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What Music Pumps Up Famous Athletes?

Jock jams that make the grade.
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The idea of listening to music before a contest or during a workout is something that even kids tend to understand. And it’s certainly something that goes all the way up to the professional level, probably in every conceivable sport or league. Jack Del Rio, a coach in the NFL, probably put it best, saying simply that music is something that can inspire, and that he’s all for pretty much any type of music that might motivate his players. Suggesting that some like heavy metal, some rap, some country, etc., Del Rio calls it “their private entertainment” and speaks, from a successful coach’s perspective, about music’s use as a motivational tool. 

Del Rio is absolutely right that different athletes like different kinds of music for getting themselves pumped up. But what are some of the examples out there among famous and popular athletes? 

Jack Del Rio

We may as well start with the man who articulated the concept so well, because he too was a player once. Del Rio has noted Led Zeppelin as a favorite, and generally stated his preference for classic rock. This appears to be less common among current athletes, though it ought to be mentioned that the genre may be making a comeback of sorts. Some of the most popular video games online – slot reels and jackpots – have been adapted of late to include live-action backgrounds and in-game animations, and these have often included classic rock content. Groups like Guns N’ Roses, Motorhead, and others have lent their songs and aesthetics to game makers. And even in the actual music industry, some of the same groups have had touring resurgences. Classic rock isn’t the most popular among modern athletes, but we may well see some emulating Del Rio soon if the genre keeps creeping back into public attention, whether through online gaming, reunited groups, etc. 

Draymond Green

We could pick any number of NBA players to talk about, as many of them have shared what they listen to. Just a couple of years ago, in fact, one writer compiled a list of NBA playoff playlists from several players competing in the postseason. Among them, Draymond Green is probably the most noteworthy at this point, given that since the time of the article he’s helped the Golden State Warriors win multiple championships. Many NBA stars gravitate toward hip-hop, based on this article’s findings, and Green is no exception. Specifically listing songs by Drake, Chedda Da Connect, and a few others, he made it clear that this is his preferred genre for getting pumped up before even the biggest of games. 

Audie Cole

Audie Cole is not as big a name as Green. He’s currently a free agent, though he has been a professional linebacker in the NFL. He’s still an interesting case, however, in that he’s been asked about his music preferences before and said that his go-to is the Lit Pandora station. That means the station for the band Lit, which was popular around the turn of the century. This is not what we’d call traditional pump-up music, though somewhat like classic rock, this sort of pop-punk rock may be making a resurgence. It’s not appearing in online gaming or mega-concerts, but bands like Third Eye Blind (also mentioned by Cole) have been touring and putting out new music of late. Perhaps others will soon turn to the less conventional approach of Audi Cole, if this style of music continues to regain popularity. 

Kyle Beckerman

Beckerman is a player for the U.S. men’s national soccer team, and may actually have the most interesting pre-game music taste of all. He released his Brazil playlist for the 2014 World Cup in Rio, and it was basically full of a lot of really calm music that didn’t fit into any one genre. Between “The Heathen” by Bob Marley, “The General” by Dispatch, and “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons, it seems as if Beckerman’s preference is to calm himself down for a match, rather than pump himself up. 

This ought to give you some interesting ideas from some very accomplished figures. Of course, EDM – our usual focus – is also pretty popular on pregame playlists, and even on arranged workout lists from programs like Spotify and Pandora. It goes without saying that up-tempo, electronic music with a strong focus on beats is good for exercise, and a lot of athletes have included EDM songs in their own routines. But the above examples also demonstrate that Del Rio was right in pointing out that preferred pre-game music differs from player to player. Whatever works, works!