Imagine an athlete getting ready to step out on the court or track without getting in the zone using music. It’s hard right? As music becomes easier to access and download, it becomes more evident in everyday life and becomes more than just a background noise. Current studies by sport psychologists show that music is more than just a distraction while engaging in physical activity. It actually enhances performance. Many factors contribute to the enhancement like the memories affiliated with the song or the singers emotion through the lyrics (Jabr).
With this being said, given the right type of music, an athlete’s performance level can increase up to twenty percent (Serendip). Performance will vary depending on the type of music the athlete is listening to. Two types of music include synchronous music and asynchronous music. Synchronous music has a constant and vivid beat (Serendip). The tempo of the song goes with the tempo of the physical activity (Newman). This kind of music was proven to heighten performance by twenty percent. Asynchronous music is much less dominant and was proven to actually calm nerves up to ten percent.
This is more of a background music to be able to relieve stress (Serendip). The tempo does not match the tempo of the physical activity but that that does not mean it is less influential. Because the two types of music are compared to a non music control group, it is almost impossible to distinguish which is more efficient (Newman). Tempo and rhythm response are the two most crucial qualities of music while doing physical activity. Rhythm response is how you react to a song whether it is nodding along or not moving at all.
Most people automatically synchronize their body movements along with the beat of the music like tapping their hands against table or nodding their head. Because everyone does not have the same taste in music, different genres can trigger this response depending on who is listening to it. Songs with a fast tempo tend to be more stimulating than songs with a slow beat. This is why most people fill their playlist with synchronous music to propel them through the workout or get them pumped up for a game (Jabr).
Dr. Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at Brunel University, came up with four main divisions of the effects of music on an athlete’s performance. The first is that music can distract an athlete from fatigue and follows with music is a mood altering catalyst. The third states that music can synchronize an athlete’s rhythm and movement and fourth concludes that music can act as a trigger for learning certain motions and aid with muscle memory (Serendip).
While distracting people from fatigue, music elevates a person’s mood, enhances endurance, disguises parts of effort needed to complete the workout, and can possibly increase metabolic efficiency (Jabr). Music distracts an athlete, because they are more likely to divert their attention from external pain or discomfort (Newman). Because the athlete is listening to music, they often do not realize how far they have run, biked, or pushed past their perceived limitations. The same Dr. Costas suggested that one could think of music as, “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug (abr).
Saying that music is a mind altering catalyst means that it is a tool that can change an athlete’s mood or overall mindset. At Milligan College in Tennessee, a study on the effects of music for performance was conducted. Those administering the study used the priming method. This means that they will tell the experimentee what their outcome will be before they actually complete the experiment. Priming is especially effective on testing hypothesis in physical exercise performance.
Because the researchers are pre-conditioning the subjects to particular results and attitudes, the real and uncut effects can be accounted for. Ninety-one college students were divided into three even groups and had to run several laps while listening to music for a certain amount of time. Group A was told that music would heighten their ability, Group B was told that music would decrease their ability, and Group C was the control group so they were not convinced of anything before the experiment. The results showed that preconceived thoughts on how music will affect an athlete’s performance are vital.
Because Group A was convinced of a positive outcome, they ran the farthest of the three groups. Group B ran the slowest because they were convinced of negative affects. Group C ran between the middle of Group A and Group B because they had to decide for themselves if music would affect them or not. The point of this study was to demonstrate that not only can music help performance, but the way a person thinks about the music and what they think they can get from it directly relates to performance levels (Serendip).
By synchronizing an athlete’s rhythm and movement, music helps the body use energy more efficiently. When moving to a steady beat, the body does not have to make as many adjustments to coordinated movements as it would with a sporadic tempo. C. J. Bacon from Hallam University, Dr. Costas, and other colleagues supervised a study on two groups of cyclists: one listened to music, and the other did not. The cyclist who pedaled to music required seven percent less oxygen than the ones thats were not using music.
This happened because music can act as a metronome and aid in keeping a steady pace When the brain receives music, it responds with a movement. This is why music can act as a trigger for learning certain motions and aid with muscle memory. It is said that music is an extension of the human body because of the fact that before the invention of musical instruments, people probably used their bodies as a way to make beats and songs (Jabr).
Songs hold memories internally and externally so that’s why an athlete is able to better remember something if they listen to songs in practice and again before or during a game. Because of all of the scientific studies and positive results, it is safe to say that music does indeed affect an athlete’s performance level. Odds are, music will not have a negative effect. Look out for athlete’s listening to music at the next sporting event and see if their pregame pump up enhances their performance.