Routine is good, superstitions are not
"There is a big difference between positive pre-match routines and superstitions," explains West Bromwich Albion’s peak performance coach, Tom Bates. "Superstitions are generally irrational thoughts and behaviours – like putting on your left boot first – whereas a pre-match routine is a justified performance-enhancer."
Be honest with yourself
The only important questions you need to ask yourself are: a) Have I given myself the best opportunity to succeed today (matchday) by training hard all week? and b) Have I made the effort to improve in the areas I need to? "If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then you have no reason to worry about the impact of your superstitions," says Bates.
More after the break
Think less, not more
"If you’ve trained hard all week you can be confident on matchday," insists Bates. "Instead of worrying, you can relax and feel in control. Meet up with your team-mates before the game and play ping-pong, pool or even a game of cards. These activities will lighten the mood and energise the mind, taking your mind off your superstitions."
Watch YouTube, not drain covers
"Ask yourself the question: is what I’m doing giving me a real advantage?" recommends Bates. "Is saluting this magpie, skipping over three drains or not walking under ladders actually making me better? Instead of being a slave to these irrational thoughts listen to your favourite song or watch an inspired YouTube clip."
Share and question
"Chances are there’s a player in the team who also has a superstition," says Bates. "Sharing them and saying them out loud can make you realise how unhelpful and silly they are. Where’s the evidence that they help? Does putting on your left boot on first really give you good luck? Have you ever done that and still played badly? Listen to the facts."