Karageorghis, C. I., Hutchinson, J. C., Jones, L., Farmer, H. L., Ayhan, M. S., Wilson, R. C., Rance, J., Hepworth, C. J., & Bailey, S. G (2013). Psychological, psychophysical, and ergogenic effects of music in swimming. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(5), Supplement abstract number 1243.

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This study assessed the psychological, psychophysical, and ergogenic effects of asynchronous (background) music on swimming performance. It was hypothesized that two experimental conditions involving motivational and oudeterous (motivationally neutral) music would yield superior psychological, psychophysical, and ergogenic effects when compared against a no-music control condition. Volunteer undergraduates (N = 92 nominated six musical selections for use in the experimental protocol of Stage 2. Ss (N = 26) were recruited from a collegiate swimming club and underwent a three-week habituation period with Speedo Aquabeat mp3 players prior to the experimental phase. They were then administered two experimental trials (motivational and oudeterous music at 130 bpm) and a no-music control during which they engaged in a 200-meter freestyle swimming time-trial.

Ss swam significantly faster when exposed to either music condition relative to control. The music conditions were associated with higher state motivation. In a qualitative analysis, Ss indicated that the use of music during the time-trial elicited three broad categories of response that related to attentional focus, enhanced affective state, and behavioral responses.

Implication. Asynchronous music during a high-intensity task can have an ergogenic effect in the order of 2% when averaged out across the two experimental conditions. The use of music, regardless of its motivational qualities, resulted in higher self-reported motivation as well as more dissociative thoughts.

Music is useful if swimmers do not engage in explicit task-relevant thoughts (e.g., attempting a technique change) or when training is repetitive. Music might also have ergogenic effects in other sports.

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