Professional athletes are basically super-humans. They throw baseballs at 100 miles per hour on the field, dunk awe-inspiring baskets on the court, and score the winning touchdown on Super Bowl Sunday—all in front of millions of cheering fans and heckling rivals. So, how do these herculean heroes muster up the guts and glory to compete? Read on to discover the pre-game rituals of the world-class athletes.
Perhaps one of the most famous pre-game ritual comes from baseball hall of famer Wade Boggs. Whether playing with the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Boggs was known to feast on chickenbefore each game, which earned him the nickname “chicken man.” He even debuted a cookbook of his favorite recipes entitled Fowl Tipsin 1984.
This badass UFC fighter says she likes to get busy before the big event. Unlike male athletes, who are coached to abstain from sex to boost their aggression, Rousey says she likes to have “as much sex as possible…it raises your testosterone.” It looks like her carnal strategy has worked thus far: she is currently undefeated in mixed martial arts.
It turns out the one thing we avoided like the plague as a child is the go-to performance prep for Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall. We’re talking N-A-P-S. “Sleep is huge in my sport. I typically sleep about eight to nine hours a night,” he says, “But then I make sure to schedule 90-minute ‘business meetings’–aka naps–into my day for an afternoon rest.” Please excuse us while we duck under our desk for a quick power nap and emerge a gold medalist.
This professional half-pipe snowboarder wastes no time on game day. The moment she wakes up, she gets a hefty dose of motivation from inspirational books. She reportedly has a library full of them, including Dan Millman’s bestselling The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. After thumbing through, we can see why her mind would feel as pure as freshly fallen snow.
This NBA forward has been known to bust a move before the game. His specialty dance is the legendary ‘Carlton Dance’ of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fame. See it here and try not to groove in your seat while belting out Tom Jones.
The New Zealand All Blacks
Not all dance moves are as friendly and non-threatening as Wallace’s. Check out the Haka and try not to flinch. The rugby team’s war cry is traditional Maori performance meant to instill fear in their opponents. With all the aggressive moves and forceful chanting, we’re surprised the opposing teams don’t head for the hills before the match even begins.
This Detroit Lions receiver has a surprisingly Zen approach to pre-game rituals. He warms up with some downward facing dog before hitting the football field. Crediting the intensive stretching with loosening his hips and hamstrings: “I’ve done it for years…I know it’s something that works for me,” he says. To that, we say ‘Namaste, Calvin.’
It’s probably wise to eat a healthy meal before a game to boost performance. But this basketball pro skips the lean proteins and leafy greens for something our inner child would go nuts over. Instead, she dines on a hearty plate of fatty bacon and sugary Skittles (she even photographed the feast for her Twitter followers). Do you think this means we can convince our trainer that gummy bears for breakfast are part of a balanced diet?
The tennis superstar ranked number one in women’s singles could possibly attribute her success to her string of quirky pre-match rituals. She will reportedly wear the same pair of socks throughout an entire tournament, tote her shower shoes to the court, tie her shoelaces in a specific way, and bounce the ball five times before a serve, and twice before a second serve. Hmmm, after much consideration, we’ve concluded it’s simply raw talent and tons of practice.
We love Rebecca Rusch’s ability to fake it until she makes it. The world champion mountain biker not only envisions herself crossing the finish line in first place, she’ll actually do it—in her own driveway. She’ll even throw her arms to mock her big win. Just the ritual itself deserves a victory lap around the block.