Point guard Natasha Cloud raps Dreams and Nightmares like her life depends on it before every single Athletes Unlimited Basketball game. She’s unlocked a simple secret to improving her performance: Music helps for basketball training!
Being “in tune” while you are practicing or playing basketball can elevate your performance. Listening to great music is one of the best and quickest ways to improve your mood, stay in the moment, and find your intensity and game-time rhythm.
So today we’re going to take a look at the specific ways music helps for basketball, from getting in the zone to de-stressing. We’ll also share some tips for making your own basketball playlist, and we’ll reveal some of the best music used by NBA and WNBA hoopers to achieve their goals. Let’s get after it!
Research showed that listening to both slow and fast rhythm music increased heart rate significantly and improved performance among elite basketball players, but not significantly. Although athletes cannot listen to music during a game, music may, in particular, improve performance during practice, according to a study on college hoopers.
Many pro hoopers listen to music to help de-stress early in the day before a game, and then to pump themselves up later in the day right before showtime.
Indiana Fever center/forward Erlana Larkins said, “I think right now I’m going to go home and listen to something relaxing to ease my mind, because I’m anxious. I’m ready. I’m hype and the game isn’t until 8 o’clock. But then as the game gets here, something more upbeat. Some hip-hop – Drake or Lil Wayne.”
Here are a few ways using music can help improve your basketball performance.
Upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life. Music can boost internal motivation by triggering good emotions, helping you experience much greater pleasure from the activity.
Dr. Costas Karageorghis, the world-leading researcher on music for performance, said that you can think of music as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.” Music enhances athletic performance and it can be a very compelling intervention for improving how one relates to both their actual performance and their end result, according to The Health Sciences Academy.
Dissociation refers to diverting the mind from sensations of fatigue that creep up and in during performance. Research has repeatedly shown how music can improve performance by drawing one’s attention away from feelings of fatigue and pain when engaged in endurance activities.
Some athletes describe using music to aid with their mental imagery during the routine part of their activity as allowing them to be “in the zone”.
Research also indicates that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat, causing alpha brainwaves. This alpha brainwave is what is present when we are relaxed and conscious. Researchers at Stanford University have said that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.” They noted that music is something that almost anybody can access and makes it an easy stress reduction tool.
So what motivating songs do you list to before games? Develop a personalized playlist for generating emotions that match your activities, such as getting ready for practice, your pre-game routine, or winding down at night.
The NBA asked the teams that made it to the playoffs to have some of their players share a few songs each a few years ago. A lot of the same artists cropped up: Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, N.W.A, 2 Pac. Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, 50 Cent, and Lil Wayne.
Former overseas pro women’s hooper Milani Malik-Richardson says the right music was essential in her career. “I have to make sure my playlist is right,” says Malik-Richardson. “Just anything that is going to amp me up, get me in the right mood, like tonight it’s on!”
Meanwhile Indiana Fever hooper Shenise Johnson said she listens to the same playlist before every game. “A little bit of Fetty Wap. We got some Eminem. ‘You better lose yourself in the…’ that right there? That’s a classic. I pretty much play that before every game. You try to approach every game the same. I’m kind of a routine type of person. I eat the same things, sleep at the same times, especially on game day. But, I’m not superstitious!” she exclaimed.
Asked by the WNBA what her go-to music was on game day, Washington Mystics’ shooting guard Shavonte Zellous mentioned a different approach: “When I get in the shower, I listen to gospel before the game. And then it’s all turn-up music after that. It’s all Future, Drake and all of that type of stuff.”
The Champion’s Mind recommends making a personal pump up playlist for training. Be sure to include your favorite mix of up-tempo songs that get you psyched to do your best.
Here are a few examples of power songs that can help you maximize your workout:
Here’s the NBA Playoff List. You can also check out LeBron James’ playlist on Spotify. Bleacher Report has a list of the top 100 pregame pump-up songs which could help you too.
Now that you know how to use music for basketball, it’s time to tune in the music, and tune out the distractions. Up next, learn about how to build your confidence in basketball.