Superstitions Inside the Mind of a Top Level Diver

Superstitions are very common among professional athletes, and can be seen in many different ways. As a division 1 college diver, Linnea Sorensen finds superstitions helpful in stressful situations

“Superstitions help me stay calm to believe that certain things improve my performance,” the author Linnea Sorensen says. Photo by Wilma Stalarm of Sorensen mid-air completing a dive, with permission to use.

What are superstitions?

Superstitions for me are small things that make me believe I will perform better and get successful. I use superstitions in different ways, both in school and in diving. When a big test is coming up, I like to wear a certain sweatshirt I will be wearing during the test. Wearing the sweatshirt instantly makes me believe I’ll remember more material for the test, and it helps me stay calm and focused. In diving I only wear swimsuits I feel comfortable during meets since I believe they will make me perform better and have a bigger chance of winning.

How it all started for me

I started diving when I was 10 years old. I always loved getting new swimsuits, and I was that one kid with the most suits on the whole team. Since I had many suits to pick from since I started my diving career, I had many options of which one to wear when competing. I once wore a suit at a competition that I’d never worn in practice before, and that competition went really bad. I immediately decided to get rid of the suit and never wear it again. I also decided to only compete in the suits I felt the most comfortable in at competitions in the future. When the superstition of wearing the “right” suit for a competition started working, I tried applying it to exams in schools which also helped me stay confident and focused.

Photo by Wilma Stalarm with permission to use of an outdoor diving practice session.

My current superstitions for Diving

When practicing for upcoming meets, I have always remembered which suits I’ve had the best practices in, and I still do today. Since I have reached a professional level in diving there are not that many meets during a year, but the ones that are taking place are usually very important ones. I want to feel 100% confident when I’m competing and my superstition regarding wearing the right suit definitely helps.

Top 5 weirdest personal superstitions

Throughout my years of being a diver, some of my superstitions have remained but others have fluctuated. I have always considered wearing the right suit as something very important, but there have been other superstitions I have adapted in the past as well.

1.In 2014 I made a Spotify playlist only for diving meets, and I could only listen to these songs during competitions.

2. In 2016 I decided I could not listen to music during competitions at all since it would make me distracted and fail.

3. In the warm-up session right before a competition, I would only jump on the board and not dive at all since I thought that would make me perform better.

4. I could only wear black hair ties while competing, and my hair during the warmup couldn’t be redone before the competition since I believed that would disturb my performance.

5. I used to believe that I had to hide from everyone else during a competition when waiting for my turn to dive, because I thought I would get distracted watching other people compete.

Above a video of superstitions of other athletes.

Why superstitions in diving?

Diving requires a lot of mental strength, and if you ever doubt yourself, the risk of failure increases tremendously. If your body isn’t relaxed and focused, then the rhythm on the diving board will be off and it will be very difficult to perform well. Superstitions help me get my mind in the right place, and even though it’s just something I make up for myself it’s a way of telling myself I can be a champion.

Explainer Journalism by Linnea Sorensen shared with the Reynolds Sandbox

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