The Non-League Football Paper

Put out the pre-game fag! How smoking could be affecting your footballing performance

These days, sport is more competitive than ever on all levels. No matter whether you are hoping to play for a Premier League team, or whether you’re hoping for a spot on your team’s 5-a-side squad, you will need to ensure that you are in the best possible physical shape in order to give you the best chance of success.

In order to do this, you need to be in control of all of your bad habits – such as smoking – as these habits can negatively affect your game in a huge way. Despite the fact that big names such as Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney openly smoke, they have received a lot of negative attention for it – showing just how frowned upon smoking is in football as a whole.

The effect on your cardiovascular fitness

If you want to play football, you will need to have the ability to run around the pitch for 90 minutes – which is no easy task, even for someone at the peak of their fitness levels.

Many lesser-able players find that although they are able to play well in the first half of the game, by the time the game is drawing to a close they are no longer able to play to their full potential thanks to the fact that they are out of breath. If you are a smoker, you are likely to find it even more difficult than most to achieve the level of fitness that is really needed in order to play well.

This is due to the chemicals in the cigarettes, most notably carbon monoxide, which can prevent the oxygen that you breathe in from being absorbed into your blood. This can have a huge effect on the way that your muscles are supplied with oxygen, which can therefore stop them from performing properly at key moments during your game. If you could compare your abilities as a smoker with those of a non-smoker, you are likely to notice a difference in the rate of tiredness during the game. Someone at their best possible physical ability may be able to run more effectively for longer during the game.

Your ability to recover from injury

No matter what sport you may be playing, injuries are simply something that need to be dealt with from time to time. Most footballers will have some small, niggling injuries after practically every game – however if they are fit and well, they will be able to recover well in time for the next game. If you are a smoker, though, you will find that it is much harder, and it will take you longer to recover than it would have done if you weren’t a smoker.

The reason for this is because the chemicals that cigarettes contain can prevent the muscle fibres from repairing themselves. This means that you will be much less able to deal with the amount of exercise involved in the game of football, as any damage done will be repaired more slowly than may have been the case in the past. You may have a misconception that such effects only happen if you’re older, and have been smoking for a number of years, but this is not the case.

Every single cigarette can have a negative effect on your fitness – even if you may not notice this difference if you only smoke occasionally. Over time, however, the damage will build up, and some of it will be irreversible, and this means that it is certainly worth trying to avoid smoking if possible, or to use some form of smoking alternative to help transition away from cigarettes for good.


Although you probably won’t lose your form overnight if you are a smoker, there is still a huge reason why it is so frowned upon in the sport as a whole. When you consider the fact that there are so many ways in which you can try to address your addiction to smoking, it makes sense to try – as you can then ensure that you are completely dedicated to your team, and to bringing your best possible performance to the table.

You may well be an amazing technical player with top quality abilities, however in a game that is as competitive as football, every single thing that can set players apart from each other makes a difference, and this means that you should be doing anything possible to take your game up a level.

Quitting smoking can be a great step in this respect, and is certainly something that is worth considering for the future.

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