Often they use the rituals to get themselves centered before the event, such as putting their equipment on the same way every time, or listening to their favorite music. Rice’s diligence to detail before the game is done to carry over into the action, according to Joel Kirsch, PhD, a former sport psychologist and now with the American Sports Institute. He pays attention to those things because out on the field he also needs to pay attention closely reading opposing defenses and reacting immediately to changes. So he prepares himself mentally, in a meticulous, diligent way. He has a long, methodical buildup.
We all have certain trinkets or signs we’ve learned to associate with good performances, said Michael Sachs, associate professor of physical education at Temple University and past president of the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology. They provide a sense of comfort, some external sign that we may do well again.
Athletes Acceleration Strength Photo Gallery
Not all athletes are sold on such rituals, however, such as former great distance runner Frank Shorter, who said: I thought it better never to find myself in the middle of an important race wondering if I’d gone through the sequence of superstitions correctly.
Task Vision-Concentration Without Thinking
Probably the best way to train them is to take them all to a nudist colony and tell them not to see anything.
Dick Selcer, Detroit Lions defensive back coach, on how to teach a cornerback not to look over his shoulder for the ball, but to concentrate only on the receiver.