Pre-game playlist: How listening to music positively affects UMass athletes

UMass athletes’ go to songs, artists, and albums that get them game day ready


Kago Motsoma / Daily Collegian

By Corinne Arel , Collegian Staff

Whether going to practice, traveling to a game, or celebrating after a win, music plays a role in many college athletes’ lives. For these University of Massachusetts student athletes, listening to music is a vital part of their training and performance.

While playing sports is mostly a physical activity, there is also a large mental component to athletics. Even if an athlete is physically fit, if they are not in the right mindset when practicing or playing their sport, their performance can be negatively affected. One way that athletes obtain this mindset is by listening to music.

UMass senior civil engineering major and president of the running club, Grayson McDowell, explains how listening to music while training helps keep him motivated to challenge himself.

“If I’m not listening to music I’ll just want to cut a run short,” McDowell said. “If I’m listening to music I’ll just kind of forget as the time passes and I’ll keep going, and do 7 or 8 miles instead of 5 or 6 [miles].”

While sharing some classic songs that are often played at meets, such as “Mr Brightside” by the Killers and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, McDowell also shares the impact of listening to music before a race.

“If I’m riding in the back of a car staring at the front of the seat right before a race, I get really nervous and can psych myself out,” McDowell said. “If I’m listening to music then it can alleviate those nerves.”

Music is also a major part of dance, as athletes use different songs and genres of music to perform. Having this unique relationship to music, UMass dance club president and senior early childhood education major, Rebecca Wilson explained how listening to music both on and off the stage is beneficial to the club’s performances.

“We have a specific playlist that we listen to to pump us up before a performance and get everyone excited and ready to perform,” Wilson said. “Different from other sports, when we are listening to music before a performance it’s a lot of visualizing yourself on stage rather than mindlessly listening to music.”

The type of music that the team listens to before a performance, heavily depends on the style of dance they are about to perform.

“We wouldn’t be listening to Beyoncé or rap music before going on to perform a sad lyrical piece,” Wilson said. “We try to match the type of music to the style of dance that we perform.”

Furthermore, the pace of the music often matches the pace of the movements the dance team is about to perform.

“If we are getting ready to do a contemporary piece, we are getting into the contemporary vibe with a slow, sad song to put us in that mood.”

Dance club vice president and junior public health major, Tegan Oliver, added how listening to music on performance days brings a sense of community to the club.

“If we all listen to music together, you feel connected to everyone and you’re all getting excited and trying to distract from nerves,” Oliver said.

Listening to music can also help athletes who have experienced mental fatigue while training. UMass running club member and junior mathematics major, Liv Lohmeier, believes that listening to music when training helps to get her through a long run.

“I think especially mentally [music] it can help get you through running because sometimes it’s just so mountainous that without music it would be mentally extremely challenging and seem a lot less doable,” Lohmeier said.

Music can also increase motivation by way of encouraging Lohmeier to push the pace and push herself during practice.

“When I think about running, I think about music,” Lohmeier said. “The song, “Knock you Down” by Keri Hilson, the beat is very in line with what would be an up-tempo pace for me. Every time that comes on when I’m running, I start going at this certain pace that the song is at and then I’m running fast.”

UMass athletes are able to challenge themselves during practice, stay motivated throughout their season, and hype themselves up before competing by incorporating music into their training and game day routines.

Corinne Arel can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @CorinneArel_09.