Listening to your favourite music boosts performance

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Posted on 18 April 2012
Listening to favourite music improved ratings of being ‘in the zone’ across all groups, with the biggest effects occurring during training sessions."

Whether you like classical, death metal or skiffle, listening to your own choice of music could improve your enjoyment of taking part in competitive sports and improve performance, a study has found.

This finding is presented today (18 April) at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference held at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London (18-20 April). The research was carried out by Dr Alexandra Lamont with Rachel Hallett, Jonathan Castro, Charlotte Fowell, Kelly Richardson and Rhian Taylor, all from Keele University.

Dr Lamont said: “By playing their favourite tunes, we found that participants’ exertion levels reduced and their sense of being ‘in the zone’ increased, when compared to listening to no music at all. The greatest effects were found for music used during training.

“So, if you are a Rihanna fan, for example, putting on her latest album could boost your performance and reduce perceived effort during training and before competing.”

For this study, three competitive sports groups - with 64 participants in total - were compared: football, netball and running. The groups were first polled to establish their favourite type of music, which was different depending on the sport. Female netball players, for example, preferred R&B music.

Each group was assessed before and during training, and before competitions or races, with and without their favourite music. Each session was rated by the participants for perceived motivation, focus, enjoyment, challenge, awareness and rate of perceived exertion.

Listening to favourite music improved ratings of being ‘in the zone’ across all groups, with the biggest effects occurring during training sessions. A reduction of perceived exertion happened during most sessions.

Previous studies have shown that motivational music in general boosts performance, but have not looked at the effects of participants’ favourite music on their performance.

Music to keep fit to:

• Netball Players: Rihanna and Black Eyed Peas
• Runners: Eminem, Pendulum, Blondie and Muse
• Footballers: Kings of Leon, Florence and the Machine, Survivor and Foo Fighters

Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” appeared in all three groups' playlists.
Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” appeared in the runners’ and footballers’ playlists.


For further information BEFORE THE CONFERENCE contact the British Psychological Society Press Centre: 0116 252 9500 or email

DURING THE CONFERENCE (18 -20 April) call the conference press office on: 07952 484140 or 07952 568102

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