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Football Superstitions – The Real Foundation of…?

Time to Read – Longer than 13 seconds…Touch Wood

Football Superstitions – The Real Foundation of…


MATCH of the Day presenter Gary Lineker says “Is this for real?” before every show.

Bobby Moore used to make sure he was the last player to put on his shorts (and Martin Peters would wind him up by taking his off again, and Bobby followed suit).

And ex Huddersfield striker Malvin Kamara watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory before every game.

We label all of this as superstition

Or could it be something else?

What is the difference between such superstitions in football (and in everyday life) and “anchoring” in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) – other than the first is labelled eccentric and the second, scientific?

In NLP “anchoring” we take advantage of the fact that the brain works by association, so when we are feeling very calm, we may “anchor” the feeling with, say, a discrete touching of our thumb and first finger. After doing this a few times, the reverse will happen, i.e. whenever we touch our thumb and first finger together, we will feel calm.


When Steve Thompson (WFC assistant Manager) was a player he had to eat a jam doughnut at 1:30 on a Saturday before the game!


The founders of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, have always said the inspiration and foundation of NLP comes from all walks of human behaviour. Perhaps football, which predates NLP by at least 100 years, holds more lessons than we first realise.

So that’s it on Woking FC NL Weeks…for now – and my final thought of three (after the importance of discipline and a laser focus) is this – have something in your life, away from work, that you are totally passionate about, that sparks endorphins everywhere, and enters your mind and your heart every single day.

With my love, best wishes and (touch thumb and finger) calmness to you all

David X

Next week – get over it – and….

11 Responses to Football Superstitions – The Real Foundation of…?

  1. I think human beings like “rituals” – after all, it’s one of the ways that young children learn socially acceptable behaviour and a key part of many adults’ lives (whether conscious or unconscious) – how many of us give the front door a tug to ensure it is properly shut before leaving the house?. I feel that the word “superstition” has a slightly negative ring about it. But a ritual or pattern of behaviour that helps you without causing inconvenience, embarrassment or irritation to others is surely a positive thing.

  2. I agree, that superstition is slightly negative.
    There are many things I used to do as a footballer before games, such as put my shind pads on in the right order while making sure my lace are done up right, then left. It is a sign of weakness in many.

  3. I have always thought there is a lot to be learned from sport where business is concerned.
    Your NL weeks have convinced me of that, David. Thank you. And well done on your achievement in taking Woking to the Premier of the Conference South.

  4. Very wise words David!

    I have a number of rituals (weaknesses) before and during football, one of them is that i have to click both my arms before the game in order to play well… and during a game i hold my hands in a certain way when playing in goal…

    all very fascinating stuff!!

    Keep it up David!!

    Come on you cards!!

  5. I too have rituals…one sock on first before the other is one, the left MUST be put on first we me to have a good game. Mind you, if I have stinker I often change routine!

  6. Rituals, superstitions, routines, they all amount to the same thing – a weakness in the mind and a reluctance to explore other avenues because of the ‘safe option’.
    How very safe it is to always do what you have done before.
    The fact that you always have to do a certain thing before an event is worryingly depressing.
    Why don’t people given themselves a break and try new avenues?
    Move away from the tried and trusted.
    So a person scored two goals because they put their shirt on before their shorts! Who is to say they might not have got four had they changed their routine a bit?

  7. Well done to Woking FC and for David for taking them there. Management does work in business and sport, it proved that.

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