In today's culture, there is a strong connection between sports and music. In fact, according to ESPN “sports are part of music...and music is increasingly part of sports.” Part of the reason for the relationship between sports and music is because of Music's Powerful Influence on Sports Performance. For anyone that has ever listened to music during exercise or put on their favorite power ballad as they are warming up for a game there is no denying the power music has on improving performance.
The motivational power of music has been researched extensively. According to a literature review by Karageorghis and Terry (1997) music can enhance energy efficiency, lead to more output and improve affect. Furthermore, research shows that carefully selected music can lead to psychological benefits during high-intensity exercise.
Research has shown that music can influence competitive performance through 5 different pathways
Dissociation: music can narrow attention and consequently divert the mind from feeling fatigue
Arousal Regulation: Music can help lead to physiological arousal which can stimulate athletes or even calm anxious feelings.
Synchronization: Musical tempo can help regulate movement and lead to prolonged performance by helping athletes be more efficient.
Acquisition of Motor Skills: Music has been shown to help people acquire motor skills
Attainment of Flow: Music has been shown to help with motivation and trigger emotions and thoughts that help with performance.
For music to have the optimal effect on performance the intensity of the activity, the delivery of music and the selection procedure is very important.
Intensity of Activity: Music tempo should match the heart rate of an athlete during the sports activity. For instance, during warm up athletes should listen to a tempo of 80-130 beats as their warm up goal is likely 120 heart beats per minutes. As the athletes warm up the tempo should increase.
Delivery of Music: Music delivered in a sports stadium can have a positive effect on group cohesion. However, if someone is working out or warming up on their own and their music is too loud it can annoy or disturb other athletes trying to prepare for a game.
Selection of Music: Research shows that music that has a strong and energizing rhythm, positive lyrics, uplifting melodies, association with sports or overcoming an obstacle and a musical style that the athlete prefers is most likely going to have a strong positive influence on the athlete’s performance.
While everyone from professional athletes to sports enthusiast spend billions of dollars each year on state of the art equipment, sports drinks and apparel that are designed to improve athletic performance, music which has existed for thousands of years will continue to inspire and motivate athletes and fans around the world.