Athletes Bring Lucky Charms — And Superstition — To Field | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Athletes Bring Lucky Charms — And Superstition — To Field

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Many U.S. Olympic athletes carry a good luck charm — pink shoelaces or a stuffed dinosaur. Some follow certain rituals — they don't straighten their hair or shave before an event. But it takes more than that to take home the gold.

Olympic athletes often talking about their superstitions in interviews.

"My mom gave me this bullet necklace … she told me I was faster than a speeding bullet," says Sanya Richards-Ross, who placed first in the 400 meter race in London's Olympics.

"I remember the one time I didn't race with it I finished third," she adds.

These lucky charms or rituals may help athletes believe they are going to be more successful, says Dr. Keith Kaufman, who specializes in sports psychology. 

"And there's certainly plenty of evidence out there that what we believe is very powerful," he says.  But a more practical approach, such as going through the same routine, can be more helpful, he adds.

"Whether I'm serving for the match or whether I'm just serving to my coach, if I do the same exact thing every time, then it really speaks to this being the same exact skill no matter what the situation is," he says.    

So while some athletes will still wear those lucky socks for the next race, it's practice that makes perfect, Kaufman says. 

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