Athletes are creatures of habit and seek consistency, often following the same routine before every game or individual appearances.
Sahid Valenzuela, a Cal State Fullerton baseball infielder, typically eats the same meal and wears the same batting gloves throughout a hot streak, even if they begin to wear out.
“Before every game, I have to eat. I make chorizo, so I have to eat that,” Valenzuela said. “If I’m hitting well and I have some batting gloves, I don’t stop using them. Even if they rip I keep using them. If I start doing bad, I toss them and get a new pair.”
Coaches also find themselves following a pregame routine and doing what they feel can help their team win.
Anthony Santos, CSUF men’s basketball assistant coach, prepares a mental checklist of what he needs for the game before arriving at his office. He always makes sure to eat the same pregame meal as well.
“When it comes to pregame meal, I’m pretty particular: two plates. One plate of salad and another plate of pasta and chicken. Even if I’m hungry, I stick with my one plate,” Santos said.
Even the greatest athletes of all time create their own superstitious rituals that have become iconic in the sports world.
Michael Jordan wore his old University of North Carolina shorts underneath his playing shorts in every game. Tiger Woods always wears a red shirt on Sundays during a golf tournament.
MLB Hall of Famer Wade Boggs went through a tedious routine before every game. Boggs would field exactly 150 ground balls, start his batting practice at 5:17 p.m. before night games and finish it off by running sprints at 7:17 p.m. He would also eat an entire chicken before every game.
But, some traditions and rituals start on accident.
Hockey players in the NHL refuse to shave their beards when the playoffs begin. The tradition of “playoff beards” seems to have begun in 1980 when the New York Islanders were unable to shave before four of their games due to time constraints and has continued ever since.
Before the Stanford regional in 2017, Valenzuela initially bleached his beard after losing a bet with teammate Hank LoForte. After making sure it was fine with coach Rick Vanderhook, the whole team joined in on the bleaching festivities, Valenzuela said.
“We asked Hooky (Vanderhook) first, and he said it was fine,” Valenzuela said. “We were all in the hotel room dying our hair right before the Friday game.”
Members of the team continued the postseason practice, and showed up to this year’s Stanford regional with blond hair.
The Green Bay Packers’ famous touchdown celebration, the “Lambeau Leap,” began after an impromptu jump into the stands by LeRoy Butler following a touchdown during a game in 1993.
While many traditions are used to garner pregame luck, certain ones only happen when a team wins. CSUF baseball runs to an Omaha sign in right field every year the team books its place into the postseason tournament.
Valenzuela had a chance to take part of that tradition his freshman year.
“We got back from Long Beach, got off the bus, the first thing we did, we didn’t even get our bags, we just went and ran out to the sign in right field and just jumped on it. It was exciting. That feeling is awesome,” Valenzuela said.