Chris Hoy used the Foo Fighters to get pumped up to perform and Andy Flintoff calmed himself down to Elton John in the 2005 Ashes . But music doesn't just get you into the best mental state : it also improves your physical performance by up to 20 percent. How incredible is this ! This is why music plays a big part in sports psychology.
HOW MUSIC GETS YOU INTO THE MENTAL STATE TO PERFORM
Music can instantly energise you and make you feel more positive. If you are feeling sluggish or hesitant just put a rousing tune on and you will feel the life surge back into you . If you are feeling nervous then play a track which reminds you of a time you played well. This can help get you 'pumped up' to play the match or get motivated on those cold dark mornings when you can't get going. . Lively music acts as a trigger - it creates an emotional and physical response. It works for my golfing clients - playing the right music in the car on the way over can really get you in the mood to compete.
This is why sports people spend time getting their play lists to fit what type of mood they need to be in on competition days. Just before you compete you may choose an uplifting energetic track to get that spring in your step and help you move in a confident, excited and positive way. Walk that walk !
During the competition in the down times you may choose more relaxing and chilled out music to help you recharge and recover.
MUSIC IS PROVED TO INCREASE PERFORMANCE BY 20 PERCENT
We don't just feel more energetic and positive it actually improves our physical performance. In research studies it has been shown to increase performance by 20 per cent while reducing an athletes perception of effort by 10 per cent. Music blocks out tiredness symptoms such as burning lungs, the beating heart and the lactic acid in the muscles enabling athletes to train harder and longer. Coaches and athletes will also talk about how even when you are training at the highest level, certain music tracks will enable you to carry on even up to the point of exhaustion. Runners say that they can go on running longer and faster. No wonder music has been called sport's legal drug.
THE RHYTHM OF THE HEART BEAT
Studies also show that the heart speeds up to the rhythm of the beat of the music you are listening to. When you listen to music with a faster drum beat your heart will beat faster. So if you want to get yourself going, listen to music with a strong and fast base beat, But if you want to get a good night sleep or get into a relaxed frame of mind then the slow ones will help you chill out by slowing your heart beat down.
MUSIC AS A DISTRACTION
Music is great for blocking out distractions. These could be team members, opponents, coaches, spectators - anything that interferes with your positivity and focus. I have advised competitors to put on their headphones when they have complained of getting put off by people and things around them. By putting on your headphones you are able to focus on yourself, your music and not be interfered with. It is also a signal to those annoying people who want to distract you 'Do not Disturb' !
Music also helps block out negative thoughts - the "what if I lose/ play badly" thoughts. If you concentrate on the music then you will be able to stay in the present moment.
MUSIC IN YOUR MATCH DAY ROUTINE
Experiment with which songs get you into the mental state that you want. Sort out a play list in advance so that you can just put on your headphones and block out the world. The less decisions you have to make on the day, the more mental energy you will have for being at your peak state.
Remember to put "take headphones" on your Match Day Preparation Reminder List.
Do the same for your training sessions. Find out which tunes motivate and enthuse you.
One of my clients had a great track to play on competition days when she was going through a difficult time with her team mates. What was the tune? "move over b""tch"!!! And it worked.
What tunes work best for you ?
ABOUT THE WRITER
My name is Jenny Truman and I am a mental skills performance coach. I coach sports people at all levels from amateur to professional. To find out more about me please visit www.jtperformancecoaching.co.uk . If you would like help with any of the issues in this article you can contact me on 07870 705007 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org.