‘Don’t touch my bag’: The Role of Superstition in Professional Male Boxing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Sports Psychologist
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Oct 2019
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The superstitious actions athletes undertake before competition have been well documented, yet the role of such behaviours has received little qualitative attention. The aim of this study was to explore the role of superstitious routines in professional male boxing. A descriptive phenomenological approach was adopted, and individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with five professional male athletes in the UK. Results show that superstition is regularly used by boxers in the lead up to fights to i) aid mental preparation, ii) fulfil a need for control and iii) improve the likelihood of success. Common themes emerged such as the use of praying and engagement in acts thought to bring good luck and/or the avoidance of behaviours that may bring bad luck. Findings also indicate that despite a rational link, boxers use superstition as a coping mechanism (e.g., as a scape goat/ excuse for losing) and to gain a sense of control.