Sportsmyths: sex before a game – do or don’t?

I think soccer player contracts should have a clause going something like: the player has to have sex on the day before a game and, if possible, on the day of the game. When I do it before a game I feel different. I feel lighter, my legs are more nimble. … If I don’t have sex on the day before a game, something will be missing. ” Romario

Can sex and sport mix?

Can sex and sport mix?

Some athletes, including Linford Christie, never do “it” before competition. “Abstinence makes you more aggressive,” he says. Others claim the opposite: “Good attackers score better if they have had sex the day before the game” Brazilian former footballer Romario once claimed.

It seems the experts don’t agree. One hypothesis states that sex increases testosterone levels in the body and thus produces a natural form of doping. The other states that sex decreases testosterone concentration and influx.


Sex before the match was not such an item for former professional road cyclist Peter Winnen. It did however, play a role in the peloton, but Peter Winnen regarded it more as a form of superstition.  Belgians especially were followers of the theory that sex is bad for performance. A Belgian rider claimed to be so afraid of losing power that he slept with an elastic band around his penis.

Sex during the match?

Movement Scientist Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping from the University of Groningen is a firm supporter of the ‘Romario doctrine’: sex, and in particular orgasm increases the presence of certain sex hormones such as oxytocin. This hormone has a positive psychological effect on athletes. Even sex during the game has been claimed to improve performance: in a sport like snooker breaks are often long enough for a stimulating ‘get-together’.

Listen to the interview (in Dutch).

Also read this article in Dutch here.

Also see:
Are sport and sex a recipe for success?
Pre-game sex: a do or a don’t?


Gert-Jan Pepping is an Associate Professor in Human Movement at the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences of AUstralian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia.

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Posted in My own research, Science General, Sport Science

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