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Tunes Motivate Athletes

By Darwin Manning

There has long been a linkage of music with sports and a sentiment that the two distinctly complement each other. For Grinnell’s athletes, this is certainly the case, though they may vary in personal genre preference. Student-athletes across every sport require the rhythm and groove from their music to get them in the right frame of mind for competition.


There is an individual component to music, which allows athletes to be distinctive and get psyched for the competition. The baseball team especially experiences this, as each athlete has a specific song that plays before they hit or pitch.


One pitcher, Will Bennett ’13, a guitarist and oft-featured performer at Bob’s Open Mic, made “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness his song, simply for its fun-loving nature. However, he believes that for many baseball athletes, musical choices become more than just a warm-up.


“For some people, it is almost superstitious. For hitters, every time you step to the plate you hear a certain song,” Bennett said. “Just like Nomar Garciaparra adjusted his batting gloves before every pitch, it becomes part of your routine.”


Other athletes, such as the volleyball team, like to get their adrenaline going as a team. Thus, while music becomes a great tool for visualization, it can also help with focus on team unity.


“It’s also a pretty good team bonding moment when we’re all in the locker room or waiting for the game to start and we’re all just dancing together,” said Lindsay Fujimoto ’15, volleyball and softball player.


For the men’s basketball team, it’s all about hitting the current notes and making sure plenty of One Direction is mixed in. The team has music blaring as they warm up for practices and games, mainly the most popular songs at the time.


When Dominique Bellamy ’13 tosses on headphones, he finds himself taking in some Jay-Z or Kanye West. Additionally, he believes there is a blissful pairing between basketball and music that resonates throughout all levels of competition.


“Definitely, music and basketball go together. On ESPN they will sometimes have specials with players on what they listen to before they go out to play,” Bellamy said. “I don’t know what it is—usually just the feelings you get from music will pump you up.”


For others, the music connects them to their roots and demands reflection. One women’s basketball player, Rebecca Degroot ’14, said she listens to Relient K, a Christian band that allows her to feel humble in relation to God. She believes that it grants her the chance to reflect on what it took to get to this point in her life.


“I know that I am blessed with the ability to participate at the college level. So, I must step on that floor as a competitive player for Him, myself, and my team,” Degroot said. “When I listen to Relient K, I think about all time, sweat, tears, injuries, bruises and excitement I have put into this game I love.”


There seems to be a unifying nature to music and, regardless of the sport a Grinnell student might play, there is a focus on this as an essential part of preparation. For two-sport athlete Fujimoto, a good portion of this excitement is geared towards the pace of the game. She explained that volleyball demands fast-paced action, so upbeat music is fitting. Softball, on the other hand, can be very individualized, and so it is crucial to give each hitter or pitcher a song to listen to before they step into their roles.


“For both sports, I believe that music during warm-up is a way to get excited and bring the team together,” Fujimoto said.


Many Grinnell teams unofficially declare one artist or song their anthem. For the men’s basketball team, it is mainly One Direction or Carly Rae Jepsen. Meanwhile, the baseball squad has shown allegiance to country songs over the past few years.


“Some songs have become our anthems, like ‘Take Me Home Tonight’ by Eddy Money,” Bennett said.


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    Allison WatkinsNov 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Music does a great job in changing your mindset, I don’t understand the psychology behind it but I really do believe it turns up your emotion to the next level. Great article, I never thought about baseball like that.