Athletes always look for ways to improve their performance. Many have the habit of listening to music while in the gym to achieve this. But how does music actually help athletic performance?
Operates on Autopilot
Listening to music can encourage athletes to activate autopilot, thus outside their conscious awareness. A recent study found that having elite athletes activate autopilot is beneficial. When elite golfers were asked to take a putt as quickly as possible, they had a higher success rate, compared to when they took their time.
High pressure situations sometimes cause overthinking, but when an athlete activates autopilot, this does not appear and movements are naturally performed.
Research has proven that listening to music while doing physical activities can decrease your rate of perceived effort by 12 percent and improve your endurance by 15 percent.
However, you should also take the tempo of the music into account. Recent research from Liverpool John Moores University shows more nuanced findings. that music with slower tempo decreased the heart rate of the participant as well as the distance covered on a bike, while music with quicker tempo increased the heart rate and mileage of the participants as well as the enjoyment of both the music and exercise.
Research has shown that athletes can listen to music to manipulate their emotions before taking part in competition. For example, Athlete Dame Kelly Holmes listened to Alicia Keys ballads before competing for the 2004 Olympic Games, which helped her relax and peak her performance.
Stops Negative Thoughts
Listening to music can help distract athletes from the negative thoughts, which is known to be able to consume the mind and hinder performance. Recent research shows that basketball players prone to performing poorly under pressure converted more free-throw shots as they had listened to upbeat music, since this distracted them from the pressure of performing behinds a crowd.