terry is famous for having a really weird pre-game ritual. He owns a pair of shorts for every single team in NBA and, on nights prior to game days, he takes the particular shorts of his next opponents and sleep in them.
English track and road cyclist and Olympic gold medal winner, Laura Trott has a ritual of stepping on a wet towel to have one wet sock. She has been keeping this tradition since she won the Junior World Championship with one wet sock when she was a teenager.
Ice hockey goalkeepers are said to be particularly superstitious, and Patrick Roy, former Canadian goalie, was no exception. One of his most famous rituals included a conversation with the goalposts. It was nothing unusual to Roy, for he actually considered the goalposts his friends.
The iconic Real Madrid soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo has several superstitions that he thinks help him play his best. If he’s travelling to a game by plane, he insists on being the first to disembark; if he’s travelling by bus, though, he sits at the back and gets off last.
Retired Croatian tennis player and the only person to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon as a wildcard, Goran Ivanisevic had a tradition that if he won a match during a tournament, he would repeat everything he did during the day that he won. He would wear the same clothes, eat at the same restaurant, and even talk to the same people.
Former Canadian right fielder in MLB, Larry Walker was known for his obsession with the number 3. Apart from wearing “33” on his jersey, he married his wife on Nov. 3 at 3:33 pm, took practice swings in multiples of 3, set his alarm for 33 past the hour and once purchased tickets for 33 disadvantaged children who were seated in section 333 at the stadium.
There might be some other athletes who have the same ritual as the elite Russian ice hockey player Alexander Ovechkin, but he is probably the only to have openly admitted it: he always has sex before a game as he believes it helps him to play his best.
Former French soccer player Laurent Blanc had a very unusual ritual during the 1998 World Cup. Before every match at the tournament, Blanc kissed the bald head of the team’s goalie, Fabien Barthez. Apparently, it worked quite well as France went on to win the competition.
Former NBA point guard Mike Bibby had a weird habit of clipping his fingernails on the bench during the game. In fact, this compulsive quirk got so out of hand that even when he was in the game, if a time out was called, he had a trainer standing by, ready to hand him some clippers so he could go to work while the coach went over strategy.
Brian Urlacher, a former American football linebacker who spent his entire 13-year career playing for the Chicago Bears, had a very special ritual before every game. He always ate two chocolate chip cookies prior to the kick off – not one and not three; it was always two.
Former Canadian ice hockey player Daniele Briere was known for his unusual relationship with his sticks. If he scored a goal with a particular stick, he would give it a break from the rotation as a reward for doing such a phenomenal job.
The captain of Chelsea FC, a prominent English soccer club, John Terry always uses one specific urinal in the team’s changing rooms at the Stamford Bridge Stadium. Even if there are other urinals free, Terry insists on using his favorite urinal on the far right-hand side of the toilets.
One of the most beloved sports figures in Philadelphia history, Richie Ashburn was an American center fielder in MLB who was famous for his extraordinary relationship with his bats. He loved his bats so much that he actually slept with them in his bed.
Enjoy this list? Also check out 25 Surprising Origins Of Today’s Most Popular Superstitions.