Does listening to music before a fight help an athlete perform better?

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Otávio Nalati. Leonardo Waintrub

It’s common to see, matside in competitions, fighters enjoying some music before performing. The playlists are of the widest variety, and each athlete listens to their favorites with their own intention: to get pumped, or relax, or get inspired. But in the scientific field, is there any indication that music helps a fighter do better in competition?

“There are scientific works proving the effectiveness of music in improving the performance of elite athletes,” says Rafael Ribeiro, Graciemag’s High Performance columnist. “The studies show that, when they are very focused, athletes are able to hear their own heartbeat, and this tends to cause a decline in performance. In theory, when we hear our heart beat, we notice that our body is working in a more accelerated way, and this tends to cause a negative emotional effect, generating more adrenaline.”

“The perceptions of tiredness and fatigue then come faster,” he adds. “By focusing on external images or stimuli, like music, we tend to stop paying attention to those signs from the body and thus the sensations of tiredness and fatigue come more slowly. Besides, music can exert on people a positive emotional effect, instigating them to let their best versions come forward in decisive moments.”

So it’s no accident that athletes like Otávio Nalati resort to wearing headphones in the concentration area of BJJ competitions. Rafael concludes: “This type of equipment has the added positive effect of showing people that there is an athlete in a moment of concentration, a professional that does not wish to be bothered. This helps a lot in avoiding distractions.”

Do you have any recommendations for our playlists? Let us know below.

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