UC athletes share the best pump-up music before competition

Photo courtesy of Henry Gustafson

Jonny Cope


“The music just gets me pumped up and in the zone,” said first-year Ursinus College football and track and field athlete Matt Gallagher, when asked about the potential impacts of pre-competition music.

Like Gallagher, most athletes across the wide world of sports will jam to their favorite songs  before every contest. Here at Ursinus, track and field athletes do the same; many runners and throwers plug in their headphones and rock out to their favorite tracks before competing.

“A majority of my pregame music is rap,” said Gallagher. “I [also] tend to listen to some alternative rock and some hip/house remixes.”

Gallagher likes to keep things consistent. Whether he is playing football or competing in track and field, he does not make any drastic changes to his pregame set.

“No matter what sport I’m doing I will generally go through the same routine to get focused,” he said.

Matt’s go-to track is “Horse” by PNB Rock, featuring Kodak Black and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie.

“I really enjoy the beats and some of the lyrics,” he said. By featuring a fair amount of rap and hip hop on his playlist, Gallagher is jamming to some of the more popular trends in today’s music industry.

“Even though I do not have a favorite genre of music, I love listening to country and rap music,” said junior middle-distance runner and newly minted thrower Connor Lent.

Lent has been busy during this spring’s outdoor season. Since he has been kept out of the 800-meter run by a nagging leg injury, Lent has used music to help him transition to the throwing events and make the most out of what could have been a lost season.

“I listen to a lot of country music before competing,” he added. “It’s not the most typical type that people listen to, but it helps get me in the zone before competition.”

Lent has a wide ranging taste in music—country and rap are two very distinct categories. As for his go to track, Lent toggles between two songs, “DNA.” by the ever more popular Kendrick Lamar and “Somethin’ I’m Good At” by country star Brett Eldredge. Unlike Gallagher, Lent works to keep a fluid playlist, updating it with his changing tastes in music.

“In high school I listened to exclusively rap and hip hop,” he said. “I’ve expanded out since my Ursinus track career started.”

Like Lent, Ursinus College sophomore distance runner Evan Cirafesi also tunes into his favorite country songs before competing.

“Before warming up, I’ll listen to country music,” said Cirafesi. “It helps me settle down.”

People tend to call pregame music pump-up music, but this is not always the case: Some athletes, like Cirafesi, use music to calm their nerves before competing. Despite his love for country, Cirafesi turns to a classic rock song right before he hits the track. His go-to is Guns N’ Roses’ hit track “Welcome to the Jungle.” Cirafesi has also used music to help get through what has been a tough year, as he has spent a majority of the fall, winter, and spring with the trainers, sidelined by continuous leg injuries.

“While doing rehab I listen to music,” he said. “It gives me added energy.”

One major reason for listening to pregame music is that it may help improve athletic performance.

“I think it definitely helps,” said Gallagher. “It gets me going and puts me into a mentality that I do not think I can get without music.”

This is a rationale used by not just Ursinus track and field athletes, as pregame music is a mainstay at most sporting events. According to an online article by Alejandra Ruani and The Health Sciences Academy, pre-competition music has been found to improve athletic performance. Whether this is true or not is disputable, but it seems to be a common feeling among most athletes that it does help.

“I do not necessarily believe that the music helps me perform better,” said Lent. “Although I do think it helps me focus more on the challenge ahead, which can be advantageous.”

Music is a major part of almost all sporting events as athletes prepare themselves for battle using their favorite tunes. Although the music may not be the same for each sport, athletes ultimately have the same goal of placing themselves in a position where they can successful.

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