The Book

Superstitionism - The Psychology of Sport

Superstition disrupts athletes’ psychology and exists at the heart of their core beliefs, just as winning and losing are often said to be caused by luck; but what if luck is a figment of imagination? What if there is no such thing as luck? Where does that leave superstition which forms such an integral part of how many athletes think?

What caused football pundit Pat Nevin to balk at one of the most surreal experiences he had ever witnessed in the not-so-beautiful game? What left former football manager Harry Redknapp sceptical of a pre-match prayer meeting before facing the might of Manchester United F.C? What caused the media to coin the phrase ‘Freaky Fridays’ to describe how supreme performances by elite golfer Rory McIlroy on Thursdays, regularly deteriorated the following day?

How does the fear of ‘Juju’ magic reportedly experienced by Togo International and former Arsenal F.C and Tottenham F.C footballer Emmanuel Adebayor, differ from the Irish ‘Juju’ magical hex infamously described as the Mayo curse? Is it purely a matter of demographics, is there such a thing as the ‘Commentator’s Curse’ and is God a superstition? Why are some athletes beaten before they begin, and the fates of winners and also-rans seemingly decided before bursting out of the starting blocks?

How you think can determine whether you are meteoric or mediocre, but this is not quite sport as you might imagine. Instead something far deeper is shaping your unique sporting genius, and that something is core superstitious beliefs. So hold onto your hat and open your mind as Superstitionism – The Psychology of Sport leads an engaging and enlightening exploration into athletes’ psychology before a whistle is blown or starting pistol fired.

The Author

David White

David is an advocate of thinking environments which expand human potential and develops captivating coaching strategies to enhance business practice, lifestyle and sport. He is highly proficient in the promotion of leadership, transitioning and change, and formed part of an Executive Program for Leaders at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He is much sought after in business and sporting enterprise as a prominent and dynamic public speaker, national learning facilitator, consultant and performance coach who engages his audience in respectful discourse using wordplay and humour to establish rapport.

His background in sport is equally diverse. He is a former coach education and orientation tutor with Sport NI, 'Football for All' facilitator for the Irish Football Association (IFA) and was awarded the title of Thaiboxing Kru (Teacher) at the World renowned Master Toddy Academy in Las Vegas (now located in Thailand). His aim is to spark a global renaissance in the dwindling art of curiosity since curiosity is integral to innovation, and to achieving self-mastery of personal genius and organisational growth.


Luck does not exist

No Shame Podcast

Superstitions, Psychology and Sport

Dan Abrahams - The Sport Psych Show

Episode 9 - Superstitions

Rob and Rats World of Wonder

Colin Murray

Welcome to Superstitionism

Pat Nevin Anecdote

No Shame Podcast

UFC, Rafael dos Anjos, and Jesus

No Shame Podcast

Mayo Curse Anecdote

No Shame Podcast

Joe Mahon

A Sense of Belonging

The Rise and Rise of Rhys McKee (Part 1)


Luck – What’s sport got to do with it?

Coaching in the 21st Century – A fresh look at Sporting Analysis

  • October 2019
    • The Boxing Coaches' Podcast
      Episode 29 - Boxing Superstition(ism) with guest David White
      9th October 2019
      The Boxing Coaches' Podcast
  • September 2019
    • Rob and Rats World of Wonder
      Episode 9 - Superstitions
      11th September 2019
      Rob and Rats World of Wonder
  • April 2019
    • Dan Abrahams - The Sport Psych Show
      Superstitions, Psychology and Sport
      30th April 2019
      The Sport Psych Show - Superstitions in Sport: What’s Luck got to do with it?
    • Showcasing 'Luck - What's sport got to do with it?'
      15th April 2019
      Millennium Forum Theatre
  • March 2019
    • The Hidden Psychology of the Beautiful Game
      26th March 2019
      Greenisland Football Club
      The Hidden Psychology of the Beautiful Game - Greenisland Football Club
  • January 2019
    • Paddy Holohan - No Shame Podcast
      A conversation about superstition and beliefs
      20th January 2019
  • October 2018
    • Conversation about Leadership and Beliefs
      18th October 2018
      St Mary's University College, Belfast
  • August 2018
    • Northern Ireland Men's Futsal Squad
      Explore the impact of self-talk on sports performance
      11th August 2018
      Ulster University Sports Complex, Coleraine
    • Northern Ireland Women's Futsal Squad
      Excelling beyond an underdog mind-set
      11th August 2018
      Ulster University Sports Complex, Coleraine
  • July 2018
    • Motivational Talk - Psychology of Marginal Gains
      19th July 2018
      IMMA Next Generation, Ballymena
  • April 2018
    • Presentation to Ulster GAA
      A Critical Analysis of Implying Luck Within Sport.
      25th April 2018
      Ulster GAA Headquarters, Co. Armagh
  • March 2018
    • Luck – What’s sport got to do with it?
      15th March 2018. 7-9pm
      Des Allen Suite, Ballymena Showgrounds
  • December 2017
    • Presentation to IFA Coach Education Staff & Guests
      13th December 2017
      National Football Stadium, Belfast
  • February 2018
    • Science Behind Sporting PerformanceSold out
      16th February 2018
      National Football Stadium, Belfast
  • November 2017
    • Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council
      29th November 2017
      Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey
    • Performance Analysis & Coaching Practice at University of Ulster
      14th November 2017
      University of Ulster, Jordanstown


For general correspondence as well as inquiries about hiring the author to speak at your venue or event, please complete the form below:

Northern Ireland
Twitter: @superstitionism
LinkedIn: David White