Throughout history and in every type of competition, great athletes have practiced rituals. Some have been passed down to them from other great athletes or powers that be. Others, the athletes have determined worked for them alone, and they determined they were insured success as long as they continued their use.
Masahiko Kimura – Judo/Jiu-Jitsu
Masahiko Kimura is widely accepted as the greatest Judoka and professional wrestler of all time. His rituals began as intense training but as his strength and power grew, so did his dependence on his rituals. His body was a force that left competition unconscious and beaten. In his entire career, he only lost four matches.
Kimura’s rituals included daily osotogari (leg throws) against trees. He had daily sparring sessions at the Tokyo Police Station. As his career continued, his rituals grew to include 1000 push-ups per day and work-outs that lasted up to 9-hours.
Kevin Rhomberg – Major League Baseball, The Cleveland Indians
Kevin Rhomberg was a very superstitious man. He believed if anyone ever touched him, it was imperative that he had to touch them back. Even a light touch on the shoulder or the hand required a return touch.
Perhaps the most noted ritual Rhomberg was known for was his refusal to ever make a right turn while on the baseball diamond. His reason was this. When running the bases, you only turn left. Turning right would throw off the natural order of things. This could result in throwing off the order of the game and players which could cause them to lose the game.
Gambling Pro – Doyle Brunson, Poker
Doyal Brunson is a gambling legend. His favorite game of chance is poker and he is a Hall of Famer. Brunson carries a persona chip protector that he speaks to before each game. The ornament supports a picture of a cartoon ghost that Brunson has named “Casper”. Whether Casper has any powers or not is not proven, but other pro players soon began to notice that whatever Brunson asked for seemed to come true. Brunson did not fail to take advantage of this opportunity. He began renting Casper out to other pro gamblers for $500 for 30-minute sessions. He has a steady flow of customers.
It should be noted that there are many charms that customers of casinos and offshore casinos such as Lotto land use. These are not new. Many people keep a rabbit’s foot in their pocket or a four-leaf clover in their wallet. We may toss some coins in a fountain, wear red on game day, and toss salt over our shoulders.
Nascar – Joe Weatherby, Automobile Racing
There is a very old Nascar legend that predated World War II. This legend resulted in two rituals that are in place even today. The first is that no peanut shells are allowed in Nascar. If any nuts are brought in to sell or consume, they must be pre-shelled. The second is that no $50 bills are allowed. All other currency is fine, but no $50 bills will be accepted anywhere in Nascar for any reason.
The first ritual came about when someone voiced that he noticed, there were always peanut shells in the smoldering remains of fiery crashes during Nascar. Someone else agreed and soon everyone was wondering if the shells were somehow part of the crashes or a sign of some kind. In any event, it prompted the rule that peanut shells were not to be allowed on the site and that ruling has never been changed.
The superstition of the banning of $50 bills was a bit more “unlucky” than anything else. Champion racer Joe Weatherby died in a fatal crash in 1964. In his shirt pocket were two $50 bills. This was deemed to be unlucky and no one wanted any bad luck in Nascar so the $ ’50s were banned.
As you can see, the good luck rituals of famous athletes span far beyond sports, professional gaming, and physical challenges. Any group of people who stand to benefit by waging their skills and talents against man or machine will try to find something to tip the scales in their favor. There are many more. Some are less pleasant than others. For example, tennis great, Serena Williams refuses to change her socks throughout a single tournament run. She has blamed past losses in her changes in the past. There are players who do not change their hats, refuse to shave and keep unlit cigarettes in their mouths while in the dugout. All of these little things make them feel like they have luck on their side. If this gives them a mental edge, it’s all good. After all, they are super-stars, so something is working!