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Why does Steph Curry chew his mouthguard?

Warriors’ star Steph Curry’s bad habit may be gross, but he simply performs better because of it. How did Curry start this strange, albeit effective habit?

Jennifer Bubel
Warriors' star Steph Curry's bad habit may be gross, but he simply performs better because of it. How did Curry start this strange, albeit effective habit?

If you’ve watched Steph Curry play basketball, then you’ve seen him chewing on his mouthguard. His habit is as consistent as his ability to make shots, and that may not be a coincidence.

Where did Curry’s mouthguard-chewing habit come from?

The Golden State Warriors superstar has been wearing a mouthguard during his entire NBA career, and even before that, he was wearing it playing college ball. Well, “wearing” may be giving Curry too much credit, as it’s usually hanging out of the side of his mouth while he chomps on it like a cow, if that cow were the greatest three-point shooter in the NBA.

Okay, but the way Curry “wears” his would not have helped him in this scenario either.

In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel back in 2015 (I told you, this is a long-time habit that ain’t bein’ broken any time soon), he explained how the infamous mouthguard came to be. It started in 2007 when he was playing at Davidson and was elbowed in the face. He had a busted lip and wore a mouthguard at every game after that. “And then every year it’s kind of gotten farther and farther away from my teeth,” Curry told Kimmel.

It’s not exactly the nicest habit to have to look at, of course. Curry’s mother, Sonya, particularly dislikes it.

“I’ve made my peace with it. It’s never going to change,” Sonya said. “He still bites his fingernails. He flicks his nose, from all his allergies. And the mouthguard.” We can always count on our moms to call us out and keep us humble.

Curry said that chewing on the mouthpiece helps to calm him down and keep him focused. He especially relies on it when making free throws. A dedicated (or bored) fan decided to study Curry’s free throws back in 2016 to see if the chewing habit really did make a difference in his success. It turns out, the study showed that Curry shoots 3% better at the free-throw line when the mouthguard is out, sitting on the side of his mouth for him to gnaw.

If I were Curry, I wouldn’t question it either. Maybe it’s a combination of things, but before we go saying “ew” to Curry’s drool-covered mouthguard dangling from his mouth, let’s remember that he’s made 90.8% of his free throws throughout his career.

In Curry’s mouthguard we trust!

Why does Steph Curry chew his mouthguard?