Sports Superstitions

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

We all hear popular superstitions when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday. And no player wants to wear the number 13. It is said that superstitions have been a part of sports since their beginning. Players and fans alike have their ways of avoiding bad luck.

Some superstitions are stranger than others. For example, Michael Jordan (a graduate of North Carolina) always wore his blue North Carolina shorts under his Bulls uniform for good luck. Baseball pitcher Turk Wendell brushes his teeth and chews licorice between every inning. Wade Boggs eats only chicken the day of a game and draws a symbol that means “To Life” in the dirt before every at-bat. Former pitcher Mark “The Bird” Fidrych used to play with the dirt on the mound and talk to himself before every inning.

Here are some other common superstitions.


  • Spitting into your hand before picking up the bat is said to bring good luck.
  • A wad of gum stuck on a player's hat brings good luck.
  • It is bad luck if a dog walks across the diamond before the first pitch.
  • Some players believe it is good luck to step on one of the bases before running off the field at the end of an inning.
  • It is bad luck to touch the baselines while running off and onto the field between innings.
  • Lending a bat to a fellow player is a serious jinx.
  • Some players actually sleep with their bat to break out of a hitting slump or stay in a groove.
  • If a pitcher is throwing a perfect game or a no-hitter, never speak of it while it's going on.


  • The last person to shoot a basket during the warm-up will have a good game.
  • Wipe the soles of your sneakers for good luck.
  • Bounce the ball before taking a foul shot for good luck.

Manu Ginobili
San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili prepares to take a foul shot
Source: AP Photo/David Zalubowski


  • To continue a winning streak, wear the same clothes.
  • The number 300, a perfect score, on your license plate will increase your score.
  • Carry charms on your bowling bag, in your pockets, or around your neck for good luck.


  • Fish may not bite if a barefoot woman passes you on the way to the dock.
  • Spit on your bait before casting your rod to make fish bite.
  • Throw back your first catch for good luck.
  • It is bad luck to change rods while fishing.
  • Don't tell anyone how many fish you've caught until you're done or you won't catch another.


  • Double numbers on a player's uniform brings good luck.
  • It's bad luck for a professional football player to take a new number when he is traded to another team.
  • A mascot is an important good luck symbol.

Texas Mascot Hook'em
University of Texas at Austin mascot, Hook 'em, Oct. 2015
Source: AP Photo/Roger Steinman


  • Start only with odd-numbered clubs.
  • Balls with a number higher than 4 are bad luck.
  • Carry coins in your pockets for good luck.

Ice Hockey

  • It is bad luck for hockey sticks to lie crossed.
  • It is bad luck to say “shutout” in the locker room before a game.
  • Players believe they'll win the game if they tap the goalie on his shin pads before a game.


  • Always put the right foot in the stirrup first.
  • Avoid wearing the color yellow.
  • Always shave before a competition (for men only!)


  • It's bad luck to hold more than two balls at a time when serving.
  • Avoid wearing the color yellow.
  • Walk around the outside of the court when switching sides for good luck.

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