Why Do Basketball Players Chew Gum?

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If you have been watching NBA games for a very long time, you will notice that it is common among different NBA players to like chewing gum. This has been something that players have been doing for decades but has died down a bit in more modern times.

Still, even though NBA players no longer chewed gum the way they did in the past, you will see some basketball players in local leagues and international stages doing this practice. And you might even wonder why chewing gum has become a widespread practice among basketball players.

So, why do basketball players chew gum? We will address this question to see the importance of chewing gum during a game can do for a basketball player.

Should You Chew Gum While Playing BasketballShould You Chew Gum While Playing Basketball?

People who have been watching basketball games for a long time would notice that some practices are common among different players. Now, we are not merely talking about certain activities that are quite logical because it is easy to understand why these basketball players are doing so. Examples of such an activity are pre-game warm-ups and rituals that have a psychological impact on certain players.

Instead, what we are talking about here is that some basketball players like chewing gum during games. This has been going around for decades already as you might have seen numerous NBA players chewing gum in the middle of a game. So, is chewing gum something that you should be doing when you are playing basketball?

Chewing gum in the middle of a basketball game is not mandatory among players, nor is it something that coaches tend to tell their players. This is almost entirely dependent on the individual player and whether chewing gum impacts the way he plays the game. Some players may or may not notice that chewing gum does differ in the way he plays, but some see a noticeable improvement in focus and performance.

Essentially, chewing gum is entirely up to you if you feel like it can affect your game. And before you try reading about what happens when you chew gum during a game, you should do it first. While there are some benefits that you can get when you do chew gum in the middle of the game, it can still depend entirely on different individuals. If you try to learn more about the benefits right now, a placebo effect might psychologically make you believe that your performance has improved.

Instead of chewing gum, one thing you might want to do is to try a basketball mouthguard, which you can also chew in the middle of a game. On top of how a mouthguard acts as a chewing gum substitute, it also has an advantage as it can help protect your mouth from sudden collisions, which are quite normal in a contact sport like basketball.

Mouthguards are some of what basketball players chew nowadays, as you can see a superstar like Stephen Curry chewing his mouthguard from time to time in the middle of a game. But, if you do prefer to chew chewing gum instead of a mouthguard, you are welcome to do so. It depends entirely on the player himself because chewing gum or mouthguard may or may not help players.

Are You Allowed to Chew Gum While Playing BasketballAre You Allowed to Chew Gum While Playing Basketball?

So, while we did discuss that chewing gum is entirely up to you when it comes to a basketball game, are there actual rules regarding chewing gum? Can you chew gum while you are playing the sport?

You need to know that no rules prohibit you from chewing gum during a basketball game. Both the NBA and the FIBA are silent in this matter as there are no specific guidelines that govern the act of chewing gum in any kind of basketball game, professional or amateur.

This means that, because the rules are silent regarding this matter, you can chew gum during a basketball game. The only thing that can stop you from doing so is an express rule from the basketball league you are playing in. After all, some sanitation issues can be related to chewing gum, especially if the gum accidentally slips out of your mouth.

Still, when it comes to the biggest leagues in the world, there are no express rules that will stop you from chewing gum. This is why there are still some NBA players that will chew gum from time to time. So, yes, there are still NBA players who do chew gum.

What are the Benefits of Chewing Gum While Playing BasketballWhat are the Benefits of Chewing Gum While Playing Basketball?

We have been talking about whether or not you should or can chew gum during a basketball game. But what are the reasons why some players chew gum when playing basketball? Why do basketball players even chew gum in the first place?

1. Focus

The first benefit that chewing gum can give a basketball player is improved focus. Studies have suggested that athletes show an improved level of focus when they are chewing gum during a game. This is due to how the activity of chewing gum is linked with an improvement in cognitive functions in the brain. It is the act of chewing that activates several brain parts responsible for cognitive processing.

So, the improvement in your brain’s cognitive processing can go a long way when it comes to improving your focus out on the court. And when the brain functions well enough together with your body, your overall performance can improve as the brain and the body would be able to function together more fluidly.

2. Increased memory

Another brain-related benefit that you can get from chewing gum during a basketball game is an improvement in your memory. Now, basketball is not only a physical sport but also a mental sport that requires you to use your memory in the sense that you need to remember offensive and defensive plays and teammate and opponent tendencies.

By chewing gum, you can improve the flow of blood to your brain and improve your memory. As such, you are more likely to perform better on the IQ side of the game, especially if you remember the plays you need to run during certain situations. And you can even take advantage of your opponent’s tendencies if you remember what they often do on both offense and defense.

3. Keeps you calm

Plenty of basketball players tend to feel jittery before and during games, especially when the stakes are high and the crowd is at its biggest. This can easily psyche a player out, especially if he is not used to the bright lights and the loud sounds in some of the biggest basketball stages.

One activity that can help keep you calm is chewing gum. Think of it as a way for you to take the edge off by diverting your attention and nerves towards the act of chewing gum. Some of the most fidgety players tend to use this to keep themselves calm without having to resort to unhealthy habits such as smoking or eating before and during a game.

4. Prevents the mouth from drying up

Any physical activity can quickly dehydrate a player because the body tends to use up your water reserves. In relation to that, an intense basketball game can quickly dehydrate anyone, but not all players can just take a break and then get a sip of water from the bench to keep themselves hydrated.

While chewing gum will not be as effective as water for rehydration, it can prevent your mouth from feeling dry. That is because the act of chewing has a psychological effect that would allow the mouth to produce saliva to break down whatever you are chewing. This prevents the mouth from feeling dry and parched in the middle of an intense basketball game without the need for you to drink water.

5. Keeps you from feeling sleepy

Some basketball games tend to be scheduled late in the day. Meanwhile, some games tend to be too physically tiring to the point that they can make a player feel drowsy in the middle of an intense game. You might have even experienced feeling sleepy in one of your games due to the physical exertion.

So, in that case, one of the ways you can keep yourself awake is to chew gum. This is because the act of chewing gum can keep your brain and your mouth busy enough to prevent you from feeling bored or exhausted.

6. Burns calories

If you are playing basketball not only for fun or to improve as an athlete but also as a way to lose weight, chewing gum can help burn extra calories as your mouth works throughout the entire activity. 

Every calorie counts when it comes to losing weight. An hour of chewing gum can burn off 10 to 15 calories an hour. While that is not too much to make a huge difference in your fitness goals, this can still make a difference if ten calories prevent you from going under your daily calorie intake.

Does Chewing Gum Really Increase Basketball Game PerformanceDoes Chewing Gum Really Increase Basketball Game Performance?

While there are some benefits to chewing gum in the middle of a game, does it improve your overall performance in basketball? Not necessarily.

The act of chewing gum does have its benefits, but such benefits may not always be enough to suddenly drastically improve the way you play the game. It does give you certain advantages, but this is not always true for some players who do not really see any real benefits in chewing gum during a game of basketball.

In a sense, it does depend on the player. Some players do see an improvement in their performance while others do not. In some ways, it becomes entirely psychological. And even if you do see the benefits that chewing gum can offer when you are playing basketball, such benefits are not entirely so advantageous to the point that you will suddenly see yourself doing things you do not normally do during a game.

But, as they say, every advantage counts when the stakes are at the highest. Chewing gum might not give you a huge advantage, but a competitive basketball player will do anything to get an advantage over an opponent.

Why Do Basketball Players Chew GumWhy Do Basketball Players Chew Gum?

When you watch NBA games or some other professional basketball game, you will notice that some of these basketball players tend to chew gum. But why do NBA players chew gum?

The most likely reason why NBA players chew gum is that it has become a habit to them. NBA players are the best basketball players in the world. They do not need to chew gum to show why they are as great as they are.

However, because they may have been chewing gum years before they even started playing in the NBA or any other professional basketball league, these players have built a habit of doing so regardless of whether or not it does give them an advantage during a game.

5 NBA Players Who Love to Chew Gum5 NBA Players Who Love to Chew Gum

If you want a list of NBA players who were known to chew gum during their time or even up to now, here are some of the most notable names:

1. Michael Jordan

MJ is probably the most notable person who chews gum during basketball games. This has led to an entire generation of basketball players chewing gum in the middle of the game without them even knowing why they do so.

2. Kobe Bryant

The late great Kobe Bryant also chewed gum a lot during games probably because he picked the habit from his idol, Michael Jordan.

3. Tracy McGrady

T-Mac is another one of those players who grew up watching Michael Jordan as a young boy. As such, he was a notable player who chewed gum while dropping 40 to 50 points on a regular basis during his prime.

4. Ray Allen

As one of the greatest shooters of all time, Ray Allen chewed gum a lot. And it probably helped his focus because he ultimately became the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point shots made.

5. Stephen Curry

While not exactly a man who chews gum, Stephen Curry is the most notable name when it comes to chewing in today’s generation because he is known to chew his mouthguard. Chewing mouthguards has been the best alternative to chewing gum.

Wrapping Things Up: Why Do Basketball Players Chew Gum?

The act of chewing a piece of gum has been scientifically proven to have certain benefits that can help a basketball player in the middle of a game. It can help keep you mentally focused and alert throughout a game while also giving you a way to calm your nerves in the biggest basketball stages in your life.

However, because basketball has always been about your own personal training, both physically and mentally, chewing gum is not a miracle maker that would suddenly take you to greater heights. In some cases, it does help a player, but you should not be expecting gum to make a drastic change in the way you play.

In many cases, chewing gum has become a sport that is entirely dependent on a player’s personal experience. It may or may not help a player in relation to his game, but there is no harm in trying it out. You would never know for certain but chewing a piece of gum or even your mouthguard may actually be the missing piece in helping you out in terms of your focus and overall mental clarity during a big basketball game.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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