How To Use Music To Boost Athletic Performance

Research reveals which types of music improve which types of athletic performance.

Music and Memory

Research reveals which types of music improve which types of athletic performance.

Listening to jazz can improve your performance on the putting green, according to a new study.

And jazz is not the only music that’s been linked to athletic performance, as one of the study’s authors Dr. Ali Boolani explains:

“Other research has shown that country music improves batting, rap music improves jump shots and running is improved by any up-tempo music.

But the benefit of music in fine motor control situations was relatively unknown.

Hopefully, this is the first step in answering this question.”

In the small experiment, 20 good golfers tried five different putts while listening to one of the following types of music:

  • Classical
  • Country
  • Rock
  • Jazz
  • Hip hop/rap
  • No music

The results, published in the Journal of Athletic Enhancement, found that any music at all improved putting compared with none, but jazz was the best genre (Baghurst et al., 2014).

So, why does jazz improve putting?

First, here is the authors’ more creative answer:

“…jazz is derived from improvisation, which appears in similar arts such as the theatre.

Although speculative, listening to jazz may encourage greater improvisation from the listener.

Thus, participants in the present study may have better observed the grain and slope of the green and were more open to creativity in the putt.”

Cute answer, but their second explanation is probably more accurate:

“…jazz serves to act as a calming effect, as opposed to other genres which generally have higher tempos and could increase levels of arousal.”

Image credit: flyzipper

Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

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