Skip navigation

Tag Archives: listening to music

Athletes are always searching for ways to improve their performance. The desire to run faster, jump higher or lift more lets them search for the next edge.

Many swear by listening to music while in the gym to help them achieve this. But does music actually help athletic performance?

Feel Fitter

Research shows that listening to music at the same time exercising can reduce your rate of perceived effort by up to 12% and improve your endurance by up to 15%.

However, it is worth considering the tempo of the music, since recent research from Liverpool John Moores University gives more nuanced findings. It found that slowing the tempo of the music decreased the participant’s heart rate and distance covered on a bike, while quickening the tempo increased heart rate and the enjoyment of both the music and exercise.

Stops Negative Thoughts

Listening to music improves the performance of athletes by distracting them from the negative thoughts that may consume the mind and hinder performance. Recent research has showed that basketball players who had to performing under pressure converted more free-throw shots when they had listened to an upbeat piece of music beforehand, because this distracted them from the pressure of performing in front of a crowd.

Activates Autopilot

Listening to music can encourage athletes to operate on autopilot, outside their conscious awareness. Having elite athletes operate on autopilot is beneficial, according to a recent study which found that when elite golfers were asked to take a putt as fast as possible, they had a higher success rate, compared to when they took their time.

High pressure situations might lead to overthinking, but as an athlete operates on autopilot, this doesn’t occur and movements are naturally performed.

Controls Emotions

Research has shown that athletes can use music to manipulate their emotions before a competition. Athlete Dame Kelly Holmes said she listened to Alicia Keys ballads as part of her pre-event routine for the 2004 Olympic Games, which relaxed her and allowed her to peak her performance.