Behind The Best Podcast

Hosted ByDr. Jay Cavanaugh

The Behind The Best Podcast is a behind-the-scenes look at the people, mindset, and secrets behind the best athletes in the world.

The #1 Reason Pro Athletes Have Superstitions & Pre-Game Rituals

Pre-game rituals and superstitions have a purpose they serve to quiet and calm the anxious mind, the stressed and anxious mind that is stressed and anxious as a result of the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of the future.

So often, the decisions we make and the feelings we have all come or point back to the fact that we have this fear and uncertainty of the unknown.

This is very much like a vestigial ancestral primal instinct, right? Because don’t forget, our brains have not evolved to modern-day times in all regards.

Part of our brain says, wow, we must keep this person safe and alive. It’s still thinking about the past, the Sabertooth Tigers, the T-Rex, and these things.

So we’ve always gotta recognize that once you start, recognize that you start to get a lot of clarity onto why we have these superstitions and pre-game rituals.

Now here’s an interesting statistic, and I’ve actually bumped into it recently, which was one of the reasons I wanted to create this podcast day for you.

95% of pro athletes will start by putting their equipment on the right side.

So if it’s a shin guard, a glove, what have you, they will often, if it’s a bilateral thing, they will start on the right side almost every time. And so no one’s been able entirely to figure it out. But it is insanely popular for people to start on the right side.

Now, what are we really doing here? We’re creating a relief, almost like a blowoff valve for the stress and anxiety, the fear of the unknown, right? And all the feelings associated with it, because don’t forget, Anything we do is to either gain a feeling or to remove a feeling. Right? Let me say that again.

If we do something, it’s often to gain a feeling or remove a feeling. So it’s either to gain pleasure or to gain the satisfaction of accomplishment. Often, we’re looking to relieve feelings of, uh, anxiety, uh, fear, you know, stress, any feelings that don’t serve us so well. A pre-game ritual does just that.

It gives us that little bit of predictability that we are looking for, and oftentimes you’ll notice that we’ve made false ties to great performances in our past, attributing it to a pre-game ritual that we’ve had. That day or that earlier that morning, right? And so we link the two together.

The human brain has an interesting way of linking things together.

It says, wow, why do we do so great in this performance? Well, God, you know, this morning, I think about it. I think it’s my ritual, you know, it’s just what I do. And it’s because there’s this lack of knowledge about what I really did for my success. And oftentimes, we don’t have a clear answer as to why did we succeed?

Why did we perform so much better at this event than at the last event? And so the one thing that’s always an obvious answer when we’re looking to associate. Our success with something throughout that day or even earlier in the week. We often look to the one thing that’s very easy to see, which is our pre-game ritual, which makes it stick.

Now, what’s very interesting is when we fail, do we remove, replace, or adjust our pre-game rituals? No, we don’t. So that part is interesting, but I’ve learned that the more I’ve been a mental performance coach with professional athletes, the more I’ve realized that, the more you think you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

And so a lot of things you accept as fact. So if you don’t have a pre-game ritual, If you feel stress, anxiety, or fear of the unknown happening before a game, consider one. And there are specific things you can do. It could be a specific meal, and it could be a certain number of claps, you know, that you, or a pounding of the chest, you know, right over the heart or on the other side, or.

Whatever it is. Some people, if they wear a helmet, will pat the sides of their helmet. It’s up to you. It’s very individualized. So consider this, but at least find the value in superstition and these pregame rituals. And you know what? If you don’t have one test, drive it. Next time you have an event, test drive it.

See what happens. They’re fun, they’re interesting. And one other bonus is that not enough people talk. They do often tend to raise your vibe. So when you think about it, we’ve previously talked about priming. Priming is getting yourself into the optimal emotional state. It’s raising your vibe a notch or two or three to get you into that.

You know, that, uh, activated state, that mental state much closer to competition than maybe in the last 2, 3, 4 hours where you were sitting down, relaxing, waiting. Competition to begin. So you want to activate the mind, activate the brain, connect the two together, and superstitions and pregame rituals are a great way to do it.

All right, we’ll talk soon. And don’t forget, join the Beast Bulletin. So every Monday, you have a Monday through Friday game plan as to how to be a mental beast. We map it out for you in the reviews. So far, I’ll be honest with you, have been better than expected. We’ve been so happy, and thank you to everyone who’s shown support so far.

It’s early stages, and we’ve already gotten much more momentum than we thought. Thank you so much for that. I can’t thank you, guys, enough. Thanks for the feedback. Keep it coming, and we’ll talk to you soon.