The Pros and Cons of Playing Music During Practices

There are coaches on both sides of the music argument. Some love playing music during practices. Some hate it. Here are the reasons why coaches might either love or hate playing music during practices.

The pros of playing music:
Music can improve an athlete’s mindset for training. Some songs get you pumped up. Some songs get you motivated to work hard. Some songs get you relaxed and loose. Some songs make you happy, laugh, and dance. These are all positive emotions that help athletes train hard, execute well, and be happy. These kind of coaches prioritize happy, motivated athletes, so they allow and encourage music to be played during practices.

The cons of playing music:
The coaches who don’t allow music to be played during practices are not blind to the benefits of music. They just prioritize other things. They still want motivated and happy athletes. But they think athletes should already by happy and motivated to practice without music. They are more concerned with teaching athletes skills and getting things done. These coaches may think that music is distracting. It is harder to hear and learn instructions/skills if the music is loud and distracting. Other coaches may say things like “we are here to work and improve, not to dance around.”

There is another subtle disadvantage of playing music during practices. Like any reward, athletes can get too dependent on using music to motivate themselves. If they are too used to music at practices, they may have trouble motivating themselves when there isn’t music playing during games. Also, without music, they may think “practice is no fun without music” and start to lose interest in their sport. The coaches who are against music are aware of this potential problem. Therefore they want athletes who are intrinsically motivated and happy to play their sport without music. With the right environment, training regimen, and mindset, athletes shouldn’t need music to be motivated and happy during practices.

As you can see, there are good reasons on both sides of the music argument. As a coach or player, pick the side that fits your personality and situation. But perhaps the best thing to do is to balance the two sides. Try using music in a way that doesn’t distract from teaching and productivity. And use music in way that doesn’t suppress the athlete’s natural intrinsic motivation for their sport. The goal is to maximize the advantages of music while minimizing the disadvantages of music.