Exploring musics affect on combat sports

A few thoughts of mine before I wrote an essay on sport performance & music on a Music Psychology course. They’re just thoughts with little empiricism at this stage. I enjoyed these thoughts.


  • Music & dance have evolved together.
  • If it’s true that fighting is an extension of human movement, then correlating music as a stimulant for combat movement could be a powerful force that is relatively unexplored.
  • In a gym setting, music is often chosen as a supplement to the physical task at hand.
  • My feeling is that in a gym (recreational, boxing gym, MMA gym, etc) music is chosen as a mood regulator.
  • But I don’t feel this undermines music in a sporting context.
  • Rather it makes music utilitarian in this context. Music’s purpose is clearly defined if it is restricted solely to mood regulation in this context.
  • Mood regulation > emotional regulation > motivational > preparation


  • Authors Paul & Steinlage write: music became “part fight-manual, training the participant to use sound and rhythm as patterned corporeal engagement.”
  • This is evidence of embodiment.
  • They also write… “music selection is used to psychologically prep a fighter.”

Discussion 1, Genre & Gender

  • Music selection is often gendered. I.e. Males & Females tend to want different content within their music. This will naturally impact performance.

Discussion 2, The Role of Music & fighting

  • Rhythmical qualities of music lead to an increase in energy and physical output in the few studies analyzed…
  • What are the neurological implications?
  • Dopamine release > peak pleasure > increase in physical exertion
  • This is a condensed breakdown for peak-pleasure, peak-experience.
  • Should the music aim to produce peak experiences for the participants to increase athletic performance?

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