It’s no shock that everyone gets hyped up when music starts blasting out of the speakers at a major athletic event. The crowd goes wild, energy flows across the venue, and athletes feel an extra surge of preparedness when the sound hits them.
This became so noticeable that in 2007, USA Track and Field banned athletes from using headphones during competition in order “to prevent runners from having a competitive edge.”
But, exactly how does music help athletes get psyched up for their event?
Researchers from Georgia Southern University set out to answer this question. First, they looked at previous studies, noting that music has been shown to divert attention away from feelings of fatigue, stimulate enhanced performance, lower feelings of anger and depression, and quicken movements (when there’s a speedy beat). Athletes who competed in sports like figure skating, meanwhile, could reach optimal performance by listening to music with a slower tempo.
The researchers measured how music affected seven Division I collegiate athletes participating in soccer, football, and tennis. They watched the athletes perform with and without music, and noticed that music controlled arousal levels before and after competition and helped athletes mentally prepare before competing. It also seemed to helped them control their moods and create a sense of camaraderie during athletic competition.
These observations were based on just seven athletes, but other studies have come to similar conclusions.
One small study by researchers at Brunel University revealed that music can enhance endurance by 15%. When competing at any level, but especially at the pinnacle of a sport, even a 15% increase in performance can be the difference between victory and loss.
So it turns out that what just seems like a fun crowd-pleaser can actually make a difference in how the athletes competing at an event perform.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.