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Common Tennis Superstitions

From quirky habits to bizarre rituals, many athletes uphold unique superstitions. Tennis players are no different. Whether they’re performed pre-match or during changeovers, some tennis players have eccentric tendencies. This guide reviews some of the more common, yet peculiar, tennis superstitions.

World of Witchcraft

Most people — to varying degrees — abide by certain rituals. That’s not to say they sacrifice a chicken before every major exam. Perhaps they simply sleep on the same side of the bed, put on their right shoe before the left, or get an ominous feeling around black cats.

While it’s hard to rationalize such silly behavior, these blind devotions help people get through certain activities — even if it’s a simple task like getting out of bed. Tennis players are also known to observe some strange rituals, which are outlined below.

Despite insisting that he’s not superstitious, tennis superstar Rafael Nadal sticks to some peculiar routines. For example, he must have two water bottles near his bag at all times — one cold and the other at room temperature. During changeovers, he makes sure that the labels face the side of the baseline that he’s playing on.

Watch Your Step

Some players avoid stepping on the tramlines in between points or during a changeover. Obviously players don’t have an issue with trampling over the sideline while the ball’s in play, but they’re slightly more cautious once the point comes to an end. Certain players believe that it’s bad luck to step on a line, so they carefully step over or around them.

Meal Deal

Properly fueling your body should be a priority in the days leading up to a tournament. You need to have a well-balanced diet consisting of simple carbohydrates, protein, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. With so many different variables to consider — like nutritional facts and personal preferences — some tennis players stick to a very specific pre-match meal…for months or even years on end.

Like other rituals, tennis players stand by whatever works. If a player is healthy, in shape, and winning matches with a certain diet, then there’s no reason to switch it up. Unless, of course, you are ready to spice up your pallet.

Amazingly True Story

During a tournament, Croatian tennis star Goran Ivanisevuc reportedly dined at the same restaurant, sat at the same table, and ordered the same exact meal every night for the duration of the tourney. He started with a fish soup, moved onto a shank of lamb, and then topped off the feast with some ice cream. In addition, Ivanisevuc would never rise out of his courtside chair before his opponent, and he always served with the same ball after an ace.

Fashion Police

Similar to how some people sport a lucky rabbit’s foot, some tennis players wear lucky pieces of attire. They’ll vouch for a certain pair of socks, a specific set of earrings, or perhaps a lucky sweatband. Some players have even been known to wear the same exact pair of shorts for an entire tournament in order to keep their winning streak alive.

Bouncy Balls

No matter the sport, most athletes uphold certain routines. For example, a basketball player might dribble the ball a specific amount of times before he attempts a free throw. A softball player might take three practice swings before she steps into the batter’s box.

Similarly, some tennis players bounce the ball a specific amount of times before they serve. For instance, a player might dribble the ball three times before a first serve, and seven times before a second serve. They might even make sure the ball bounces on the same spot — like directly on the baseline — every time.

Lucky, Yellow, & Fuzzy

Some players fuss about which ball to serve with like children picking at their vegetables. They scrutinize each ball, check its pressure, and then eye how much fuzz it has left. If they just double faulted, they won’t even look at the ball for the rest of the match. If they blasted an ace past their opponent on the previous shot, they’ll stick with that ball for every remaining first serve. Even more outlandish, some players only buy one number of balls — for instance, Wilson 2s or Penn 3s.

Wacky Wrap-up

Whether you take much stock in luck or not, most people stand by certain everyday habits. Perhaps they eat the same breakfast on match days, or they perform the same exact stretches before they step onto the court. These routines help athletes both mentally and physically prepare for an upcoming challenge. And as long as these practices produce positive results, there’s no reason to cross your fingers before every match — unless it helps you win, of course.

From match preparation to serving style, some tennis players uphold strange superstitions. This guide explains some of the more common rituals.
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