1. The Chicharito Prayer -
Javier Hernandez came to the Premier League in 2010 and with him brought his amazing pace and a thirst for scoring goals. Chicha also became known for his pre-match ritual – the prayer. Before kickoff he goes down on his knees near the half-line, looks up to the skies, with his hands pointing upwards and says a small prayer. While rumors have come that Sir Alex has told him to avoid this, it seems that the Little Pea isn’t going to break his habit soon.
2. The showman before the sprint -
Usain Bolt – undoubtedly the greatest sprinter of all time is known as much for his showmanship as his record breaking runs never fails to please the crowd before the start of a sprint. From shushing the crowd, doing a robotic arm impression to playing a dj set, Bolt always has something new up his sleeve.
3. The Doctor’s call -
Valentino Rossi kneeling beside his bike and having a small chat with it is something all MotoGP fans love to watch time and again. The ritual however, begins much earlier to this scene. Rossi first watches the 125cc race to see how much time the lights remain lit. Before riding, he stops about 5 feet from his bike, bends over and reaches his boots. On arriving at his bike he then crouches down, holds the right side foot peg and has a small chat with ‘her’.
4. Michael Jordan’s powder clap -
Michael Jordan, who was also known for wearing his college shorts underneath his Bulls/Wizards shorts, had a famous pre-match ritual in every match in which Johnny Kerr was commentating. Before the start Jordan would take talcum powder in his hand, go and stand right in front of Kerr’s table and do a powder clap. Kerr claimed that this started because Jordan wanted to mess up a nice suit he had put on. Kerr did try to retaliate a few times. Once he put on a gas mask to avoid the powder getting into his nose and once he also used a table fan to direct the powder back towards Jordan.
5. The All Blacks’ Haka -
No sporting ritual list is complete without the Haka – the Maori war dance that the New Zealand rugby team does before the start of every match. The Haka has been performed by the All Blacks for more than 100 years and is considered extremely powerful and intimidating for the opposition.
6. Johan Cruyff and his chewing-gum -
The famous Dutch icon of the Total Football era and the inventor of the Cruyff turn had a habit of spitting the chewing gum onto the half of the opposition just before kick-off. The ritual began with Cruyff slapping the goalkeeper Gert Bals’ stomach and then popping a piece of gum into his mouth. He would chew the gum while going onto the pitch and then spit it into the opposition’s half. Disaster struck in the 1969 European Cup final when Cruyff forget to get his gum. Ajax went on to lose the final 4-1 to AC Milan.
7. Nadal’s water bottle fixation -
The Bull from Mallorca has a huge ritual that has become quite popular in the world in tennis. Nadal doesn’t put on his headband before entering the court. He adjusts his socks no more than at a height of 15 cm and assures that both are of the same height with the sponsor’s logo parallel to the ground. He then places two water bottles (one chilled, one not chilled) in the front of his chair with the labels facing the baseline of the side he is playing. Before serving he clips the floor behind him with the tip of his foot, picks up his shorts, wipes his nose and tucks his hair first behind the left and then the right ear.
8. Laurent Blanc’s kiss -
Laurent Blanc always kissed Fabien Barthez’s head when they played together in Europe. The ritual started at Euro 2000, which France won and carried on into their Manchester United days though it was only for the UEFA Champions League matches.
9. Bobby Moore and his shorts -
The English great Bobby Moore would always be the last one in the dressing room the put on his shorts. He claimed that it made sure that the shorts stayed ironed and kept the smart crease. His England and West Ham team-mate Martin Peters got wind of the fact and once proceeded to remove his shorts after Moore had put on his own. The captain, not to be let down, proceeded to remove his shorts.
10. John Henderson’s pre-game suffering -
Probably the weirdest pre-game ritual ever known – John Henderson of the Jacksonville Jaguars (an American Football team) has his assistant team trainer slap him open handed as hard as he can. This is supposed the get him amped up for the game. A of his ritual is to not ask him questions about it.