Recently a coaching friend, Charlie Dragon, sent me an interesting article. The article goes into great detail as to why using a heavy “donut” on a baseball bat while warming up in the on-deck circle is actually detrimental to a hitter’s performance at the plate. Yet almost all major leagues do this. Why? Because it’s the ritual that they’ve performed over their career so they believe it results in their success.
Rituals in sports aren’t just for the big leaguers; in every level of sport you’ll find athletes with unique routines. You probably even have a few. These rituals point to what many people don’t consciously realize. That no matter how strong you get there will always be something in you stronger than your muscles: your mind.
Your mind is more powerful than any muscle in your body because it controls all the muscles in your body!
Like you see often in life what people believe is what they perceive. If you get convinced something works in your mind it conforms your body to believe the same thing. This is why even physiologically incorrect sport rituals seem to “work” because your mind is convinced it’s true.
So what should you do about your rituals?
I wouldn’t suggest making any knee-jerk reactions upon reading this. Take some time though and evaluate what you’re currently doing.
Your rituals typically fall into 3 physiological categories: helpful, hurtful, or neutral.
If after reviewing what you do and it’s either helpful or neutral to your performance then keep doing what you’re doing. If it’s hurtful or physiologically counterproductive then you might want to consider adopting something new. The goal is to evaluate your rituals so that you have both your mind and science working for your success.
You can still be successful even if your rituals aren’t in-line with science, look at the baseball players in the article. But chances are you may not have as much talent as MLBers to cover for hurtful rituals. You’ll never at full potential when your rituals go against science.
In the end what you’re most comfortable with usually is best. But it’s always helpful to have both your mind and science in sync when you go to bat next time.
Here’s another post on how powerful your mind is when it comes to your performance: Your Biggest Limiting Factor