Music can increase your performance

Are you “tuned into” how music can improve your performance in sport?

The use of Music has long been recognized as a powerful tool for enhancing sports performance by many athletes, across various sports and disciplines.

“In 2007, the USA Track & Field, the national governing body for distance racing, banned the use of headphones and portable audio players at its official races, creating the rule “to ensure safety and to prevent runners from having a competitive edge.”

Research has shown that music can have a profound impact on sports performance and when used correctly, music can help athletes to focus, stay motivated, and increase their endurance.

In support of theoretical research, many famous athletes have been seen using music to enhance their performance. For instance, the American swimmer Michael Phelps, who won 7 gold medals and set 5 world records at the 2007 FINA World Championships, reportedly listened to hip-hop music before his races to help him narrow his attention, to get him focused and psyched up.

Haile Gebrselassie, synched his stride to the song “Scatman” when breaking the 10,000-meter world record.

Music can be used to get you in the right frame of mind, energize you, and focus on your performance. Listening to can even help to increase the intensity, strength, power, and endurance of your workout.

For any athlete arousal levels, mental/physical can have a significant impact on sports performance. The use of music can enhance these arousal levels and by optimizing arousal states, athletes can perform much better, both mentally and physically

Listening to music has an impact on your mental state.

One of the primary ways in which music influences sports performance is through its effect on the athlete's mental state. Music has been shown to have a direct impact on the brain's limbic system, which is responsible for regulating emotions. By listening to music, athletes can control their emotional state, helping them to stay motivated and focused during competition.

Achieving a Flow State

Music can also help athletes to achieve a state of "flow," which is a state of mind in which the athlete is completely immersed in their performance. Flow is essential for peak performance in sports, and music can be a powerful tool for achieving it.

Increasing Endurance

Another way in which music can influence sports performance is through its effect on physical performance. Research has shown that music can increase endurance, improve strength, and speed up recovery times. This is because music directly impacts the body's physiological responses, such as heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. By listening to music, athletes can increase their physical performance, helping them to achieve their goals.

Listening to music can stop negative thoughts.

Negative thoughts affect sports performance, and this may prevent you from achieving your goals. Listening to music can distract and stop you from holding onto negative thoughts and help you to focus on what is important. Entertaining limiting thoughts and ideas can and will limit your performance. Music can help you to shift that.

Trigger optimal performance states.

Music can trigger positive and pleasing emotions and when you create positive connections to the music you listen to, you can trigger positive states/moods. Your subconscious mind, which is also your body, and your body is the tool you use to perform, can be trained to activate positive states through listening to music.

“Where your focus goes your energy flows.”

Reduce perceived exertion and pain.

Athletes frequently experience discomfort, pain, and fatigue when training or participating in an event. This could have a negative impact on performance. However, music can help to distract the athlete away from focusing on their perceived discomfort, pain, and fatigue. Music can inspire one to push through exhaustion and help to maintain a positive outlook.

Block out the chatter of others.

Sometimes before an event it can be helpful to cut out conversations with certain people e.g., a parent, family member, or friend, to keep focus and not be distracted. The good intention of others is not always good for you. Protect your mind and keep focused and if that means you need to put on your headphones and block out the world, then that is what you do.

The use of synchronous music

Researchers investigated the effects of synchronous music on treadmill running among elite triathletes. The study included 20 participants, who completed two randomized trials on a treadmill - one with synchronous music and one without. The study found that the use of synchronous music had a positive impact on running performance, as indicated by higher levels of speed, distance, and time to exhaustion. The researchers also found that the use of music led to a higher rating of perceived exertion, indicating that the athletes were pushing themselves harder when listening to music. The study suggests that synchronous music can be a useful tool for enhancing sports performance among elite athletes.

Create your own playlist.

Creating a playlist is very personal and needs to be done in a way that it is uplifting and has meaning for you. It is recommended that the music you listen to should have a strong, energizing rhythm; positive lyrics connected to rhythmic patterns that match the movement patterns of your activity, uplifting melodies, and harmonies that are in line with your value system.

Have fun in creating your own playlist and make sure to edit it from time to time.


Music can have a significant impact on sports performance, both mentally and physically. Athletes can use music to help them focus, stay motivated, and increase their endurance, among other benefits. When creating a playlist, it is essential to choose music that is upbeat, motivational, and energizing. By incorporating music into your or as a coach your athletes training and competition routines, you can improve your performance and achieve your goals.

Article compiled by Bennie Louw
Life and Executive Coach, Speaker and Sport Mind Coach.

Training Your Mind for Sports Performance – Providing individual and group training for coaches, managers, parents, high level performers and keen amateurs who wish to learn the techniques to improve their mental approach to sport.

Click here to Contact Bennie