Athletes step onto the field or rink or court seeking a “W.” But even after grueling hours of practice and in-the-gym training, it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra help—so they often turn to detailed routines to get focused. Call it silly or neurotic, but these quirky customs just might be game–changers.
• Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Rafael Betancourt eats fresh sliced strawberries and strawberry yogurt before every game. He always heads to the bullpen at the bottom of the fourth inning, and he refuses to let clubhouse staff write on his equipment. Only Betancourt can mark his gear with the number 63.
• University of Denver gymnast Kaitlin Moorhead’s parents bring her a rubber duck before every meet. At her final two state competitions as a club gymnast, there was a rubber duck next to her hotel room’s tub. She took the duck to the meet both times—and won both times. Now she considers them to be good luck.
• If her team wins, Hayley Hughes, junior forward on the University of Colorado Boulder women’s soccer team, wears the same shin–guard sleeves during the next match. And the next and the next—until they lose. You’ll be happy to know she does wash them.
• Chris Levis, starting goalie for the Colorado Mammoth, has an extensive game-day routine, which includes drinking black coffee in the a.m.; pumping himself up with ’80s tunes; watching a comedy in the afternoon; and arriving at the arena well before game time to meditate.
• Boulder cyclist Taylor Phinney’s favorite numbers are four and eight. If they show up in any combination on his race number (for example, 22 would be OK because 2+2=4), it’s “a small confidence booster” at the start line.
• DU swimmer Adam Pettyes jumps as high as he can twice before stepping onto the starting block. Pettyes’ childhood coach read that the third jump is always the highest, so Pettyes makes it the one into the water. “I’m not sure if this is true,” he says, “but I’ve been doing it since I was about 10.”