Psychologists Say Olympic Athletes' Weird Rituals Are Actually Effective

Posted on August 17, 2016

Serena Williams is rumored to wear the same socks for the duration of a tournament and bouncing her tennis ball five times before her first serve. Psychologist Stuart Vyse, who authored a book on the psychology of superstition, says pregame rituals like Serena's could give pros the confidence boost they need to edge out competitors.

"Even though this ritual can't possibly directly affect what's going on, it gives the person a sense that they have a bit more control over the outcome than they would otherwise have," Vyse told Quartz.

In a 2011 interview with ESPN W, sports psychologist Kristen Dieffenbach said she even coaches athletes into finding the rituals that are right for them. She said the key is to create habits that don't rely heavily on objects (like a lucky coin, for example) that can be forgotten or lost, leaving athletes "out of sorts."

Vyse emphasized there's nothing "magical" about any ritual — it's pure psychology. But that's the point.

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Category(s):Sports Psychology

Source material from Mic

Mental Health News