How Smoking Impacts Tennis Players

Last Updated on January 3, 2024 by Joan Hahn

Smoking has long been recognized as a detrimental habit that affects numerous aspects of health, and its impact on sports performance is no exception.

When it comes to tennis, none of today’s top stars are thought to smoke. However, pioneering female player Rosie Casals did – in 1968, she admitted to having one a day and would grab cigarettes from fans after matches! 

She was even once asked to change out of a dress at Wimbledon because of subtle advertising for Virginia Slims, a brand of the day.

In a physically demanding and highly competitive sport, it’s ludicrous to think professional players might light up today, but what about amateurs? 

If you’re someone who knocks about for fun with friends at the weekend but still likes a cigarette socially, you’re doing yourself no favors.

Now, we will discuss how smoking hinders tennis performance, as well as the ways you can take to break the habit.

Cardiovascular & Respiratory Function 

damaged lungs

Smoking is known to cause damage to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. 

The chemicals in tobacco smoke, such as nicotine and carbon monoxide, lead to decreased lung capacity and lower oxygen intake. 

For tennis players, who rely heavily on cardiovascular fitness to perform at their best, smoking can hinder their endurance and stamina on the court. 

Reduced lung capacity and compromised respiratory function can leave players gasping for breath and unable to sustain long rallies or intense matches.

Check out these best supplements for tennis players here.

Physical Endurance 

Playing tennis requires a high level of physical fitness, including quick reflexes and stamina for the long rallies that separate points.  

Smoking affects lung function and reduces the body’s overall endurance levels. 

The toxic substances in cigarettes can lead to increased fatigue and decreased muscle strength, making it challenging for players to maintain their performance during long matches. 

Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic played an epic 26-minute game during their Wimbledon final, proving neither uses tobacco. 

Why? Because smokers will find themselves tiring more quickly and struggling to keep up with the demands of the game, especially a 26-minute or three-hour match.

Find out how you can get fit for tennis here.

Injury and Recovery 

Tennis players often face the risk of injuries due to the repetitive nature of the sport and the high-impact movements involved, even at an amateur level.

Smoking can hamper the body’s ability to recover from injuries efficiently. The toxins in tobacco smoke can slow down the healing process and compromise the body’s natural repair mechanisms.

For tennis players, this can mean longer recovery times, increased susceptibility to injuries, and a prolonged absence from training and competition.

How To Quit

branded vape

No doubt, smoking is imperative if you wish to enjoy your tennis to the maximum, but it isn’t that easy. People find it hard to stub out the habit, but in 2023, you can approach it in many ways.

The most popular is nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). NRTs help you quit smoking by administering nicotine to the body without combustion and smoke. They’re designed to be discreet, suit a range of needs and help wean you from the habit for good. You may have seen people vaping recently – it is a form of NRT. 

However, flavored vapes, such as those imposed on Juul Labs products, make vaping less popular. Also, you can’t vape while in the middle of a rally.Instead, a discreet product such as a nicotine pouch is a good option. This small pouch sits between your lip and gum, slowly releasing nicotine. 

They tend to last for thirty minutes, so they may need to be removed or replaced during a game, but they are smoke-free, making them a sensible option. 

One popular brand is ZYN nicotine pouches which exemplify why the product works so well. 

ZYN’s pouches come in multiple flavors, such as citrus, wintergreen, and coffee, meaning the experience can be tailored to your palate, making it easy to stick to the task of giving up and ensuring you take tobacco beyond break point.

There are also nicotine patches, which have been popular for many years and are another viable NRT alternative. They are transdermal patch that fixes to your arm like a band-aid but releases nicotine slowly into the bloodstream. 

They’re suitable for tennis players because they often last longer – up to 24 hours, meaning a game wouldn’t need to be interrupted. They’re also discreet; the Nicorette Invisi patch is clear, meaning even your opponent won’t know you’re battling on two fronts – against their baseline serves and the craving for nicotine.

Also Read: Simple Tips To Become A Professional Tennis Player


Tennis is a game that requires great concentration, physical fitness, and practice. Smoking is not conducive to any of those attributes, so if you plan a racquet, it’s time to ditch the cigarettes for good.

If you have managed to kick the habit and want to get better at tennis, it might be worth checking out our piece titled ‘How to Improve Footwork in Tennis.’

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