Does classical music help development in athletes?

The British radio station Classic FM, quoting the Oxford Dictionary, describes classical music as “music written in a Western musical tradition, usually using an established form (for example a symphony).” The term itself is something of an umbrella term for Western instrumental, orchestral and choral music.

Despite being described as “classical,” this type of music is as relevant today as it’s ever been. History is one of the reasons. Composers and musicians throughout several centuries have explored concepts such as dissonance, atonality, tonality and more, making music what it is today. Another reason for the reason for classical music’s relevance in the modern world is the timeless quality it has to it. Centuries may have passed, but people still enjoy classical music now and recognize many of the pieces. 

One group of people who seem to be able to get a lot out of classical music are those in the sporting world. Classical music is thought to benefit their performance and development. This post looks at whether classical does benefit them or otherwise.

Does classical music help development in athletes?

Classical music has a soothing quality about it, but athletes when gearing up for training may actually wish to switch from high-octane music, such as dance, house or trance, to classical music. Before exercise, the primordial function of the classical music is to build energy, inspire positive imagery and motivate the athlete to move. The track “Chariots of Fire,” named after the film of the same name, works well because of its underlying rhythm and cinematic link to glory.

Calming down after training

After training, it’s time to calm down and revitalize and the athlete requires music of the same nature. Classical music can aid the athlete’s return to a resting state. One piece of music that can achieve this is Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie No 1.” This timeless piano solo really has a habit of wrapping themselves around the listener, allowing themselves to immerse themselves in it and relax.

Improving golf performance

Golfers are one category of athletes who might find they benefit from popping on some classical music while they’re out practicing their game. Jazz music in particular has been found to help them benefit their accuracy, but classical music also has an impact for the better. Again, this is likely due to the softness of the music, whereas music such as hip hop or rock increases arousal levels, which in turn raises heart rate and blood pressure, and none of this is good for putting and other fine motor-control activities. 

It’s not just putting that could benefit from a golfer listening to a little classical music while on the green. A golfer’s swing may also become the better for it. Tempo is an important part of the golf swing, and it has been suggested that listening to classical music such as the waltz is good for the swing. This is because the golfer can use the waltz as a counting measure in their head to slow down their swing and improve its rhythm. 

So if you’re reading this and are into betting on the Masters, and then checking out the tournament and seeing how the professionals stand, swing, put etc., now you have a further way to potentially improve your game.

Boosting rowing performance

The tempo of classical music can not only enhance the rhythm of a golfer’s swing, though. Classical music and other forms of music can exert a work-enhancing impact. Slow and fast tempos in some pieces of classical music have been found to boost sprint rowing performance

But does classical music really help athletes to develop?

Some may think of classical musical as a way to help athletes develop and improve their performance, but others think classical music performers themselves are athletes. Their body is the tool that enables them to perform, and if for some reason their body fails them, they can’t just call a time out in the middle of a symphony. The show must go on.

Performers of classical music may seem very lucky to lead a performer’s lifestyle. However, all the years of practice — in some cases working with heavy, physically demanding instruments — touring and playing that go into being an elite performer of classical music take their toll on the body. Then there are the rehearsal schedules, the endurance of constant peer audience and peer criticism, and obligation of living with unstable employment. All this work and everything else going on behind the scenes, something which people hear a lot about in the case of athletes, is physically and mentally demanding.

Classical music, it seems, could benefit sporting development and performance, although some might argue against that. If you practice a sport and have reached a plateau, trying out some classical music while you practice could be the way to smash through that barrier and take your performance to a higher level. Whether it will or not can’t be guaranteed, but it certainly won’t hurt to try.


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