Music isn’t just something you take with you; it also takes you where you want to go. For professional athletes, that’s straight to the top of their game. Science backs up the impact of music for athletes, too, as studies have shown the undeniable connection between music and athletic performance time and time again, confirming its power to push athletes harder and inspire greater focus.
That would come as no surprise to athletes like nine-time medalist Allyson Felix, who always pumps up to Beyoncé’s song, “Diva.” “When you’re a sprinter, you have to turn it on,” she explains. “I’m going against people who are fierce, and we all want to win. I feel like I have to listen to this song to get into that zone and be ready to go. Every big race, I remember listening to it.”
For sports fans, the connection between athletes and music isn’t hard to spot, as images abound in the media of athletes sporting headphones or sweatproof earbuds during workouts and pre-game warmups, or while they’re getting off the team bus before an event.
But what do the athletes themselves think about the value of music in sports? Sharing their thoughts are world-champion boxer and mixed martial artist Claressa Shields; 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith of the Philadelphia Eagles; 2020 U.S. Open winner, Bryson DeChambeau; and 2021 NFL Draft first-round picks, Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Zach Wilson of the New York Jets, and Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears.
Claressa Shields: Music is therapy for me. I’ve always been a thinker. It’s hard to think with a lot of noise or people around. Music gives me the chance to have a conversation with myself and block out any outside noise. A lot of people don’t know this, but I listen to a lot of jazz and instrumentals. Music that keeps me calm. Fight week is the goal.
DeVonta Smith: I am a very quiet person, so when I’m in the gym or getting ready to perform, music gives me that escape to focus on myself. Without music, there are too many distractions.
Bryson DeChambeau: Music is an important part of my training and performance because it allows me to express my hunger for the grind. Music allows me to tap into that motivation setting. Without music, it’s hard to get in that groove and flow — it just feels off.
Trevor Lawrence: Music is my “step 1” anytime I head into training or prepare for a game. It pumps me up and gets me in the mood to train and perform at the highest level. I can’t imagine training without it. It would feel unnatural.
Zach Wilson: I’m always in the gym, and music allows me to focus on my workout. Music gives me that edge and spark to continue to push myself because without music I tend to lose focus.
Bryson: I feel that music itself doesn’t give athletes an advantage. The athlete, on the other hand, is able to use music as a means to tap into that inner “beast mode” mentality. This will only motivate the athlete and allow them to perform at their highest level and standard.
Trevor: I think the competitive edge comes from within one’s mindset, but it’s because of the music that a lot of athletes, including myself, are able to ascend to that next mental and physical level. Elevating your senses, lasering in your focus on the task at hand, and transforming your mental/physical state are all amplified through music.
Claressa: The day of the fight I mix my playlist with rap and gospel music — gospel because I know that God has blessed me to be on this stage and victorious, and rap because it speaks to my struggle and reminds of where I come from, and to remember that even though it’s a fight, I’ve been through harder things.
DeVonta: Any perfect playlist has to include Rick Ross or Lil Wayne. I love the old Lil Wayne because of how hard he used to go. When I perform, I’m going as hard as I can, so Lil Wayne gets me in the right mindset. The more chill music is for when I’m playing video games or cooking — I play lots of Anthony Hamilton.
Justin: I love all kinds of music; it really depends on my mood. I love Lil Baby, Future, Young Thug — any Atlanta artist really gets me amped up. But the next day, I could be listening to Beethoven before a game or a workout, so it really changes. My playlists are a little different, but I’m a slow guy. I love R&B music, as it helps me to have a calm mind.
Claressa: Honestly, being an overthinker and overachiever, I can sometimes get distracted by my own thoughts — training, relationships, friendships, business, money — it’s like my brain won’t turn off. When I put on my noise cancelling headphones, they drown out those thoughts, and I can just focus on the music.
DeVonta: Since I am a reserved person, it allows me to distance myself from everyone and focus on myself. Music is so powerful because of the escape.
Justin: I am a quiet guy, and I don’t talk to anyone before a game. I just need my music to get me in the right mindset to be the best leader out on the field that I can be. Music is great for the pump-up factor, but it’s also huge for me to realign when I am recovering or just need time to myself.
DeVonta: It has to be something from Lil Wayne’s The Carter IV. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time. Any song on that album I would be happy with.
Trevor: It’s so hard to choose. Some of my favorite artists are definitely John Mayer, Drake, Justin Bieber, Lil Baby, Jack Harlow, Kacey Musgraves, Alan Jackson, J. Cole, Lionel Richie, The Kid LAROI, and Post Malone. All of their collective songs could easily soundtrack my life.
Bryson: It’s definitely interesting to talk to some other golfers to see what they listen to. Music tells a huge story about someone; it’s part of who they are as a person.
Zach: I love taking music recommendations from my teammates. I’m always looking to expand my playlist, and being a rookie, music is a way for me to connect with everyone on my team.
DeVonta: When I’m walking onto the field for a game, I need to have a strong mindset so I can block out everyone else. There will always be people who aren’t rooting for you to win, and by having that focus and silence, I am able to focus on myself and my game.
Bryson: Moments of pure concentration — like when I’m on the putting green and really focusing on some technical work — require a lot of silence and a clear mind. This silence allows me to reflect and achieve.
Claressa: Noise cancelling is great, as it’s a distraction for me when people are talking about nonsense or negative things while I’m training, or just saying things that can throw me off. Noise cancelling — especially when I am running and doing my strength and conditioning workouts — keeps me in my zone and focused on the task at hand.
DeVonta: I’m really into fashion, so I care about the look of my products. A lot of other products haven’t prioritized the design, but Bose does a great job of that. Whether it’s the Bose QuietComfort® Earbuds, Headphones 700, or Sport Earbuds, I can wear them with anything, and their noise cancelling technology is the best.
Bryson: I look for something that is easy to wear and super comfortable — something that blocks outside noise and can be used no matter the occasion.
Trevor: I need crisp, solid sounds and the ability to hear the beats so vividly that you can almost feel them. Also, the fit is key. I move quickly and intensely when I train, and I need headphones or sweatproof earbuds that can keep the sound quality strong and stay put.
Zach: The number one priority is noise cancellation. My mantra is, “Work in silence, and let success be your noise.” When I use my Bose products, it’s just me and my music with no other distractions. Another important factor is the “fit.” Bose QuietComfort® Earbuds offers different size options for the in-ear piece. This allows me to adjust the product to fit my needs, which I love.