Why do hockey players spit all the time? (Explained)

If you’ve ever seen a hockey game, whether live or on television, one thing you’ll notice pretty quickly is that hockey players tend to spit, a lot.

Whether it be on the bench or on the ice, there is spit flying everywhere. Let’s get into the reason behind all the loogies being spit out during a hockey game.

Hockey players spit so much during a game because they are breathing in cold air at a fast rate through their mouths; this leads to particles entering their lungs, which produces far more phlegm than normal. Causing them to spit to clear their airways.

High intensity sports lead to excessive phlegm production

why hockey players spit

In further detail; hockey is an extremely physically demanding sport, throughout a game players are breathing at a faster rate and breathing in much larger volumes of oxygen into their lungs than the average person typically does.

Normally, when a person who is not performing physical exercise, the air they breathe is moistened and warmed up through the nasal passage before it even enters your lungs.

But, when performing high intensity exercises that cause you to breathe deeper and faster, like hockey, it’s common for you to breathe in through your mouth rather than your nose, this causes dry and cool particles to directly enter your lungs.

This contributes to what is known as excessive phlegm production and is why hockey players spit so much.

Why do hockey players spit out water?

Players don’t just spit, often times they can be seen spitting out water after taking a sip from their water bottles.

Hockey players spit out water because water, more specifically, cold water, can cause intense cramping of the stomach during high intensity exercise, like playing hockey.

Instead of drinking, players will use the water to rinse their mouths out to get rid of the dryness that comes with sucking in cold dry air through their mouth.

Typically, players will only drink small amounts of water throughout a period and rehydrate during intermissions once their bodies have cooled down.

A lot of times, they will even rinse their mouths with sports drinks, but for an entirely different reason than rinsing with water.

Rinsing with sports drinks like Powerade or Gatorade has been proven to not only delay fatigue, but also increase physical performance. This was proven in a study performed by a sports science research group.

Is spitting allowed in hockey?

There is currently no written rule that prevents hockey players from spitting on the ice. However, according to the NHL rule book (rule 23.8) spitting on an opponent, referee, or fan will result in a game misconduct and is subject to further discipline at the hands of the commissioner.

This has slightly changed during recent times, with all that has been going on in the world, causing leagues to shut down etc. Leagues are starting to ask their players to refrain from spitting as much as possible during a game.

Of course, if it’s an accident, there will be no action taken.

Gotta See It: Bernier accidentally spits on ice crew

When it comes down to it, hockey players aren’t spitting to be gross and there is an actual scientific reason for it.

Still, it’s pretty gross.

Was this post helpful?

What’s up! I’m Shayne, and I’ve been immersed in the world of winter sports since before I could walk. My dad was a hockey player who had a passion for snowmobiling, which he passed down to me, and my mom was a figure skater who loved to take us on snowboarding and skiing trips as kids. Safe to say, I’ve learned so much about most winter sports over the years and have a passion for passing on my knowledge to others, as my parents did with me.