do sporting rituals effect practical performence?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sports  |  House: Booksie Classic
the content being provided shows how sporting rituals effect practical performance in athletes. it provides both primary and secondary sources of information and gives my final conclusion of how rituals impact athletes at all levels.

Submitted: May 09, 2015

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Submitted: May 09, 2015




This report will show how sports rituals affect athlete performance. It was chosen as mental fitness is a big part of sport performance which is needed for a successful performance in which rituals can provide control of mental state to impact practical play. It will provide opinions from both players and coaches and how they feel rituals influence an athlete. It will show how sporting rituals can have an influence on practical performance through the use of comparison with an athlete before and after the use sporting ritual. Gain the opinion of a high level athlete which at their level the rituals are used more and can have a higher impact on the athlete. Finally it will show previous research which has been conducted on how superstitions in sport influence practical performance.



















Primary Sources


The first primary source used was open surveys to gain the opinion of players and coaches of various sports to see if sporting rituals had an impact on practical performance. The survey looked at the impact of rituals in different scenarios such as athletes with low mental fitness, the use of rituals right before a game and the impact on higher level athletes.

These were gained using a survey monkey which allows the survey to be sent to multiple people easily and to be put on social media for people to fill out which allows fast and accurate results to get done as it is so convenient for people to complete. The survey was designed to be open which gave the client group the option to answer closed with a simple yes or no if they wanted to but encouraged the use of their opinions when completing the survey.


The second primary source that was used was an interview with professional ice hockey player Chris Frank who plays for the Braehead Clan. The purpose of this interview was to get his opinion of sporting rituals at a higher level of sport than the previous surveys. This was done to see if sporting rituals are more common at a higher level as there is more pressure on athletes to perform well. This will be used in tandem with the secondary sources to back up any results from the previous research.


The interview was again very open like the surveys to gain his personal opinion on the matter.


The third and final primary source used was a study on a lower level basketball Andrew Taggart competing in division 3 of the Strathclyde league. The study looked at Andrews performance in the first half of the season and then compared that to the second half of the season when he introduced a pre-game ritual. The study was done to see if the pre-game ritual improved the performance of Andrew.

This was done by collecting and recording the scores of Andrew in first half of the season and comparing them to the score sheets to the second half of the season. Also an interview was done with Andrew to get his opinion of why he uses rituals and what he feels the benefits of using rituals are.











Secondary Sources

The only secondary source used was research into similar topics. When researching only two very similar pieces of research had been previously done. These were Schippers and Van Lange (2006) and Damisch, Stoberock and Mussweiler (2010). This was carried out through internet research into similar topics then finding the appropriate ones that had the similar objectives with the research.

 This was done to find out previous research methods used and previous conclusions. This would give sampling methods to use and give an idea of what the final conclusion of this research would be.















The first set of results will look at the open surveys that were conducted and aimed at anyone with a sporting background who knew about the use of rituals in sport. A copy of the questionnaire can be found in appendices 1

Rituals within sport are largely supported by people, this is shown from the first question of the survey which asks if sporting rituals effect practical performance. Out of the 17 responses 13 people answered yes and the rest no.

That’s 76% of the client group think rituals affect sports practical performance. clip_image002.png\"

Later in the survey the group was asked if rituals affect athletes at a higher level of performance rather just recreational. The results for this were very split with many open answers which was good as that was encouraged from these surveys. There were straight yes and no answers however a lot of answers focused on how dependent the athlete was on their sporting ritual. Some argues that as they are at a high level they would rely on the ritual as it’s taken them to where they are now while others said that it doesn’t affect them as they are apt to professional a level to be effected by something.

Question 5 was aimed to see if people would agree to the use of rituals if it were an athlete with struggling mental fitness. The results showed that 16 out of the 17 people said it would help. This shows that people will turn to the use of a ritual as a source of reassurance when they are struggling.

The final question was set as rating scale instead of open question. The question asked how much control a sporting ritual had on the athletes overall performance.

The scale rated 1 to 5 with 1 being low and 5 high. (Monkey, 2015)


clip_image004.png\"The chart shows that most people think that the ritual will influence the performance. The majority think it won’t be the biggest influence but it is still with few thinking it will have no effect and a large affect.


Study on Andrew Taggart

As mentioned in the introduction this section looks at Andrew Taggart competing in division 3 of the Strathclyde league. The results were gathered over the season by collecting score sheets and comparing the score sheets in 2014 when Andrew didn’t use a ritual to the score sheets in 2015 when Andrew used a ritual. Due to score sheets being lost by officials only 6 in total were collected however there is an even split with 3 score sheets in 2014 and 3 in 2015.

The ritual in question involves Andrew performing a separate warm up from his team before a game. He then stands next to a wall and aims for one particular brick in the wall and practices shooting against that consistently until he hits the brick 20 times.

clip_image006.png\"See Appendices 2 for score sheets

The results in the table show that Andrews’s games have overall improved slightly from the use of rituals. Initially with the first game with the use of rituals he scored less points than usual however he scored his highest points of the season with the use of rituals, possibly as he was used to using them pre game, beating his highest in 2014 of 12 points by scoring 16 points in 2015.

The increase in points is a good factor that has increased for Andrew but the effect noticed through the research was the ability of Andrew to start quicker in games than before the use of rituals. None of his games in 2014 did he score first however in 2015 the three games there is evidence for he scored first in all of them. This has a positive effect on both Andrew and the team as it gives him more confidence from the start of the game and gives a better start for the team. (Anon., 2010)














Secondary Sources

Previous Research

The previous research that was looked at was by Damisch, Stoberock and Mussweiler (2010). The evidence of this research can be found in appendices 3. This was looked at to gain knowledge on the possible results of this research and to back up any information from this research. This research was a replica of research previous done by Schippers and Van Lange (2006). The research looked in to superstitions within sport rather than rituals but the mental affect that performing the action still plays a part in improving practical performance.

The study that was conducted took 2 separate groups of participants to the green of a golf course and they had to complete 10 putts of a golf ball from 100cm away using the same golf ball. Each participant took their 10 shots in a row then it was time for the next person.

The only difference between the 2 groups is that the first group was told the golf ball was the same one everyone else used whether as the second group where told the golf ball was lucky.

Effects of superstition on golf performance


Control Superstition Mean difference Effect size

Measure M(SD) M(SD) M [95% CI] d

Golf putts made 4.62 (2.13) 4.73 (1.96) 0.11 [_ 0.62, 0.83]0.05

Manipulation checks:

Felt lucky prior to task 1.64 (0.93) 2.55 (1.36)0.91 [0.50, 1.32] 0.47

Felt lucky after task 2.02 (1.26)2.48 (1.30)0.47 [0.10, 0.93]0.36

Quality control:

Recalled prompt 58/58 (100%) 42/66 (63%)

Golf putts made 4.62 (2.13) 4.79 (1.97) 0.17 [_ 0.66, 0.99]0.08

This was the results of the test. See appendices 3 for evidence. (mussweiler, 2010)

The table shows the difference in successful putts made between the two groups. It shows that the group who thought the ball was lucky had 0.11 increase on percentage of putts made compared to the other group. It also shows that 0.91 of participants in group 2 felt lucky prior to taking the putt due to the idea of the lucky ball.

This shows that if the athlete or participant has the idea that they have something lucky or that they have performed their ritual prior to competition it puts there mind at rest and increases confidence in performing well.

This can be further backed up by Chris Frank who is a professional hockey player from the Braehead Clan who said that his ritual before a game mentally prepares him for his games and that he feels better about his performance when he does the ritual. See appendices 4 for evidence.

Despite the effect of manipulating the participants in their study Damisch, Stoberock and Mussweiler concluded that the use of superstitions with golf as sport was not as significant enough to have an impact on improving their practical performance enough.








This report has shown how rituals before sports can influence practical performance for the better. It has shown sports person opinion on rituals by showing how the majority feels like rituals can improve mental fitness in sports. It has shown practical application of sports rituals in the sport of basketball and how that has improved the performance of the athlete. Finally it has shown previous research which was conducted into superstitions which show that people feel more confident about their performance which was supported by a professional ice hockey player at a high level. However it doesn’t affect practical performing enough to be consistent with every athlete.















Anon., 2010. Keep your fingers crossed. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 02 april 2015].

Monkey, S., 2015. Survey Monkey. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 01 april 2015].

mussweiler, d. s., 2010. replication of superstition. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2 april 2015].





Anon., 2010. Keep your fingers crossed. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 02 april 2015].

Monkey, S., 2015. Survey Monkey. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 01 april 2015].

mussweiler, d. s., 2010. replication of superstition. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2 april 2015].



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