Athletes in every sport have rituals and routines, but few are as devoted to them as baseball players. Whether it's a well-timed piece of gum, a trip to the hot tub or a shared laugh in the clubhouse, each player does things a little differently.
"There's everything from a pre-pitch routine to what you eat before a game," Rockies left-hander Rex Brothers said. "Some guys get so meticulous, they start in the morning as soon as they wake up, but I don't do that much."
In fact, Brothers has simplified his pre-pitch routine so he can focus better.
"I was thinking too much and doing too much pre-pitch," he said.
Now Brothers just puts his eyes on his glove and they never come off, though he still has other small rituals, such as chewing a piece of gum in the third inning.
"Something as small as that can sway our brains one way or another," he said. "It's a little weird."
Shortstop Reid Brignac, Brothers' new teammate, doesn't do much in the way of rituals, but he does have a routine to try to get himself prepared mentally and physically.
"Before the game, I always like to get in the hot tub, heat up, take a shower, and then while I'm getting dressed, listen to music," Brignac said. "You know, get mentally focused on the game."
Music may work for Brignac, but jamming to tunes doesn't do it for Todd Helton. For the veteran first baseman, it's more about the work that gets done before game day.
"You know, you're in the big leagues," Helton said. "I don't need music to get me fired up for the games. If you go out there and you're not prepared, then you're going to get your [butt] handed to you."
After left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis does some shoulder work with resistance bands, he likes to focus on the mental aspect of his job.
"Whenever I have a minute to myself, I just visualize myself making the pitches I need to make, making the adjustments I need to make from my last outing," he said.
Some find the simplest routines are the best. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki just does regular old stretches, then pals around with the other guys in the clubhouse.
"Sometimes you get some nerves, so I'll make sure I'm messing around with my teammates, trying to keep it loose," Tulowitzki said.
This post is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.