Music Effects on Athletic Performance Music to enhance one’s athletic performance during sports and exercise has become an important area of study. Music is often thought of as almost a performance-enhancing drug because of the advantages it may give to an athletes’ performance. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the beneficial effects that music can have on athletic performance and to provide examples from research.
Music can benefit performance because it controls arousal rates, elevates moods, reduces exertion rates, creates dissociation from pain and fatigue, creates synchronization, enhances ability to learn motor skills nd creates flow states. Synchronous music is beneficial to athletes because it allows them to match pace and tempo to a specific activity. Synchronization of movement with music can benefit athletic performance by enhancing physical performance, stamina, and recovery. Synchronization helps increase levels of work output in sports such as rowing, cycling, cross-country, and running.
Research has proven that synchronized movements with music helps enhance performances during aerobic activities, and can increase endurance. The tempo of music allows athletes to control their movements which prolongs their performance. Famous Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrelassic set the indoor 2000-metre record through by synchronizing his movements with music, matching his stride perfectly to the rhythm of the pop song “Scatman. ” Synchronizing allows runners to match up the tempo with their desired stride.
Tempo is theorized to be a key component to how music will affect athletic performance. Research has shown that majority of people prefer to listen to fast tempo music while they exercise over slow tempo music. To prove if this theory is true, Karageorghis, Jones, and Low preformed an experiment omparing participants heart rate to their preferred tempo. The participants had the option of either low, medium, or fast tempo music. The participants went through three trials of walking on the treadmill. The first trial tested 40% of maximal heart rate.
The second trial tested 60% of maximal heart rate. The third trail tested at 75% of maximal heart rate. The results from the experiment showed that participants preferred fast or medium tempo over slow tempo. They experiment also showed that during low to moderate exercises the participants still preferred the fast or medium tempo over the slow tempo. But when the participants participated in intense exercise they prefer only fast tempo over both medium and slow tempo. Synchronous music has also been linked to an increase in positive moods.
Hayakawa, Miki, Takada, and Tanaka did an observation of a step-aerobics class to confirm this theory. They observed the moods of participants in the class during the use of synchronous, asynchronous, and control conditions. The results showed that participants experienced more positive moods when synchronous music played during the class. Music enhances athletic performance because it causes dissociation. Dissociation refers to the possibility of diverting the mind’s attention away from sensations of pain and fatigue.
Research has shown that if one’s attention is not focused on feelings of fatigue that their level of work output increases. Dissociation benefits athletic performance because it narrows attention and allows the body to focus on the amount of information it is able to process. Therefore, if an athlete is focusing just on the music she can increase work output. Dissociation also creates a positive state of mind because it redirects attention away from physiological sensations of fatigue and pain.
For example, it can ause someone to feel more energetic or happy rather than stressed, tired, or bored. The method of dissociation only works for exercises with low to moderate intensity. Once an athlete reaches a certain intensity the attention can no longer be redirected by music because the level of fatigue is too immense and therefore overrides the effect of music. This override results because focus is controlled by physiological responses such as respiration rate and blood lactate accumulation.
Research has proven that dissociation causes a ten percent decrease in athletes perceived exertion while running at a low to moderate ntensity on a treadmill ( Karageorghis & Terry, 1999; Nethery, 2002; Szmedra & Bacharach, 1998 ). Even though listening to music during high intensity doesn’t allow narrowing attention, it does allow for a better experience. Music acts as a form of entertainment which makes hard training more enjoyable by changing how your mind depicts symptoms of fatigue. Flow is a mental state that occurs in the moment when someone becomes entirely immersed in an activity.
When you experience a flow state you would feel an intense focus, time passing by quickly, a sense of peacefulness, and a feeling of being able to achieve your goals. There has been research done that proves music can help achieve flow states. A study was done by Pates, Karageorghis, Fryer, and Maynard to evaluate the effects that pre-task music has on three netball shooters performances and to analyze if it promotes flow states. Pates, Karageorghis, Fryer, and Maynard use three college netball players as subjects for test.
After the test were finished the result showed that two of the netball shooters said they experienced a boost in their perception of flow. The results also showed that pre-task music had a positive effect on their shooting since all three shooting erformances where enhanced when music was used. The three researchers developed a conclusion that interferences including self-selected music and imagery may be able to increase athletes’ performances through activating emotions and cognitions connected to flow.
Karageorghis and Deeth went deeper into research by analyzing the effects that motivational music has on flow. Karageorghis and Deeth ran a multistage workout test using the Flow State Scale, which is a scale to measure the presence of flow during an activity. The researchers used the Flow State Scale to show the multiple spects that are part of the flow experiences which were shown through the factors included in the Flow State Scale. The results of this test showed that motivational music caused an increase in Flow State Scale factors.
While result showed no increase in any factors when non motivational music and no-music was used during the workout test. Music is a tool that athletes can use to control their arousal rates. Many athletes listen to music before competition because music changes emotional and physiological arousal. Therefore, music can act almost as a stimulant by creating thoughts of physical activity or as a edative that relaxes the body. Music allows athletes to regulate their arousal levels so that they can achieve their perfect mindset.
Majority of athletes are looking to increase their arousal rates before competition therefore, they choose to listen to upbeat music that provokes thoughts of intense and physical activity. Some athletes do prefer to have lower arousal rates before completion therefore, they would choose music with a slow beat to relax and calm them down. Dame Kelly Hole’s has won two gold medals using music to control her arousal rate. Before each run she would listen to “Fallin” and Killing Me Softly” by Alicia Keys. Audley Harrison, who is a superheavyweight boxer Olympic champion, also used music to control his arousal rates.
Audley studied sport psychology in the four years leading to the 2000 Olympics so he could understand how to control his arousal levels through music. Surprisingly Audley would listen to Japanese classical music before each match as part of his pre-fight routine. Audley’s music selection would reduce his pre-fight anxiety, reduced tension, and would develop a peaceful mind set. Another instance where music was used during the Olympics to decrease rousal rates was in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.
The Great Britain bobsleigh team won a gold medal by listening to “One Moment in Time” by Whitney Houston. The team would listen to this song every day on their way to the bobsleigh track. When the team listen to the song they could picture themselves calmly and decisively going down the track seizing the moment which they ended up doing when the moment came. They ended up winning the race which was Great Britain’s first Olympic medal in bobsleighing since 1964. Richard Faulds, who was double trap shooter, used the same xact Whitney Houston song to win a gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
Research has been done that shows many athletes can also use music to control their arousal rates for surgery or rehabilitation if they ever get injured. For athletes that tend to experience anxiety before or after surgery can listen to music to relax them which will reduce their levels of anxiety. Researchers have also proven that when athletes listen to music before or during their rehabilitation sessions it can calm them down therefore, reducing their arousal rates (Lukas, Nilsson, Unosson, & Rawal, 2005).