Fact: Major League Baseball stars have been known to wear women's fragrance on the pitch.
Weird, right? What are they trying to achieve?
Maybe it's a tactic to distract the opposing team's players and get those gents looking around for a sexy lady during a suicide squeeze?
I like the idea – but wearing a fragrance on the pitch actually has a far more interesting purpose that MBL players swear makes them bat like a pro. Which is what we'll be covering in today's article:
- 2012 Season: Salvador Pérez
- World Series 2016: The Cubbies Bring Home The Win
- Baseball's Best Smelling Pre-Game Rituals
- How Can Scent Conditioning Boost Baseball Performance?
- Are There Specific Scents That Help Improve Performance?
#1 2012 Season: Salvador Pérez
Before heading out on the pitch in 2012, Salvador Pérez was sprayed with female perfume by one of his teammates. Understandable, he started off being a bit confused by this – maybe even a bit angry – after all, he's a pretty manly man, playing one of the most testosterone-fueled sports in the world.
Who'd have thought this moment would start a pre-game ritual for Pérez that would help him get in the zone for years to come and become a well-documented example of scent conditioning in the world of sport?
So, when Alcides Escobar sprayed Pérez on that fateful day 10 years ago, I wonder whether he knew the impact it would have on his sporting career.
In that same game, the Kansas City Royal's catcher managed to collect 4 hits.
We all know baseball is a game of tradition and ritual, so it's no surprise that (from that point onwards) Pérez began spraying himself with the same Victoria's Secret perfume before every game.
It was a ritual that started out as a joke but quickly became part of Pérez's game-day routine.
The perfume helped him focus and feel more confident on the pitch.
From that point onwards, Pérez purchased every Victoria's Secret fragrance he could get his hands on and applied it before every game.
#2 World Series 2016: The Cubs Bring Home The Win
Cubs fans are incredibly superstitious. So, it's no surprise that they're often referred to as ‘the cursed' team.
However, in 2016, that curse was broken when the Cubs bought home the win in the World Series.
It's also no coincidence that they're known to have the best-smelling bullpen in the MBL – countless times, journalists have commented on how, even after a hard game in the blazing sun, Cubs players still smell great when you go to shake their hand.
Could a great smell really have an effect on your success?
Cubs players follow the thought process of Salvador Pérez – if you smell great, you're more like to feel great. If you feel great, then chances are you'll play great.
As strange as it can sound, the way that the Cubs players perceived themselves before the World Series would have had a big impact on their performance. After all, teammates try and get each other pumped before a match, so why not let a cologne help you do the same?
In fact, a 2012 PLOS One study revealed that men who mask their natural body odor with fragrance are seen as more attractive and confident than men who don't. And the cubs have said themselves that smelling good makes them feel good.
Was their curse-breaking victory purely a result of great cologne? Of course not – but I bet it had an impact and helped them reach the ultimate goal.
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#3 Baseball's Best Smelling Pre-Game Rituals
Even before Pérez took a liking to Victoria's Secret perfumes, legendary MBL players have used scent in their pregame routine for years.
In fact, it seems that a large portion of Latin American baseball champs engage in daily olfactory rituals to help them hit their goals:
- Yuri Gurriel (Cuban-born first baseman for the Houston Astros) has openly stated that “When people go to work they get ready and dress up. I see it like that: this is my job and I like to look good, and I like to smell good, too.”
- Alex Manoah (also Cuban) still sprays the same cologne that his grandma gives him as a present every Christmas.
- Eugenio Suarez (from Venezuela) claims to feel strange if he doesn't apply cologne. Missing a spritz makes him feel abnormal and dirty – wrecking his confidence.
So is it all about confidence? Can fragrance really have that big of an effect on a man's ability to perform at what he does best?
Gabe Kapler (SF Giants manager) seems to think so.
He's been quoted as saying that “Confidence ebbs and flows dramatically during the season. So This is probably too in the weeds, but if these guys are smelling good or looking good on the baseball field and makes them confident, then maybe that marginally improves their performance.”
No one's saying that fragrance is the source of great success – but it can certainly be seen as a tool to leverage the power of psychology and help give yourself the extra boost of performance.
#4 How Can Scent Conditioning Boost Performance?
Did you know, you can train your mind to experience desired emotions upon smelling a particular scent (we call this scent anchoring).
Get this process right, and you could use scent to boost your brain into a state of laser focus and performance simply by spraying some cologne.
So is it any surprise that so many MBL players use fragrance before a big game?
Suppose you anchor a performance boosting scent to a feeling of enthusiasm and motivation. A pro-league player could up his game simply by completing his usual ritual of spraying a favorite cologne in the locker room. It might not work for everyone, but it's clear many MBL players use this psychology to help enhance performance whenever they need that extra kick to get in the zone.
Think of it like an energy drink for the nose.
But what's the science? How can scent literally change the way you feel? It's all down to the Olfactory system.
The Olfactory system is what you use to pick up on the scents around you – without it, you wouldn't be able to smell. But did you know that your limbic and olfactory systems work together to create memories?
Don't know what the limbic system is? Then listen up.
In short, the limbic system is responsible for processing emotions and forming memories. Because of its close proximity to the olfactory system, the scent has a direct impact on how we feel and what we remember.
#5 Are There Specific Scents That Help Improve Performance?
Scent anchoring can help to integrate the experience of smell and emotion. However, certain scents also help to boost the brain as a result of our body's reaction to them.
It's no secret that different aromas have different effects on us – lavender is a very well-known example. When used in the right context, it can help relax and relieve anxiety's effects on the body. In fact, companies often formulate sleep-related products using lavender as a key ingredient.
It turns out there is a whole host scents that can have different positive effects on the body:
- Rosemary – helps heighten memory and alertness
- Vetiver – boosts oxygenation within our cells, helping increase concentration
- Coffee – a great anchor scent to wake us up
- Lemon – boosts focus and helps us avoid making errors in our work
- Jasmine – promotes a positive outlook and helps to give us energy
- Ginger – fights fatigue and can even help to lessen pain
- Lemongrass – reduces stress and can lessen the effects of anxiety
- Peppermint – helps us to become laser-focused on the task at hand
So if you're a budding MBL star, check out the above notes and see if you can find a fragrance that uses them. After all, according to the batting stars themselves, it could give you the edge over your competition.
For example, Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver is a great source of Vetiver (obviously!) which helps to increase concentration and make it more likely you'll hit that home run!
CK One or Gucci Guilty Pour Homme would be great options if you're after a lemon fragrance that can help you boost focus and avoid mistakes.
There's no shortage of information online. If you're after a particular olfactory note in your cologne, simply google that note – you'll find hundreds of colognes that use the scent you want!
You don't have to be a pro-level baseball player to benefit from scent psychology. Click here to learn how you can use scent to power your productivity as a regular guy.