Before and during every match, Rafael Nadal performs a 19-part ritual that he says helps him to focus and ‘get in the game’. Before every live show, Beyonce says a prayer while in a circle with the whole band, hand in hand.
Does this really work? Or is it just superstition?
Rituals improve performance
Research shows that even simple rituals can be highly effective. When you perform a ritual before a high-pressure task, like speaking in public, you can benefit in several different ways. On the one hand, it reduces anxiety. On the other hand it increases confidence in your own abilities. Due to this we are able to put in greater effort and improve our performance.
This is in line with studies in sport psychology which showed the performance benefits of pre-performance routines. Improved attention, confidence and emotional stability was demonstrated over and over again.
Rituals make us more mindful
Do you clink your glasses and say cheers before you take that first sip of wine? Don’t you feel like it made the wine taste so much better? Actually, it really does. Rituals make us more mindful: we experience the moment more intensely. Because of this, we can taste better, we can smell better, we enjoy the moment more and we remember the moment better.
Rituals help to relieve grief
Rituals can also help us when we experience loss. This can range from the loss of a loved one, to losing a bet. By performing a ritual you will experience less grief and less sadness. The reason for this is that rituals bring back a sense of control and reduce the level of anger or sadness that people experience.
Most of us have daily rituals. From making ourselves a nice breakfast in the morning, to reading in bed at night to clear our heads. But it’s also worth it to engage in a ritual when you want to boost your performance in the future.
What are your daily rituals?