Anyone who’s thrown on their favorite playlist to grind through a treadmill session or achieved a new weight room PR thanks to Spotify knows that music can be a serious exercise motivator. It’s a truth that all of us can leverage to perform our physical best, including the world’s top athletes.
“I think there’s a beauty in music,” Crystal Dunn, defender for the US Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT), tells SELF. “It’s similar to sports, where it’s like you just come alive when you are near it and you feel it.”
Research supports these energizing effects, confirming listening to music can enhance physical performance and make exercise feel easier—while also simply boosting your well-being.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that as the USWNT attempts to defend their title at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, they’re leaning on the power of music to stoke them into competition mode. Recently, SELF chatted with a number of the players to learn what specific tunes they’re blasting for inspiration before they take the field.
Dunn, for one, says she loves pretty much all genres of music but is a big fan of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. Cardi B, in particular, gives her that “pumped-up, ready-to-go kind of vibes,” she says. Midfielder Andi Sullivan prefers Beyoncé—lots of Beyoncé—including the artist’s Homecoming: The Live Album recorded at Coachella. “I love it, and I just listen to it straight through as much as I can before I get to the locker room,” Sullivan tells SELF.
Several other players, including midfielder Julie Ertz and defender Alana Cook, dig a good Rihanna ballad, while forward Lynn Williams and defender Emily Fox are big on Drake. On the flip side, forward Alyssa Thomspon favors more mellow songs from artists like SZA and Summer Walker as a way to quash before-competition jitters.