Cigarette Smoke Is Detrimental to Volleyball Players – Here’s How Athletes Can Quit And Stay Fit

Micah Drews


Volleyball is a widely popular competitive and recreational sport. According to Northern California Volleyball Association or NCVA data, there are over 46 million players in the US alone. Comparably, there are a little over 28 million smokers in the country, and it’s not far-fetched to assume that a fraction of players may be smokers as well. After all, a Preventative Community Medicine study found that players of team sports are up to seven times more likely to be smokers – and smoke before training – compared to individual sprint or resistance athletes. Given the obvious and well-documented health impacts of smoking, it may be necessary for volleyball players looking to go pro (or improve their fitness levels) to drop cigarettes for good.

How cigarettes harm volleyball players

On the volleyball field, players are pushed to their limits. In an analysis of 179 men’s beach volleyball sets during an FIVB world tour, researchers discovered players jumped up to 85 times per match every 42 seconds. There can be 78 to 96 rallies in a single game. Per the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the mean distance covered in just one rally can reach 41 feet. Thus, cardiovascular fitness is essential for athletes, which smoking can affect. Research from Vascular Medicine has shown that cigarette smoking can damage the vascular endothelium; when this inner cellular lining of the heart is affected, volleyball players may suffer from reduced blood flow to vital organs and muscles, affecting overall cardiovascular health and impacting in-game performance.

Secondly, volleyball players need superior agility to perform defensive maneuvers, transition between positions, and anticipate potential ball movements. A small-group study published in Addiction and Health found that smokers exhibited lower speed and agility rates compared to non-smokers. Finally, volleyball players are prone to injuries. The Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research documents 10.7 musculoskeletal injuries per 1000 hours of volleyball played. Smoking can significantly prolong injury times and quality of recovery. A Tobacco Regulatory Science study studied injured volleyball players who lived in a smoke-free environment for ten weeks. The group showed significant bone and joint injury recovery differences compared to the control group. These findings highlight the importance of smoking cessation for committed volleyball players.

Swapping to smokeless alternatives

Volleyball players who want to leave cigarettes behind now have various options to eliminate tobacco smoke from their routine. Nicotine alternatives such as nicotine pouches from brands like ZYN and VELO have hit the market, providing odorless and smoke-free ways to quit cigarettes while minimizing the risk of cigarette-related withdrawal symptoms, which could be debilitating enough to cause players to miss training days. As such, ZYN pouches are made for those who are trying to avoid the health side effects of tobacco. The medium-strength ZYN Menthol 6mg provides a refreshing flavor similar to menthol cigarettes; players could then transition to ZYN Menthol 3mg once ready for a lower nicotine dose. Unlike cigarettes, which require players to step out and take time-consuming breaks, alternatives like pouches facilitate a discreet and unobtrusive experience.

In our Ultimate Guide to Snack Bars post, we discussed the convenience of snack bars in keeping energy levels stable throughout the day. Some athletes might eat chocolate or candy before a workout, as the small burst of glucose can provide a quick energy boost without compromising their diet. If you’re quitting smoking and have this oral fixation, you can turn to nicotine alternatives that offer a similar experience, such as the LUCY pouches with Breakers. These pouches feature an inner, jewel-like capsule providing an additional flavor burst and hydrating properties. Available in flavors like Berry Citrus and Espresso, these candy-like flavors may help quitters stay on track when tobacco cravings hit.

Finally, a Journal of IMAB study surveyed athletes and found that 80% said they were smoking due to stress. Along with the above alternatives, engaging in stress-relief activities outside of sports may help volleyball players stay off cigarettes for good – and stay at the top of their game.

About Micah Drews

After playing volleyball at an international level for several years, I now work out and write for Volleyball Blaze. Creating unique and insightful perspectives through my experience and knowledge is one of my top priorities.

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