Does music boost sports performance?

Updated: May 10

Numerous studies have shown that listening to motivational music is a good way to improve mood and motivation, and leads to positive self-assessment during physical activity. For example, one of the most famous music used to put oneself in the best mental conditions before the games is the Maori "Haka" performed by the New Zealand national rugby team. However, the psychological processes and mechanisms explaining the motivating and even transcendent effects of music in the field of sport are still poorly understood. Indeed, while many studies have studied the role of music in evoking emotional responses and its use for mood regulation, the question of the relationship between listening to music and sports performance has rarely been discussed.

Listening music has no effect on sports performance ...

A study by Dr. Paul Elvers investigated whether listening to motivational music can improve sports performance in a ball game, improve self-assessment skills and / or lead to risk-taking. The results showed that listening to music had no positive or negative impact on overall performance or on self-assessment skills, self-esteem or stress related to sports performance.

… but promotes risk taking especially in men

However, study shows listening to music has increased the sense of self-esteem among already successful athletes and has also increased risk taking, especially among male athletes and athletes who have chosen their own music to motivate themselves. According to Dr. Paul Elvers, these results suggest that motivational and emotional psychological processes play an important role in understanding the functions and effects of music in sport and physical activity. He adds that the differences in risk taking observed between male and female athletes in this study corroborate the results of several previous studies.

However, more research seems necessary to fully understand the impact of motivational music on the complex phenomena of self-improvement, performance and risk-taking during physical exertion. Dr. Elvers concludes that the ability of music to induce pleasure as well as its function with regard to personal development are promising candidates for future investigation.

By Chris Hayot PhD in Biomedical Engineering

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