Tag Archives: team rituals

Pre-Game Hockey Ritual

Context :

JF is a 22 year old college student at USC from Rhode Island. He has been playing hockey since he was four or five years old, and started competitive hockey in middle school. In high school, he played on his varsity team, and became close with all the players. They did a pre-game ritual before each game for good luck, which boosted their spirits in pursuit of winning state championship every year.

Text :

“Before my hockey games, I would have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because Sidney Crosby, who is one of the best players in NHL in my opinion, used to say he ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before each game for good energy, like good vibes. And then my teammates would always play the same songs in the locker room, like Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You and also Chiraq, which its a completely different vibe. They were our good luck songs for the game. So the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and the songs were my pre-game ritual.”

Analysis :

Rituals don’t always have to be for specific cultures or religions, and often materialize in everyday situations. Many sports teams have their own pre-game rituals that they use to get into the right headspace or use for good luck. Because JF idolized his favorite hockey player who would eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before each game, he implemented that into his own ritual and convinced himself that eating that sandwich would lead him to win a game. Rituals are also bonding experiences and often create communities, so JF and his team became really close because they did this ritual before each game.


So for competitive cheer, Nationals is 2 days… so if you make it to Finals, the second day, we all sit in a room with our coaches. The lights are off and, uh, our coaches, they prerecord just their voices.. so there will be like a themed song throughout and then with that, each of our main coaches will give a speech they recorded on there.

I cry like a baby,  like I am heaving and everyone cries and it’s supposed to inspire you for the next day… they talk about the year and I bawl like a little, little baby and just sit on the bed and they cry, too.

But also, sometimes they put funny jokes in there. My senior year  “Inspirationals” one was really rough.

How long has this been a tradition on your team?

Uh…probably like 20 years?

Are the people on the team the same every year…like you’re all really close?

Typically, yeah… I’ve stayed with my coaches for 8 years and we’ve switched companies, like our entire cheer gym completely ended and a new one started, but most of the people were the same.

Why do you think they’ve carried this on?

I guess…it’s meant to reflect on the whole year and to inspire you for the next day and just doing it for the family that’s around you. They have Worlds this week! Ahhhh!!!


The informant, my roommate, told me this one-on-one in our room. This is the first time she ever described this tradition to me, but I have heard a lot about her cheer team over the course of living with her.


Obviously, based on the emphasis my informant places on all her crying, this ritual means a lot to the cheerleaders. And Nationals is a high stakes situation, so reflecting on the year and preparation makes a lot of sense.