“Women weaken legs!” said boxing manager Mickey Goldmill in the original “Rocky.” And that single line has influenced generations of horny athletes since 1976.
But the advice to repress all sexual desire — and channel that energy towards a sport instead — may actually be as bad as it feels. All four 2014 World Cup teams that enforced sex bans were eliminated early (and only Chile made it to the quarterfinals).
Abstaining just doesn’t lead to winning, so we spoke with Dr. Michael Sachs, a consultant for the Association For Applied Sports Psychology, to learn why this myth is a myth.
Sex Can Help You Focus
Maybe Russia’s goalkeeper would’ve had an easier time with that laser pointer if his team hadn’t banned hooking up. “For somebody that’s used to having regular sexual relationships with regular means, to be asked to abstain could inhibit one’s ability to perform,” Sachs said, “because you’re physically changing the rules and psychologically doing something distracting.”
In other words, if you’re getting lucky regularly, the night before a game is no time to shut that down. Suddenly going celibate messes with your head and ruins your concentration. “If part of your regular routine is having sex and it’s part of your lifestyle,” Sachs told us, “then that might be physically and psychologically positive in terms of training and preparing for competition.”
The flip side? The night before a game is also no time to break a dry spell for the exact same reason. Whatever you’ve been doing in bed, keep on keeping on.
Sex Won’t Drain Your Stamina (In Moderation)
It’s a sprint, not a marathon! The average guy only lasts five minutes during sex. That’s not much physical activity, especially for a professional athlete.
“If it’s 10 minutes with somebody, that’s one thing,” Sachs says, but he cautions, “If you’re doing it for four hours with multiple partners, that’s different.”
You’ll Save Energy With A Steady Partner
So, if sex is only a few minutes of exertion, why are coaches convinced that it tuckers athletes out? Because going to bars, drinking all night while trying to find a hookup partner, is tiring. “It’s not the sex the night before, it’s the looking for it that’s the problem,” Sachs explained.
Making sweet love to your significant other won’t exhaust resources that could be used for competition, so play all the Marvin Gaye you can stand.
Happy Players Are Effective Players
When your love life temporarily stalls, you sit on the couch all depressed, not wanting to move a muscle. Then, after you get lucky again, you suddenly have the energy to jump around your apartment. Think that’s a coincidence? Sex makes people happy, and happiness gives us energy.
Sex doesn’t have to be monogamous to help with competition; it just has to be good. “The bottom line is whether or not it’s a positive experience,” Sachs told us. “If…they’re positive experiences, and that’s something you thrive on, that’s fine.”
Ultimately, sex should be like the sport you’re about to play: If you aren’t going to try, get off the field.