Pump up the volume
The pressure can be daunting. With fans cheering and booing, and the opposing team walking on the court, easy distractions can deter any athlete preparing for battle. But while sitting on the bench with pressure in the air, athletes often turn to one thing to keep them calm — music.
Valerie Carillo, a former Santa Monica College volleyball player, listens to music as an isolation method in order to separate herself from the crowd before a game.
"It kind of blocks out the audience because sometimes the audience distracts you, so when you have the music, it kind of gets you focused," she says.
While music and sports may each be on separate scales when it comes to the talent required to succeed in either one, for many, there is a correlation found when the two are combined.
Carillo says music was always a way to calm herself and block her surroundings in order to focus on the tasks at hand. Her favorite genre is hip-hop, and she prefers upbeat songs to fuel her momentum before a workout and bring the rest of her team together.
"I feel like it actually bonds a team together as well," she says. "If you have the same genre of music that you all like, you can goof around and it's like team bonding."
For all of its benefits in mental preparation, Carillo would rather not listen to her favorite tunes while in the weight room.
"Music makes me dance, and I feel like I would want to dance, and I would want to focus [in the weight room]," she says.
SMC student Michael Thompson echoes Carillo's feelings toward music for preparation. He says music would help "get the juices flowing" before a game. His favorite type of music is R&B;, including artists such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and R. Kelly.
His favorite songs to listen to before a game were R. Kelly's "This is What I Feel," and the collaboration of Eminem and Nate Dogg, "'Till I Collapse."
"Those were it," Thompson says. "Those would put me in the right state of mind right before a game."
As a member of SMC's track and field team, Brandon Scorza uses music as a way to relax himself during a warmup, but does not listen to it during an actual workout.
"It gets you in the zone," he says. "You zone out from everything else, and you're more or less focused on what it is you're trying to get accomplished."
Scorza says he enjoys '90s hip-hop the most. Reggae artist Bob Marley and hip-hop group The Fugees are some of his favorite artists.
However, he feels the content present in hip-hop of the '90s no longer exists in today's era.
"I don't really care for the new era of music because it's not really talking about much," Scorza says.
He believes that it is the older artists of hip-hop that really help him focus during some of his workouts.
Along with Scorza, fellow track and field member Deante Wilborn utilizes the different tempos of music depending on what activity he is doing and the mood he is in.
During a weightlifting session, Wilborn listens to more upbeat music to provide himself motivation and intensity. During cardio workouts, he prefers a much softer tempo. But no matter what the activity, music itself serves one purpose for him.
"It works out big-time for me," Wilborn says. "It helps me block out surroundings like the stands and the cheerleaders and just gets my mind straight to the game."
Gifford Lindheim, head coach of SMC's football team, praises music and its effect on an athlete's mindset.
"Music creates emotion," he says. "Athletes use certain music to get them into a particular mindset before games."
On his own team, Lindheim says he notices that the majority of his players listen to rap during workouts, but he maintains that everyone responds differently to different music.
While his players may find peace within music during preparation, Lindheim uses different methods to stabilize his own mindset.
"For me personally, I like to calm my mind by isolating," he says. "I do some breathing and focus on my breath. I like to be completely present in the moment so that I can make good decisions, not emotional ones."
But for those in need of that extra wind toward the finish line, sometimes all it may take is a pair of earbuds and a play button to block away any distractions.
"It gets me pumped up and motivated," Carillo says. "I feel I get excited more. It kind of gives you that extra drive and push."