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Do Athletes Play Better When They Look Better? Deion Sanders Sure Thinks So

Do Athletes Play Better When They Look Better? Deion Sanders Sure Thinks So

Deion Sanders, the legendary athlete and current head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes Football Team claims “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good.” Could this be the secret to unlocking peak athletic performance? Whether you're a coach aiming to inspire your team or a program builder seeking that extra edge, this article will shed light on how dressing for success can give you that extra boost in performance needed to perform at the highest levels. 

The Art of "Looking and Feeling Good"

It's easy to misinterpret Sanders' philosophy as a call for the most extravagant, flashy, or bespoke athletic wear. But dive deeper, and it becomes evident that this isn't about sporting the priciest tag or the most avant-garde designs. At its core, the concept revolves around cohesion, simplicity, and an internal sense of pride.

In a basic form, imagine a team in simply matching white t-shirts, tucked into clean black sweatpants, paired with impeccably clean shoes. It's a simple ensemble, yet it exudes a sense of unity, discipline, and purpose. There's no blinding glitter or excessive branding, but there's a statement: "We are here as one, ready and focused." It's about embracing an appearance that resonates with the individual and the team's collective ethos, promoting an air of assurance without veering into the territory of overcompensation.

The Confidence Boost

At a certain point in sports, everybody you play will be skilled and well coached, the differentiating factor is confidence. One’s personal belief in their own abilities is what separates themselves from their competition. Confidence is what allows players to reach their full potential and it’s no secret that looking good will increase confidence. 

The Psychology Behind It

Northwestern University professor Dr. Adam Galinsky said, “Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state.” An athlete can change their psychological state to be more confident on game days by expressing themselves in what they wear and being confident that they look good. 

Dress for Success

The same way that people dress nice to appear more professional when going to work, or students who dress nice to school, the same applies to playing sports. The way you dress matters. Your first impression of someone is always what they are wearing. People who dress nicely at school feel and appear smarter, and vise versa. The way you feel often dictates your reality so when athletes show up looking good, warm up looking good, and play looking good, they are more likely to play good. 

Finding Balance

Just like everything else, there is always a balance of two extremes. If you only focus on what you look like, it can take away your energy from performing. There’s always someone who has all the gear and looks really good but their performance doesn’t match, nobody likes that guy. Being a college basketball player myself, I’ve teeter tottered this balance my entire life. I’ve found that before the game, worry about what you look like to build up your confidence by making sure you look your best. However, when it’s game time nothing matters but performing.


Deion Sanders is right, when you look good, you play good. The way you dress embodies who you are and has a big effect on your psychology and confidence. Dressing nicely by itself isn’t going to win you games. But it will give you and your team that extra bit of confidence that they need to perform at their best.

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