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Rituals, routines maximize athletes performance on game-day

Rituals, routines maximize athletes performance on game-day
Photo courtesy of the Brophy Soccer Team | The soccer team circles together in prayer before the state final on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.

By Joey Bottini 


In the sports world today, it has become well-known that the games start long before the opening tip-off, face-off, or kick-off for many of the athletes.

Gameday rituals are extremely popular amongst many of the sports programs.

Many of the team rituals have become traditions, as they have been used by the programs for years, and in some cases, decades.

Varsity soccer player Connor White ’19 said the squad has a routine that starts after school on each game day.

“We start with a team meal in the Great Hall.” White said. “Then, we make a half circle around the Saint Ignatius Statue, say the Prayer for Generosity, and each of us touch the statue for good luck.”

Music is another common way for teams to lock-in mentally before their games.

JV hockey player Jack Stooks ’19 said the team’s music playlist for each game plays a huge part in the team’s mental preparation.

“We have our set playlist that ranges from bands like AC/DC, DMX, and Dropkick Murphys.” Stooks said. “In the locker room before each game, we turn the music loud and start to get ready while we gain the right mindset to go out and work for a win.”

Varsity basketball player Alec Owen ’19 said the team uses a chant before their games to pump-up the squad.

“To hype the team up, Jaden Cons ’19 stands in the middle of our swaying huddle and leads us with a loud chant,” said Owen.

Dressing classy to school has become another way for team’s including basketball and soccer to feel united as one before their games.

“Wearing Mass dress to school helps us remember that we need to ‘take care of business’ in the game,” said Owen. “It’s also pretty fun to get dressed up and have everyone on campus recognize that it’s game day.”

Not all pre-game rituals are team-oriented though, as some players have their own personal rituals.

JV hockey player Ryan Gelinas ’19 said he prepares by eating the same meal followed by a nap before each game.

“I always eat a big plate of pasta with chicken and red sauce then take a nap for about two hours,” Gelinas said. “After that, I play a pregame playlist on full blast during my drive to the rink.”

Many psychologists have begun to study the effectiveness of pre-game preparation on performance.

In the article “Sports: Why the World’s Best Athletes Use Routines” written by Doctor Jim Taylor Ph.D. of Psychology Today, Taylor said, “Sport routines can increase control over their performances by enabling them to directly prepare for every area that impacts their sport.”

Stooks said that the hockey team’s energy and performance was affected drastically when they went without pregame routines.

“There have been some early games when we had no time for music and it really showed on the ice,” Stooks said. “In our last game of the season we didn’t have a speaker, so I had to do an acapella rendition of DMX’s ‘X gon give it to ya’ to try and get the team ready.”

Psych-up techniques like the one used by the hockey team is—according to Dr. Jim Taylor—the mental aspect of routines that athletes can control in order to be focused intensely during their performance.

Whether or not pre-game actions are effective routines or superstitious rituals may spark up some debate, but in the end, these athletes believe the hype.

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