Best Pregame Rituals in Sports

Zack Pumerantz@z_pumerantzAnalyst IIIAugust 26, 2011

Best Pregame Rituals in Sports

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    While each game is its own battle, there is a war that continues to rage on throughout each season, requiring immense focus and prosperous determination.

    Players often find themselves in a state of superstitious optimism.

    Whether they wear the same jockstrap, avoid cleaning their dirt-filled socks or just take a few laps around the locker room while screaming, these players have it all figured out.

    Sports may appear to be a physical entity, but they have proved to require more mental stability and confidence than fans understand.

    Here are the 25 best pregame rituals in sports.

    Enjoy.

25. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmitt

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    Philadelphia Eagles fullback Owen Schmitt, formerly with the Seattle Seahawks, may be the craziest man in the NFL.

    Usually players don't try to get a concussion before the game begins.

    He clearly got caught up in the moment, right?

    By looking at the picture on his Wikipedia page, it's clear this isn't the first series of blows to the head.

24. Chalk This One Up as a Victory

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    While he may have left Cleveland for Miami, his chalk-tossing phenomenon looked better when he was the star of the team and not the sidekick he is now.

    Let's appreciate what once was before he took his prima donna psyche to South Beach.

    He was once an icon.

23. Releasing the Bad Stuff

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    Some might drop their jaws in disgust at this video, while others find a new appreciation for the dominant center.

    We can't disagree with his reference to the toilet as a "throne."

    At least he's honest.

    He's definitely perfected the art of releasing the "bad stuff."

22. Fresh Prince of Detroit

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    We can't help but enjoy this.

    Rasheed Wallace has never been hesitant when speaking his mind.

    Following Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics in 2008, Wallace lashed out against the officiating and was far from applauded for his vicious slurs.

    With 40 technical fouls during the 2001-2002 season, Wallace made it clear he wasn't here to play around.

    His Carlton Banks dance still makes us smile.

21. Head Banger

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    Kevin Garnett has always been a fierce competitor and focused star, but that's not without a vicious pregame ritual.

    With numerous eyes on him and cameras rolling, the Celtics power forward stares ahead, slightly looking down, as he finds his passion and the positive emotions that help him dominate.

    At 35 years old, he may need to do a half-game ritual as well to prevent himself from falling asleep.

20. Circling It Up

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    Mexican-American basketball player Lorenzo Mata-Real really knows how to get his teammates riled up.

    During UCLA's unique pregame huddle, they shift in unison while embracing each other.

    They can't fight the excitement.

19. A Nice Choice of Words

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    Don't worry, those goosebumps will go away soon.

    This pregame speech took place before a game against Clemson on September 30, 2007.

    Tashard Choice shows us a side of him that we have never seen.

    While he's only rushed for 1,064 yards in three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Choice chose his words precisely on this day.

    The Cowboys may need a new captain.

18. Central Brooking

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    With 908 tackles and 21 sacks in 13 seasons, 11 with the Atlanta Falcons, linebacker Keith Brooking clearly established himself as a potent force on defense.

    But production isn't all about stats, as Brooking has learned from the great Ray Lewis how to motivate his teammates.

    While Lewis may have revolutionized the pregame speech, Brooking has clearly perfected it.

17. His New Role

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    While he patented the chalk-tossing ritual, LeBron James clearly got tired of his old ways and created a new pregame routine.

    His pregame rituals seem to be metaphors for his role on the team.

    Once seen as "The King" who tossed the chalk before games, his new routine became taking pictures of his teammates, or the helpful photographer who disappears when it really matters.

16. Squeaky Clean

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    Known for many pregame oddities, such as waving to his center fielder and waiting for him to wave back before proceeding and requiring the umpire to roll the ball back to him, former Mets and Cubs pitcher Turk Wendell had one ritual that eclipsed all others.

    He used to brush his teeth between innings.

    Clean teeth means crisp pitches.

15. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

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    Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs had a unique collection of pregame rituals, not including the 64 beers he drank on a cross-country trip.

    The former Red Sox star used to eat chicken before each game and write the Hebrew word chai, which means "living," in the dirt before each at-bat.

    The keys to a remarkable career.

14. Inexplicable Habits

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    South African cricketer Neil McKenzie had a couple of baffling rituals that seem to be a part of him.

    He would tape his bat to the ceiling and put all the toilet seats in the dressing room down before every at-bat.

    After he was dropped from the national side in 2004, he recovered from self-described obsessive-compulsive disorder (what a surprise). He returned in 2008.

    His fans appreciate it all.

13. Les Is More

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    While this moment may have occurred with over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, we can assume LSU's head coach eats grass before the game as well.

    Whether it's a ritual he partakes in with every offensive possession or he just likes some nourishment before making a crucial call, it's a nice change of pace from the clichéd look on a concerned NFL head coach's face that is routinely focused on.

    The grass at Tiger Stadium must be top-quality.

12. Toughening Up

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    Moises Alou and Jorge Posada, both of whom are known for batting without gloves, claim that they urinate on their hands to avoid calluses and toughen them up.

    While Posada uses spring training as time to strengthen them, Alou does it all throughout the season.

    Can't make this stuff up.

11. Grab the Bull by the Horns

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    It would seem as if solo stars, those who play on their own team, more often have odd pregame rituals as opposed to those who are on a team. One-man teams only have themselves to count on.

    This former No. 1 Spanish tennis star is obsessive enough for an entire team.

    His water bottles must be lined up with the labels facing the baseline he is playing from, and he tends to dance while speaking to his opponent and the judge.

    Not that it's distracting at all.

10. Ecuador Shaman

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    Back in 2006, the Ecuador World Cup squad wanted all the energy to be in their favor in order to secure victory.

    Tzamarenda Naychapi, an Ecuadorean Indian who is known for using magic to control events, visited 12 venues in Germany to eliminate all evil spirits.

    Fans were optimistic and the team confident after Ecuador won two matches.

    Then they lost.

    Divine intervention.

9. Three's a Party

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    While this may be a humorous collection of potential pregame rituals, Ahmad Rashad's preparation is undoubtedly the best.

    He may seem to be making peace with every NBA star from today, but he just loves everyone.

    They're all his "main man."

8. Soaring Eagle

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    Philly fans undoubtedly miss the man who recorded 34 interceptions during his tenure with the Eagles.

    With one of the most consistently iconic introductions, Dawkins was in a league of his own.

    He had the ability to intimidate teammates and get fans to reach a new level of rowdiness.

7. The Great Ritual

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    While the picture says it all, let's delve deeper into the psyche of a star.

    The potent sniper for the Washington Capitals has the clear-cut key to success.

    Can't really disagree with him.

6. Barking Up the Right Tree

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    The 2007 Gatorade National Male Athlete of the Year, Matt Barkley was ranked the No. 1 overall prospect in the nation for the Class of 2009 by ESPN.

    His coaches at USC have described him as a mix of Joe Montana and Tom Brady.

    Based on this pregame ritual, he is more like a cross between Fergie and Jesus.

5. A Cool Brees

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    When Drew Brees suffered a torn labrum on the Chargers, with months of rehabbing seemingly in the near future, most teams believed this man was finished.

    Where most teams saw a tarnished signal caller, the New Orleans Saints saw an opportunity to rebuild their franchise and bring back pride to a beleaguered city.

    After winning the Super Bowl and saving New Orleans, the Saints earned newfound respect around the league.

    It's inspiring to watch a 6'0" quarterback inspire his teammates, especially when he follows it up by easily throwing for over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns during the season.

4. Kiss of Faith

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    Bald heads are always considered lucky.

    In the 1998 World Cup, French defender Laurent Blanc would kiss the perfectly shined head of goalkeeper Fabien Barthez before each game.

    It must've worked, as France went on to take home the trophy.

3. This Is War

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    Ray Lewis may want to take notes from this New Zealand rugby team.

    The New Zealand Maori do this traditional Maori Haka dance before each international match to lay the fear on opponents.

    More sports teams need to pick up this pregame war chant.

2. Ray of Light

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    For 15 NFL seasons, the most vicious linebacker of our generation has been getting his teammates pumped up and knocking heads during his opponents' 60 minutes of trepidation.

    While he is revered for his 38.5 career sacks, 30 interceptions and 856 solo tackles, Lewis' psyche and fearless competitiveness are what stand out.

    Despite being 36 years old, he continues to instill fear in opposing offenses.

1. Locker Room Mayhem

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    If being 6'7" and 330 pounds wasn't intimidating enough, this ritual should finish the job.

    After being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft, Big Hen went on to record 29 sacks in eight seasons while becoming a dominant force on a stout defensive line that featured Marcus Stroud as well.

    How Henderson is able to convince these meager assistants to slap him in the face is baffling, albeit inspiring.