Abstinence is not a new tactic when it comes to sports competitions. Ancient Greeks restricted sex ahead of major events and some athletes still do it today. But does sex really affect athletic performance? Judging by the current World Cup, a strict sex ban doesn’t help to win. “All the teams known to have banned that kind of scoring in Brazil have been knocked out
.” Specific sex rules seem to have less negative impact. In today’s quarter finals, France vs. Germany and Brazil vs. Colombia, different guidelines come into play.
In sports psychology the importance of aggression, alertness, anxiety, and an attitude toward competition are emphasized. Some athletes believe that abstaining from sex builds up testosterone and aggression.
Other common concerns about pre-game sex include that athletes could be tired and weak or psychologically affected. For one of the world’s most watched sports event, the World Cup, the coaches have different sex rules:
Germany’s squad can get jiggy, but not the night before the match and for the players of the French squad all night long sex is banned. For Brazil, acrobatic sex is out of the question during the entire tournament. The only unknown in terms of sex policy is Colombia, the eighth squad still vying for the US$35 million prize money
So what about scientific evidence one way or the other?
Emmanuele A. Jannini, professor of endocrinology at the University of L'Aquila in Italy, has found that sex in fact stimulates the production of testosterone, thus boosting aggression.
A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that “testosterone improves leg power. Power is required in quick, explosive movements.
In 2000 Sztajzel, Periat, Marti, Krall, & Rutishauser demonstrated “that sexual activity had no detrimental influence on the maximal workload achieved and on the athletes' mental concentration.
” They also found that “the recovery capacity of an athlete could be affected if he had sexual intercourse approximately 2 hours before a competition event.”
While “optimal sleep is likely beneficial in reaching peak athletic performance
” (sprinting faster, reacting quicker and shooting more accurate) sounds like a no-brainer, sleeping with someone could in fact decrease sleep time. But by how much? Well, if we believe Canadian and American sex therapists, normative intercourse lasts between 3 to 13 minutes
. And burns not more calories than walking up two flights of stairs.