Joyce has a specific method regarding her socks and tying her shoes. Her shin guards have to be the same height of both legs and she is really picky about how her cleats are. Before a penalty kick, she stretches her right arm first, then her left arm, fixes her right shin guard, fixes her left shin guard, spins the soccer ball with her hands, and then kicks the ball. She always wears these really old ankle guards that are pretty much broken and serve no physical protection.
Joyce Chun is a freshman on Brown Universitys women soccer team and has been playing soccer since she was seven. She told me about her personal soccer superstitions through a video chatting session online. She has had these personal soccer rituals since she started playing soccer, but she does not remember exactly why she chose her specific actions to be a part of her ritual. However, the first time she did those actions, the outcome was really good, so she continued to use the actions until they evolved into a habit. Joyce said the really old ankle guards belonged to her brother and serve as mental stabilization. She is afraid that if she does not follow her ritual, something will go wrong. Joyce believes that her ritual is not as extreme as other soccer players and athletes she knows. For example, she knows someone who puts the same penny in his shin guards every game.
From my experience in athletics, it is not unusual for each individual athlete to have his/her own superstitious routine. Each sporting game is unique and nothing about it is predictable; therefore, it is understandable that athletes develop habitual routines to try to bring a sense of normalcy and predictability to event filled with randomness. These superstitious habits give the athletes a comforting feeling among all of the unpredictable elements. These habits develop usually because a positive outcome is associated with them. The athlete then considers those actions or items as lucky and will consistently use them. If the good results continue, the actions and items become incorporated a ritual. The athlete would not want to change anything if he/she is consistently doing well. The superstitious rituals serve as a psychological security blanket.