Before every playoff hockey game, players warm up by skating around and shooting pucks at their team's goalie. When warm-ups are over, the players skate past the net and, one by one, tap the goalie's leg pads with their sticks.

This odd pre-game tradition is one of the many superstitions that exist in sports. Most athletes in all sports believe in luck. They take care to bring their team good luck while avoiding any behavior that might bring the team bad luck. Tapping a goalie's pads before a game is supposed to bring good luck. Whether it actually does or not is a mystery, but no players wants to skip the tradition and give their team bad luck.

Here are some other superstitions that players believe in:

Baseball/Softball: If a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter, nobody else on the team is allowed to talk to him or her on the bench. Sometimes on TV you'll see a pitcher sitting alone on the bench, with all of the other players crowded at the other end of the dugout.

Basketball: When players are taking free throws, they usually bounce the ball a few times before taking the shot. Very rarely will a player walk up to the foul line and shoot the ball without bouncing it. That's because this is bad luck. Players think that if they don't bounce the ball before shooting a foul shot, they won't play well for the rest of the game.

Football: Some of the most popular uniform numbers for football players are 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88 and 99. It's good luck to have double numbers on uniforms. Obviously, not everybody on a team is going to have double numbers. But the players who get to pick their numbers first will usually go with double numbers.

Baseball: One of the craziest superstitions in sports is what baseball players do when they are in a slump. Players who aren't hitting the ball well will put their bats in their beds, when they go to sleep. This is a desperate measure, but it's said that this helps players get more hits.

Hockey: While tapping the goalie's pads before a game is good luck, crossing sticks on the bench is very, very bad luck. Players believe that if two sticks cross while they're leaning up against a wall or lying on the ground, it not only means that the team will likely lose the game, but that somebody will get injured. Baseball players believe the same thing. If two bats are crossed, it's a bad sign.

Every athlete, no matter how talented they are, needs a little bit of luck to succeed. That's the main reason why athletes are such a superstitious bunch. Luck can sometimes mean the difference between winning and losing, so they feel it is important to do everything they can to keep luck on their side. That's where these quirky superstitions come from.

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