Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Music and the mind

July 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Mental Side

Last night I took my kids to a local American Legion playoff game.  Prior to the game starting, the National Anthem was

Like me, often players/pitchers will use music to help them prepare before games


It’s been a long time since I’ve played in a game where the National Anthem was played/sung (15 years?).  However, my body still has the same reaction.  I start to sway back and forth, my toes tap, my heart rate increases, I look downward, and in my mind, I often see a catcher set up behind the plate.  This occurs because for so many years I was on a field getting ready to pitch/play when the song was played.  The normal excitement of performing was always present at the time of the song.  Now, even 15 years later, my body and mind still connect the song with  getting ready to play.  I have been conditioned to “get ready to play” every time I hear the song whether or not I’m in the stands, in an auditorium, or anywhere else where the National Anthem is played.  My body responds the same way.

A similar thing happens whenever I hear a song from the Guns and Roses’ Use Your Illusion II album.  When I was a starting pitcher in the minor leagues, I would always listen to that CD as I was getting dressed before a start.  As I was getting dressed I would close my eyes and picture a catcher behind the plate set up in various locations.  My mind would picture me throwing my pitches exactly where the glove was located.  Today, whenever I hear a song from that CD on the radio, I immediately see a catcher set-up behind the plate in my mind.  On one occasion, I almost drove off the road I was on because I was so inside my head seeing a catcher that I stopped paying attention to the road.  Now, if I am driving and I hear one of those songs, I quickly turn to another station.

My reaction to both songs can be instructive for players.  This time of year (late July) can be tough for players.  It’s hot, your body is worn down physically and mentally, and your team may or may not be heading towards the playoffs.  It becomes tough for some players to stay motivated and sharp.  My examples above prove that music can help.  If you have songs you routinely listen to before a game, your body will begin to “get ready” for competition just by hearing the song.  On the days when you are dragging, the music can trick your body and mind into getting up and sharp even when external conditions (heat, humidity, etc.) knock people down.  Usually faster paced songs with a steady beat accomplish this better.  Slower songs generally calm a person down.

Find some songs that seem to pump you up and listen to them before you compete.  Your body and mind will do the rest.


One Response to “Music and the mind”
  1. Was reading some of your past postings and ran into this one.

    I started playing music at all of our practices in the “background.” Just loud enough for the players to hear it, but not so loud to be distracting when trying to talk to the players. What happened, well.. the players would be moving, singing, more relaxed and that seemed to help the practice move along. Even the coaches would stop and “do a bit of a dance” while doing fungos and such and it just helped lighten up a long practice. The kids didn’t tend to stagnate during the practice while waiting in a line for a pop-fly or ground ball during fungo drills.

    We actually found that “reggie” music with a smooth beat helped during BP. Kids seemed to find a rhythm in their swing. Maybe it was just our imagination…

    Background noise will be inevitable during game play, so why not introduce it into your practices. The kids seem to enjoy it and so do our coaches.

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