Right foot in the stadium… Eat what you ate the day you won.
Before the South Korean national soccer team’s exhibition match against Saudi Arabia on Nov. 13, the players were gathered in a circle near the center line, shoulder to shoulder, but captain Son Heung-min (31, Tottenham) was nowhere to be seen. He joined them after zigzagging nearby, rolling his left foot twice and then his right foot, his “routine”. Heung-min played both in the middle and up front on the day and helped lead the team to a 1-0 victory. He also has a routine of stepping on his right foot when he enters the stadium.
In the world of sports, many athletes fall into a routine of repeating certain actions and behaviors before and after a game. They believe that doing so will help them feel more psychologically stable and maximize their performance. Japanese baseball hero Ichiro Suzuki (retired, 50) is a master of this. Like a monk, he fills his 24 hours with a routine. He wakes up at 10 a.m., eats his wife’s curry at 1:40 p.m., and arrives at the ballpark five hours before game time. Every time he bats, he extends his right arm, which holds the bat, towards the pitcher and grabs his right shoulder with his left hand. Fellow pitcher R. A. Dickey (49-retired) says, “In training, Ichiro was precise to the minute, from the number of swings he took to the time he took a bathroom break. It never changed over the course of the 162-game season.” “It’s about keeping a promise to yourself,” Ichiro said, “and when you think about the responsibility and obligation you have to be the best you can be, it just comes naturally.” Tiger Woods, 48, USA, hits all of his clubs on the range before a tournament, and then, at the end of practice, he grabs the club he will use to tee off on the first hole, imagining the wind and pin position. If it doesn’t work out, he wipes his hands on a towel and then picks up the club again.
Settle into a routine you can control
According to research by University College London (UCL) professor Damien Brevers, over 74% of players believe that routines outside of training affect their performance. Experts say that having a routine that you can control gives you a sense of psychological security.
The line between routines and training habits, habits, superstitions, and jinxes is actually a blurry one. Some routines, like Ichiro’s, are tied to training schedules, while others have nothing to do with performance. Athletes use their personalized routines as a form of witchcraft to help them relax. In baseball, Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto Blue Jays) eats the same meal he ate right before a winning game until he loses. He also spends more than 30 minutes in a 50-degree heat bath before throwing a ball. He does this because it makes him feel better, not because of any mechanics.
Stephen Kline (51-retired), a pitcher in Major League Baseball from the 1990s to 2000s, wore the same hat for an entire season. While others shook their heads in disbelief at the stench, he said he took pride in the dirtiness of his hat (and his dedication to the game). Kim Woo-jin (31), who will be representing Korea in archery at the Hangzhou Asian Games, doesn’t eat foods associated with ominous words like “bread” and “porridge” on competition days. It’s actually more of a superstition. Kim Yong-se, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Sports Policy and Science, says, “In sports, there are many external factors that you can’t control, such as the stadium environment and spectators. The fact that athletes can do something they can control wherever they are reassures them.” “However, if they start to associate certain behaviors that they can’t do consistently every time with the outcome of a match, it can lead to superstitious beliefs such as jinxing.” Men’s tennis coach Lee Hyung-taek (47) of Orion had a jinx when he was a player: if he saw his mother in the stands, he would always lose. He couldn’t ask her not to come, and he tried to avoid looking at the crowd as much as possible, but he couldn’t break the jinx until he retired.
Hire a mental coach to prevent jinxing
To minimize the likelihood of players being swayed by these non-competitive factors, teams also take measures. The Cheongju KB Stars, a women’s professional basketball team, has had a mental coach since 2015. Coach Choi Ok-sook is a former sports psychologist. “I look for players who suffer from routine compulsion by watching and talking to them. They say that routines are good for psychological stability, but they struggle when they go beyond three or four. So I keep counseling them and let them know that the routine has nothing to do with their performance.” One of the players on the team had a jinx of eating raw food (such as yukhoe or sashimi) right before a match, which made him anxious during away matches abroad, where raw food is hard to find. “I was able to cure that jinx by counseling him consistently for several months,” Choi said.먹튀검증
Men’s tennis player Rafael Nadal, 37, of Spain, has 12 routines he follows. He keeps his water bottle with the label facing the court. He takes a cold shower 45 minutes before a match. Wipe the sweat off with a towel only when the point changes, etc. There’s a lot of talk about whether this is a jinx or a routine, but Nadal says, “I don’t really think about it. I just do it because I want to,” he said.
An athlete repeats certain actions on and off the field. It helps them find a physical rhythm and provides psychological stability. It can also turn into a jinx if it becomes compulsive.