Why Footballers Chew Gum

Why Do Footballers Chew Gum? All You Need To Know

It’s a sight familiar to any football fan: players strolling onto the pitch, gearing up for an intense 90 minutes, all the while nonchalantly chewing gum.

This curious habit, seemingly trivial, is widespread and persistent among footballers at all levels. But what lies beneath this bubble-popping practice? Is it just about fresh breath, or is there more to the story?

Key Takeaways

Key TakeawaysExplanation
Cognitive BenefitsChewing gum can improve concentration and focus on the field.
Stress ManagementFootballers chew gum cause it serves as a stress reliever, helping them manage anxiety.
Hydration and EnergyStimulates saliva for hydration and provides a quick energy boost.
Pre-match RitualsGum chewing can be part of psychological preparation routines.
Commercial and Brand EndorsementsFootballers often endorse gum brands, integrating commerce with play.
Insights from ProfessionalsSir Alex Ferguson , Cafu and many more

why Footballers Chew Gum

Chewing gum is no modern invention; its use dates back centuries, with even ancient civilizations understanding its benefits. In sports, it has carved a niche for itself, becoming an emblematic scene in baseball and basketball.

But its introduction into the football culture is a tapestry woven from various threads of tradition, utility, and perhaps a dash of superstition. This adherence to tradition not only respects the roots of the sport but also exemplifies the professionalism in maintaining these customs.

Focus and Concentration

Chewing gum improves cognitive abilities in football players. Individuals will make better decisions because chewing gum improves their ability to concentrate, think faster, and think clearly.

The cognitive uplift that comes from the simple act of chewing gum is well-documented. Numerous studies suggest a link between gum chewing and improved concentration, possibly by increasing blood flow to the brain.

They can evaluate every aspect of the game and make better decisions on the field. One thing to remember is that the benefits end when you spit out your gum. There is no benefit rollover after that.

The effects of gum chewing on the body’s reaction time

As we all know that, footballers have to make decision in a fraction of second in the pitch. This is where the chewing gum gives slight advantage to the players.

According to the research carried by Dr. Keiichi Ishigami of Department of Sports Dentistry, Tokyo Dental College , body of people chewing gum requires less reaction time to jump and run than those who are not chewing gum.

In the graph we can see that the;

  • Participants showed slightly faster mean times when chewing gum, for both speed and height objectives.
  • For speed, the mean time decreased from 0.372-0.510 seconds (non-gum) to 0.361-0.488 seconds (gum).
  • For height, the mean time decreased from 0.522-0.633 seconds (non-gum) to 0.436-0.624 seconds (gum).

Stress Relief and Anxiety Management

The pressures of professional football are immense. Under the glare of stadium lights, players are expected to perform flawlessly, making split-second decisions that could define their careers.  If you are a little nervous, wouldn’t it be great if you could calm down and use that energy to increase your performance? 

Chewing gum is one way you can achieve this and this is the reason why footballers are increasingly doing so. This is because the level of stress is reduced. If you do not chew gum, you feel more stressed and have a higher level of anxiety. Why is that the case?

How can this help footballers during the game? 

The main reason why this is possible is that moving your jaw while in chewing motion increases the blood flow to the brain.

This increased blood flow helps to increase oxygen in the brain and, in turn, decreases the stress level. This also helps the flow of happy chemicals in the brain, which additionally calms you down. 

Studies have shown that footballers who chew gum have reduced cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and reducing the level of cortisol keeps you calmer and less anxious.

That way, you are in a position to make decisions rationally and without pressure. This has also led to increased performance on the field. Chewing gum can help football players reduce stress and anxiety if they are experiencing acute stress.

Chewing Gum Benefits

Hydration and Energy Management

Surprisingly, gum can play a role in energy and hydration strategies. While it’s no substitute for proper nutrition or hydration protocols, the act of chewing stimulates saliva production, which can have a hydrating effect.

It’s a small, yet smart, addition to a player’s repertoire, especially when compared to energy drinks in football.

Moreover, the psychological boost provided by chewing gum shouldn’t be understated. As players dart across formations, whether it’s the 4-4-2 formation or a 5-3-2 setup, the rhythmic motion of chewing can be a grounding action, which may inadvertently promote a sense of sustained energy.

This could be particularly beneficial in scenarios where fatigue sets in, and cognitive functions are as crucial as physical prowess. In this subtle way, gum contributes to a player’s energy management toolkit, complementing the more direct methods like carbohydrate intake and hydration strategies.

Additionally, footballers chew gum to maintain their mouth’s moisture and hydration. As it increases saliva, it has a direct connection to maintaining oral health. This is a typical method of getting rid of food scraps after eating.

Pre-match Rituals

Superstitions and rituals are widespread in football. From wearing lucky boots to specific warm-up routines, these practices are as much about psychological readiness as they are about physical.

Gum-chewing can be a calming pre-match ritual, providing a familiar and comforting routine in the face of uncertainty.

Psychological anchoring

For many footballers, the pre-match period is fraught with nerves and anticipatory stress. Chewing gum can act as a psychological anchor, offering a sense of stability and normalcy in the pressure moments before kick-off.

The familiar act of chewing is a ritual that can trigger a calm and focused mental state, preparing players for the intense concentration required in strategies such as defending in a 5-a-side or executing a counter-attack in futsal.

Why Do Footballers Chew Gum?

Consistency in routine

Athletes often rely on consistent routines to prime their bodies and minds for the task ahead. By integrating gum-chewing into their pre-match rituals, footballers create a consistent sequence of actions leading up to the game.

This can include chewing a specific flavor of gum or beginning to chew at a particular time before a match, forming a ritualistic pattern that players associate with peak performance readiness.

Superstitious beliefs and performance

Superstition in sports isn’t merely about irrational beliefs; it can have real psychological effects on performance. If a player believes that chewing gum has contributed to past successes, this belief can bolster confidence and potentially improve their play.

Such rituals, including gum-chewing, serve as a psychological placebo, potentially enhancing performance through belief alone, regardless of the physical benefits. This mental edge is crucial when facing high-pressure situations, such as penalty shootouts or vital set-pieces.

Chewing Gum Brands in Football

The intersection of gum and football isn’t just about the players; it’s also about the brands. Popular gum brands have become synonymous with football, often endorsed by top players.

When a renowned player is seen unwrapping a stick of gum before a high-stakes match, it’s not just a personal preference on display—it’s a powerful brand endorsement. These endorsements must be navigated with professionalism, balancing commercial interests with genuine product alignment.

A Closer Look at profeSsionals’ Insights

There’s no better insight into the effects of gum-chewing than the words of the footballers themselves. Personal anecdotes and quotes provide a window into this practice, revealing preferences and experiences that underscore the tangible impact gum has on performance.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson had an impact on Manchester United. He is the manager who has brought them the most trophies and is truly one of the greatest managers in football history. Among his many accomplishments, he was also well-known for his habit of chewing gum. This was his signature and a habit he maintained throughout his career.

It was frequently observed that as the game progressed, particularly when the games were close, “Fergie” chewed the gum more vigorously. This was obviously his way of dealing with higher levels of stress. Chewing gum helped him stay calm and focused when making important decisions.

chewed gum; a souvenir?

The event from last year demonstrates how much this shaped the football world and influenced football fans. On May 13th, 2013, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson played his final Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion. Aside from the 5-5 score, this game will be remembered as the one in which Fergie chewed his last gum as Manchester United manager.

He apparently dropped it on the ground after the game, and one of the fans picked it up. This piece of gum fetched 456,000 euros on eBay. What a fantastic figure for gum!

Famous Players who Chewed Gum


Marcos Evangelista de Moraes, affectionately known as Cafu by all AC Milan fans. Cafu won six trophies with Rossoneri and is regarded as one of the best right fullbacks of all time. The Brazilian was known for his impressive skills and is credited with transforming the role of right full-back into the attacking role that it is today.

This is not the only thing for which it is well-known. Cafu is a footballer which fans all around the world know as a player “with a smile on his face and a chewing gum in his mouth.” These two characteristics became his brand.

Cafu played fast-paced, high-intensity football. Chewing gum, it seems, helped him maintain his energy and concentration in defense. He maintained a high level of focus throughout the game by chewing gum.

Do Footballers Chew Gum as a Force of Habit? 

It can all come down to a habit of doing something. This is also true when football players chew gum. Footballers frequently do this because it has become a habit, whether for the purpose of keeping them calm or for medical reasons.

It is the habit of chewing, not the gum, that is the problem. Sunflower seeds, candy, or beef jerky are all possibilities. We can even say that most footballers are probably unaware of the benefits of chewing gum and the research that supports it. It has simply become their habit. It’s as simple as that.


So conclusively footballers chew gum for a number of reasons, mostly being for stress relief and cognitive function enhancement.

All that said, chewing gum will not directly improve their game. This matter is entirely subjective, depending on a number of other external factors.

Finally, chewing gum is not unique to football players. In fact, this custom has been adopted by other athletes involved in any kind of sports, including baseball, cricket and even running.


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