Sunday, January 24, 2010

Routine vs. Superstition

The word routine is defined as “a typical pattern of behavior that somebody adopts.” On the other hand, superstition is defined as “an irrational but usually deep-seated belief in the magical effects of a particular action, especially in the likelihood that good or bad luck will result from performing it.”

In my humble opinion developing consistent and positive routines in conjunction with one’s athletic or non-athletic endeavors is an excellent practice that everyone should utilize. For example, routinely eating breakfast definitely correlates with an uptick in neurological and physical performance throughout the day. The proper utilization of routines in sports comes to fruition in basketball, particularly in the ritualistic behavior that almost every high-level player in the world uses before taking each individual free-throw shot. For example (when I played), I would hold the ball on my right hip take a deep, slow breath, spin the ball to myself, take two dribbles with my right hand, look at the back of the rim and shoot (and hold my follow through). Routines like my pre-free throw routine develop consistency that can be maintained in practice as well as in games and has the potential to instill a profound sense of comfort and ease in a player during extremely tense high pressure scenarios.

Superstitions conversely are more commonly associated with the word “luck” and can have some extremely negative effects on athletic performance. I used to be really superstitious, especially when I played basketball. I needed to touch the right side of the door to my room three times and tap my toe on the doormat before leaving the house. I even went through a period in which I refused to wash my jersey until we lost a game (putting on a sweaty jersey before every game is not a lot of fun). Superstitions like these only add to “game day” stress and almost start appearing like symptoms of OCD. So a couple of years ago I dropped the superstitions and made a vow not to establish any new ones.

Do you have any positive pre-workout/competition routines? Do you have any superstitions?

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