If you go behind the scenes before a major competition, you’ll inevitably spot an athlete taking a quiet moment.
They might be sitting alone on the top tier of the bleachers, or on a tack trunk in the barn aisle, elbows to knees. You might even spot one pacing slowly around the backgate, eyes cast down. Look closer and you’ll see the earpods and internal focus firmly in place and perhaps the subtle rhythmic nod of their head to an inaudible beat.
Listening to music before competition is a proven technique to improve an athlete’s performance. Music is shown to distract from the negative thoughts and the pressure of competing in front of a crowd. It can encourage athletes to operate on autopilot, so they perform naturally as opposed to overthinking in high pressure moments. And it can also help them relax or amp up before competition.
What type of music helps put an athlete in that performance mindset however depends on the individual. If you’re Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington, it’s mostly rap. Like, a lot of rap.
Here’s Kent’s pre-game playlist, courtesy of the Rolex Grand Slam.