Athletes are known for their superstitions, famously, according to Men’s Journal, Bjorn Borg would grow out his beard and wear the same FILA shirt when playing at Wimbledon –  as he believed that this helped with his performance. From the tennis world stage to UP’s LC de Villers training grounds, superstitions are always a common part of athletes’ lives. PDBY explores the psychology behind the superstitions that certain UP athletes have and do. 

Music is one of the recurring superstitions that many athletes have as they believe that music helps them play better. Luyanda Mashanda, who plays the position of hooker in rugby, says that he listens to trap music before his UP-house rugby games. 

The writers of  “The Sound of Success: Investigating Cognitive and Behavioural Effects of Motivational Music in Sports”, Paul Elvers and Jochen Steffens, suggest that there are psychological processes that are linked to motivation and emotions. These are important to look at if we want to understand the functions and effects of music in sport and exercise. This suggestion has its basis in the fact that many athletes view music as a key element in their games. Another UP athlete, Katlego Thupana, says that he listens to “Hate it or love it”, a song by The Game and 50 Cent, before his soccer matches. 

We all have a favourite article of clothing that we cherish, but in the world of sports, that article can be the difference between a win and a loss for certain athletes. 

Lunga Khumalo, a UP basketball and netball player, says that he tries to never wash his jersey or socks during the season. He says: ‘I had this one teammate in high school who’d play a game, put his stuff in a gym bag, and not open it until the next game day. I remember thinking how much I’d hate to be the guy who has to defend him, and that’s when I got the idea’. Carina Maber, a UP track, road, and cross-country runner, says that she has specific socks that she wears during her track meets. She wears these specific socks because the first time she wore them is when she ran a personal best. 

Maxine Hannan, a UP hockey and water polo player, says that she associates cap colours with wins and losses. She must also always have a blue ribbon in her hair when playing hockey. VeryWellMind says that according to colour psychology, the colour blue elicits feelings of calmness and is associated with being peaceful and orderly. 

There has not been as much research into the psychology of not washing clothes that one uses during sports games. However, this is a commonly held superstition amongst players and supporters. LFGS sports says that it is a well-known belief that washing a basketball jersey is bad luck and can lead to a loss in a game. 

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