Tennis, Music and Rhythm

The American percussionist Mickey Hart once said: 
Life is about rhythm. We vibrate, our hearts are pumping blood, we are a rhythm machine, that’s what we are.

It is a well-known fact that sportspersons listen to music while training or during warm-ups. We often see NBA players plugged in during pre-match warmups. Warm-ups for events such as marathons sometimes include music and dancing, which helps loosen up one’s body and also relax the mind. An article  on the web make a note of how music can improve training performance and boost athletes’ moods. It is also reported that music increases stamina and reduces boredom while training.
Music releases serotonin, which is the feel-good hormone, meaning that it can increase an athlete’s productivity. Another factor which contributes to an athlete’s performance is tempo and rhythm. Songs with upbeat tempos reportedly increased athletes’ stamina by 20%, because it distracted the sportspersons from the physically demanding activity.
In an interview , Dr. Mark Kovacs talks about rhythm in tennis in particular. The article, titled Why rhythm is important in tennis covers topics such as kinetic chain sequencing and energy transfer. Dr. Kovacs correlates physics with movement and performance in tennis. He notes that rhythm helps the player transfer energy from the lower part of the body to the upper and subsequently to the racquet and ball. According to him, this helps the player optimize pace and spin, which leads to better performance. Apart from this, rhythm helps reduce the risk of injury, prevents the over-exertion of certain body parts, thereby enabling an efficient use of energy.

Tennis players often use music to “get into the zone” and loosen up, allowing the body to function more freely. This happens on both, a psychological and physical level.

Serena Williams revealed  that she grooves to the song ‘Maniac’ from the movie Flashdance before matches. Another song that she listens to is ‘THIQUE’ by Beyoncé.

John McEnroe, one of the fieriest players in tennis history claimed that he listened to classic rock before matches. This included artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Police.

Although Rafael Nadal never revealed his choice in music before matches, Mats Wilander, former world no. 1, apparently overheard Rafa listening to Spanish flamenco music in the locker room.

An article from 2018  reveals that Caroline Wozniacki listened to artists such as Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift. This helped her get in the mood, and if this didn’t work, she would go for intense music.
Victoria Azarenka would create dance exercises to comply with her passion for dance. Being a fan of Rihanna, she could be found singing on court to dispel pressure and stay calm.

Naomi Osaka apparently powered her tough first round win in the 2016 US Open by singing a Beyoncé song to herself after the first set. She is also a fan of the early albums of Kanye West.

This goes to show how music, rhythm and tennis go hand in hand. This is the case for most sports, where music helps sportspersons to relax and get into a rhythm. Music is a welcome distraction that can help with tennis player’s mental state in their match.

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