Can You Chew Gum While Playing Volleyball? (Explained)

can you chew gum while playing volleyball

If you’ve been watching volleyball for a while, you’ll certainly notice some players chewing gum while playing …

And of course, due to the intensity that comes with volleyball, you should be concerned whether that’s a good thing or not And also whether this has any bad drawbacks!

In this short article, I address all of those points in simple words …

First … Do the rules allow you to chew gum while playing volleyball?

There are no specific rules prohibiting the chewing of gum during a volleyball game, although local leagues may have their own rules …

These are primarily focused on the disposal of gum sticks and are aimed at preventing players dropping gum on the courts where it can stick to the surface or adhere to the soles of shoes.

There are some people who argue that chewing gum improves concentration and, therefore, performance …

Why do some volleyball players chew gum?

The theory is that gum chewing helps concentration and increases brain activity. That is because the act of chewing in itself helps improve the flow of information from the sensory organs to the nerves, resulted in heightened activity in the cortex of the brain.

This, in turn, leads to increased blood flow to the brain and an enhanced rate and blood pressure. It can also have a calming effect, helping to reduce the effects of any nerves.

One result of all this is that reaction times and response rates are improved, which can give players the edge in a fast moving sport like volleyball.

Important Side Note: One of the most powerful tips to help improve your performance during volleyball games and practice sessions is by improving your Grip. There are several ways to do so, but the most common one is by using appropriate volleyball shoes. For example, these quality volleyball shoes will give you the grip you need to execute any volleyball movement, not to mention that it will give you an interesting edge to jump higher and to land safer.

Benefits of Gum in Volleyball

Again, the main reason for chewing gum is that it aids concentration, and stimulates brain activity. As stated the act of chewing improves the flow of information to the brain, and the nerve endings.

As a response both reaction times and response rates show an improvement!

Studies have shown that chewing gum can not only enhance attention, but it also can enhance well-being and performance in any environment, whether this in in the work place or a sports field like a volleyball court.

It also helps to counteract any feelings of drowsiness before a match or practice session.  Research indicates that any gum that is mint-flavoured tends to be most effective in this respect.

It can also help eliminate nausea or an upset stomach, which can sometimes be brought on by nerves before a game.

Particularly beneficial in this regard are sugarless mint or ginger gum, because both are natural remedies. In fact, chewing gum has proved to be more effective in alleviating discomfort for patients who have had abdominal surgery than most drugs on the market. And it has a proven role to play in reducing heartburn.

Risks of Gum in Volleyball

There is also the risk of choking. People of all ages, especially children, are advised never to swallow gum, because there is a risk that it could potentially cause a block in the intestines. Symptoms of such a blockage may include abdominal pain, constipation, and occasionally there will be vomiting as well. In that case a doctor should be consulted as a matter or priority.

Excessive chewing can result in jaw muscle imbalance – a condition known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). Whenever anybody overuses a set of muscles, there is a risk it could result in contracted ligaments and severe pain. Headaches, toothaches and ear-aches are also not uncommon.

Another potential side-effect is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder of the gastro-intestine associated with abdominal pain and cramping. This can arise because people swallow excess air when chewing gum, which can contribute to IBS.

Finally, keep in mind that the gum should never be spat out in the court. Not only is this unacceptable morally as a practice, but it could be a danger for other players, because they could slip on it, or it could impair their movement around the court, by sticking to the soles of the shoes.

One last obvious but important thing, if you are using mouthguards for volleyball … They you should definitely avoid chewing gum. That should represent a real risk!!

What kind of gum do volleyball athletes chew?

Despite health warnings issued against it in the US by the FDA, especially for those with low tolerance to it, and children, many volleyball athletes still choose gum laced with caffeine, because of its simulative effect.  It can have the same effect on the nervous system as consuming a cup of coffee of eating an energy bar.

Caffeinated gum comes in a variety of flavours, although one thing that they have in common is that the underlying ingredients tend to have an underlying bitter taste, so once the sweetener has been dissolved, what remains in the mouth can be unpleasant on the palate.

Why do some coaches always chew gum?

There are some coaches who persistently chew gum during matches, mainly for the same reasons as players.

In the first place it is thought to stimulate brain activity, helping them make better on-field and off-field decisions.

It can also stop them getting a dry mouth because it stimulates the flow of saliva, and helps keep the guns healthy, especially the sugar-free varieties.

Chewing gum also helps calm the nerves and reduces the fear factor. Protagonists of the practice argue that it decreases stress levels, helps enhance mental alertness, and reduce any anxiety.

And it stops them doing something like healthy, like chew their nails, or pace up and down the court incessantly, which can be distracting for the team – and could attract the ire of the officials,

For others, it has just become a habit, something that they do during – and sometimes before and after – every game. It is not always gum, in fact. Coaches have been known to chew anything from sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, sweets and energy bars to keep themselves busy, whilst, in the old days, it would have been common to find some coaches nervously chain smoke on the side-lines, both tightening regulations and health awareness effectively outlawed this.

And finally there is always the imitation factor. Because some famous coaches of the past chewed gum, there will always be those ready to follow in their footsteps.

Final Thoughts …

Scientists recommend that the maximum time spent chewing gum should be fifteen minutes only. Any longer than that and somebody runs the risk of jaw muscle exhaustion, with evidence linking excessive chewing to long-term jawbone health, and even tooth decay, even the sugar-free varieties.

One consideration is what to do with the gum after it has been chewed. Spitting it out is not an option. Not only is this unhygienic and disrespectful to other players, but it could also stick to the floor of the court or the shoes of others, creating an obstruction and, potentially the risk of injury.

Finally, if you are interested in playing volleyball in different surfaces, then you definitely should have a look at these interesting volleyball surfaces where you can practice. I think you will like those options …

Carissa Harmer

Carissa Harmer has over 6 years of volleyball experience between playing the sport at a semi-professional level, following the biggest volleyball teams & leagues out there as well as helping beginners to get started on the right path.

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