Fitness & Training, Prepare for an event

Create your own sports rituals and discover those of high-level athletes

What if sports rituals were one of the secrets to better performance? Discover the ones adopted by top athletes, from the most classic to the most extravagant, and push beyond your fitness routine by creating your own rituals.

Routine or ritual: What’s the difference?

L’attribut alt de cette image est vide, son nom de fichier est rituels-sportifs.jpeg.

Change your perception of sports practice from routine to ritual. Rather than the idea of constraints or a checklist created by routine, a ritual makes each sports session a unique moment where body and mind become one, allowing you to challenge yourself and go beyond what you thought you were capable of achieving.

The notion of ritual is similar to the technique of mental and physical preparation to concentrate and put you in a state of mind of victory or fighting spirit. It may be a matter of reproducing certain identical gestures, in the same order, before a competition or an important event. Adopting a secret ritual often results in creating that little spark that makes all the difference!

If, from the outside, certain habits of champions look like superstitions, rest assured that the rituals of great athletes are more to do with mental conditioning: The gestures performed give them an impression of control that directly affects their athletic performance!

How can sports rituals influence your performance?

Home Treadmill Training: 7 Tips To Make Your Treadmill Workout More Fun

Practising a ritual before, during or after an event or competition helps improve athletic performance:

  • These repetitive gestures are reassuring and help to manage stress more effectively: Creating a ritual reduces the fear of the unknown. Whatever your opponents’ strengths, the stadium, the atmosphere or the weather, you put your body and mind on familiar ground, ready to face a situation you have already experienced in training.
  • Truly automatic, the ritual gestures are carried out without effort and promote good concentration. They thus contribute to visualizing precisely which movements to carry out.
  • Some rituals can be easily repeated at any time, especially before a particularly technical movement: They are useful for refocusing on one’s performance and cutting oneself off from the rest of the world.
  • Others are applied before or during the match or race: They help athletes to gain confidence in their abilities, to remember previous achievements or how far they have come to get into winning condition.

Rituals of champions: 5 examples of sports rituals

L’attribut alt de cette image est vide, son nom de fichier est Les-rituels-des-champions-5-exemples-de-rituels-sportifs.jpeg.

Here are a few rituals, secret or well-known that are most often adopted by great champions, and will probably inspire you to find your own:

  • Wearing an outfit or underwear associated with early success: Michael Jordan wore his college shorts under his basketball outfit for every big game. Similarly, judoka, Teddy Riner, used the belt he received from his coach at each competition.
  • Having a lucky charm or number: For Roger Federer, it’s the number 8. During a match, he makes sure he has 8 of something close by and surrounds himself with 8 bottles of water and 8 rackets. Rugby player, Mathieu Bastareaud, hung his favourite sock, the one from his first club, on his bag.
  • Carrying out ritual gestures before the event to concentrate: Rafael Nadal conscientiously aligns the labels of his water bottles in front of his chair at each change of side. Before returning to the field, he pulls up his socks to the same height, then positions his headband on his forehead and shouts “Vamos Nadal”!
  • Adopting a ritual with each victory to reproduce it: After tennis player, Richard Gasquet, scores a point, he makes a point of using the same ball again for the next.
  • Putting yourself in a winning position so as not to fear your opponents: Handball player, Raphaëlle Tervel, has got into the habit of writing the initials of the members of the opposing team on an apple before a competition and pricking it with a toothpick like a voodoo doll.

Whether it’s by repeating a mantra, keeping a lucky object, listening to your favourite song before a race, secret gestures that are easy to reproduce, such as clenching your fists or executing precise movements in the same order before a technical challenge, you can find your own sports ritual and take the next step to put yourself in a winning position as the greatest champions do!

Check out our Fitness & Training page for more advice.