Can Music Improve Athletic Performance?

Can Music Improve Athletic Performance?

Music can really set a mood – a little classical
or jazz might relax your whole body, while pop or rock music can get your blood pumping
for a night out on the town. But if music can seemingly enhance a mindset, or help you
resist mental fatigue, can it also affect athletic performance? The term ‘synchronous music’ refers to uptempo
songs with a strong beat that coincide with the repetitive movements of a sport. And it’s
this type of music that leads to a higher work output in athletes, particularly in sports
that involve endurance with rhythmic or repetitive movements, such as cross country skiing. This
was put into practice as Haile Gebrselassie famously synchronised his running stride to
the rhythmical pop song “Scatman” when breaking the 10,000m world record. Studies show that music can act as both a
cognitive and physical stimulant, especially when the music has a personal meaning to the
individual. For athletes who suffer from pre-competition anxiety, music can be used to enhance mood,
self-esteem and confidence. Even during competition, music can narrow an athlete’s attention, diverting
focus away from sensations of fatigue. In studies of athletes using music, those
who listened to pop songs during training or warm ups had higher heart rates, and increased
muscle power compared to those who trained without music. Furthermore, because music
can trigger emotion, it was documented to enhance mental imagery – a technique in which
athletes picture themselves mastering a sport before competition. This state of mind is
crucial for all athletes, particularly before major events. Funny enough, coaches even withhold
music from athletes sometimes, as a motivational tool. Athletes are told they can use music
during training sessions, only once they have reached a specific productivity level. So which music works best? Almost all findings
found that listening to music – period – regardless of composition or speed, enhanced performance
compared to no music. However, music with an upbeat tempo of greater than 120 bpm, yielded
the greatest improvements. Science says, make a pump up playlist full
of your favourite upbeat songs of the time, and blast the competition away. Don’t forget: we have a new video out every day during the Olympics. Can’t wait? Our amazing partners at the CBC already have five of the videos up now for you to binge on. Just head to to watch them before anyone else. Link in the description. But we also want to know your questions for this special series. Use the hashtag ScienceSays and let us know your burning Olympic questions. And subscribe for more awesome science videos.

99 Comments on “Can Music Improve Athletic Performance?”

  1. Is there any way that you could post sources for this information?! 😀 your videos inspire me, but of course I don't want to steal all of your ideas!

  2. I'm not sure why I get more pumped from Hans Zimmer and classical music which gives that "epic" effect during a heavy one rep max than rock or rap. And it's lower pace.

  3. The only problem with using music for training is that an athlete can get so accustomed to it that when there is no music, his/her body will not operate at the same level. The body gets "addicted" to the music, and cannot function without it. This ordinarily would not be a problem, but for a professional athlete, it very well could be. 

  4. i know it a little late but, i find it easier to concentrate when listening to fast music, like 150+ BPM and i am still not sure why

  5. Yes it makes different your olimpic live and for me relives the pain that we feel of the things that are hapening now.

  6. So, stuff like Dubstep ups the performance? Just asking because it is very synchronized and I even noticed the faster the beats per minute, the faster I was going.

    So back to original question, can it?

  7. Whenever I'm walking and I start walking to the beat of the music I'm listening to, I feel like I'm at a fashion show…

  8. can music improve math performance? when i listen to music while answering my math assignment, i noticed that i compute much faster and i concentrate even more on my work but my friends tell me that it's a distraction. why is it like that? if music has an effect on our brains while studying, what type of music should we listen to? classical, pop, or rock? 

  9. Punk rock, power metal, and any kind of hardcore melodic music boost me up at incredible levels. But I think it's not very efficient to do all your trainings with music.

  10. When I do mental imagery, I just can't… Like if I imagine myself riding switch on a skateboard I wobble and fall off, just like real skateboarding.

  11. OMG this ACTUALLY worked… I had to race my BFF in state finals (200 metres), so I listened to my fave upbeat songs in a playlist and I actually won! We've had races before I always lost!

  12. Music does help! My mile time without music was like ten minutes. Then I listened to music while I was running and I got 7 minutes!!

  13. Singing is the hardest interment in world in another interment you just press a buttons and when you sing you have to think before you even start sing and by the way I'm coures

  14. I have heard that when you listen to music, your heart beats at the same tempo as the music. This might be partly why most nocturnes are slow and most sonatas have a fast 1st movement.

  15. XD well I can't do my sport without music. it would just running/walking with perfect timing and technique as the other 80 people. While holding a 7 pound brass pipe that's twisted around For ten minutes straight, if there was no music involved. #dci

  16. You guy need to try electronic music when your running or cleaning. Personalty, my favorite song for that is" Don't think " from The chemical brothers.

  17. Normally if I'm using my exercise bike I'll be tired after 10-15 minutes but if I have some good music on I can go for about an hour at high speeds. Sometimes it seems like the pedals are gonna brake off cause they can't keep up with my feet. (Btw I do go longer than 15 mins or an hour cause after you get used to the exhaustion your fine)

  18. I have met people who are acting like the biggest music fan s in the world and won't allow anyone to be a bigger fan.
    Now I expect them to join me when playing soccer/football 😉

  19. Now I'll feel like shit if I ever forget my headphones at the gym cause I'll know that my performance won't be up to par

  20. yes. i have been trying to get my school to let us wear headphones during pe because it will rside our graded. every time i listen to dubstep or house i can get so much energy

  21. Thank you for sharing this information in this well presented video. It is important to expand the awareness of the power of music for healing of which this video provides. Brainwaves synchronise to external musical stimulus and brainwave entrainment works for almost everyone.

  22. When I joined Cross Country first 2 weeks I was tired from the workouts and mile runs we had to do on a daily basis but going on into the third week I listened to my brothers advice listening to music when I ran and I had improved my endurance and stamina by 5x tje amount than I did before and I found myself not stopping and kept on running here are songs i suggest are the best songs to run too

    1- Eminem "Till I Collapse
    2- 2pac Dying to Live
    3- Mobb Deep Shook Ones Part 2
    4- Eminem Im Not Afraid
    5- Biggie Smalls Hypnotize

  23. i actually played for glory in smash WITH music and then WITHOUT music.

    this is the equivalent of steroids
    i won 5 games in a row with music
    i lost every single damn game without music

  24. This is great information. I've noticed when I run at the park, I run much long when I'm listening to my favorite hip-hop artists with a fast tempo

    Friends always wonder why I listen to this song before/in a race or when arm wrestling
    They still can't figure it out

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