Music in sports

ATHENS - AUGUST 15: Michael Phelps of USA prepares to compete in the men's swimming 200 metre freestyle heat on August 15, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Main Pool of the Olympic Sports Complex Aquatic Centre in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Michael Phelps

You see athletes in all sports walking around with their headphones on getting ready for their game or match or event or whatever they were going to compete in. And I’m sure they all have different songs and genres of music that get them psyched and in the mood and ready to play. I always wondered though if listening to music before sports actually would help your performance.

Dr Costas Karageorghis, the leading researcher in music’s effects on performance, often refers to music as a performance enhancing drug, that you can’t be penalized for using obviously. His research has shown that music enhances athletic performance and can help with visualizing how you’re going to perform and ultimately what the end result will be after your competition.

Music in general has been shown to help in disassociating your mind. This basically means that the music can help athletes by distracting their mind in a way, from feelings of fatigue during performance The disassociation is really shown in endurance sport, such as running, swimming and cycling. An interesting fact, researchers in the UK have found that music can benefit athletes by improving their levels of effort up to 12% and their endurance up to 15%.

Flow is an alternate state of mind, most athletes will refer to it as being in the zone. Some athletes use their music to help them get into this zone and get ready to go and compete. The music has also shown benefits of aiding in visualization while the athletes are in the zone. The music helps in visualizing how they’re going to compete and what the result will be after their competition. Music help the athletes reach that top level of focus and concentration while putting all else aside in their life and just focusing on their competition visualizations.

All in all, I think music definitely has benefits in performance and endurance throughout competition. One thing I think though with music, especially in sports, is when athletes listen to certain songs they get into the zone and are excited to compete and are more relaxed which can help them perform better. Me personally I compete better when I am relaxed, having fun and just competing. I think the music can help some athletes relax and escape everything in their life just to focus on the one task at hand and perform to the best of their abilities and worry about all the rest later. It is also very interesting to me just to see how powerful your mind can be. For me at least it seems as if this is all mental that then translates to your physical performance. You’re thinking about competing and visualizing what you want to happen and to see how much it improves your performance is very intriguing. 

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6 thoughts on “Music in sports

  1. Brian Cunningham

    Something interesting to also think about here is the same way some video game music is designed. Well-designed game music should give you the feeling of a “flow” that doesn’t distract from what you’re trying to accomplish, but also allows you to feel something that DOES distract you from the actual stress of a sort of high-stakes situation.

  2. Amanda Voirrey Rust

    I like the point you brought up in your blog, and it does make sense that different types of music can produce different mood changes. Even at Penn State football games, the music they play on the speakers clearly has a positive effect on people’s energy, because the crowd always cheers energetically. I found a study in which middle-aged women were prompted to listen to different types of music during exercise, and it concluded that there was less fatigue while listening to folk and aerobic music vs. not listening to music at all. Even though this study is measuring fatigue and relaxation, I would predict that similar results would be prevalent if it was done on athletes levels of endurance and excitement.

  3. Zachary Jacob Himel

    I’ve found that if I plan on working out, I must also plan on listening to music. It’s easy to notice what songs get me the most psyched to lift the most weight. I found a nice list of songs that are specifically for getting pumped up for an activity. If I go to the gym without music I probably won’t get anything done that day. Here is the list of songs that I found to be good for working out:

  4. Marvin Barnhill

    Music has always helped me in any sport I played, but specifically running, as mentioned above, its done great things for me. The notion of that “distraction” is extremely important in means of effort. When running around the track theres plenty of times where I tell myself “I can’t do it” or “that’s enough.” Thats a completely different conversation when my headphones are in. I feel like I can always do more, or I’m so focused on the song I don’t even notice how far I’ve gone. Regardless, music is great for exercise and sports.

  5. John Rutledge

    As a golfer, I always listen to classic rock before I play a round. I have done an experiment on this actually. For 5 rounds of golf, I listened to rap music and saw what I scored. After that, I played 5 rounds while I listened to classic rock before I played. I actually was able to score 4-5 strokes better when listening to classic rock. Music effects our emotions substantially and so what you listen to actually matters. I happen to enjoy both genres of music equally, but I just happened to perform better when listening to a certain one.

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