Finding Your Rythm… Literally

Poppa Chubby, B.B. King, Susan Tedeschi, Buddy Guy, Keith Richards, Walter Trout, Johnny Lang, Tab Benoit, Robben Ford, and Albert Cummings were all on the playlist for my 9-holes of golf.  With my Ipod on, I managed to pick my targets, enjoy a walk, and shoot sub-bogey golf and… it does not appear that I broke any USGA rules:

Rule 14-3

Wearing Headphones or Earplugs During Stipulated Round

A. The Rules of Golf do not prohibit a player from using headphones, provided they do not communicate information on the conditions (such as weather) which are relevant to his play or otherwise assist the player in his play. Please refer to Rule 14-3, Decision 14-3/16 and the penalty statement under Rule 14-3. Additionally, the Rules of Golf do not prohibit a player from using earplugs, provided it does not assist the player in his play – (Rule 14-3). Finally, a prudent player would avoid the appearance of any possible breach of the Rules. The decision on whether a breach has occurred needs to be made by a rules official or other member of a Committee on a case by case basis, taking all of the circumstances into consideration.

Upon discussions with others, we decided that some local rules officials might not be pleased with my playing Ipod golf, but that’s not truly the issue I want to take up.  Was my blues list a performance enhancer, a distraction, or just something that made my 9-hole walk a bit more enjoyable?  Andy Saalfield provided a nice summary of the potential benefits to music on physical performance and health in the November 2008 issue of Athletic Therapy Today (vol 13 issue 6).  The following are a few notes of particular interest in this situation:

  • Music influences relaxation levels
  • Certain rhythms can reduce pain and increase strength
  • Music can improve focus and clarify goals
  • Music can stimulate learning (the” Mozart Effect”)
  • Musical patterns can enhance motor skills

While there are certain benefits to music on athletic performance, not all music is created the same and rhythms should be select wisely and used purposely.  The following are a few initial thoughts that should be considered prior to putting The Eye of the Tiger on loop when striving for a Rocky-like performance:

  1. The rhythm of the music must be somewhat in sync with the rhythm of the physical activity.  Aggressive music will lead to high energy and higher levels of stress.  Mellow music will slow the body.
  2. The music cannot take focus away from the task at hand.  If the lyrics are what makes the music great or singing along comes quite naturally, it is probably the wrong musical selection.  The rhythms of the music seem to be the performance enhancing parts.  They by themselves can aid focus and relaxation.
  3. Individualize.  The one thing that seems to be clear is that there is not a clear recipe for musically enhanced performances.  For some music is a distraction, others it aids focus (consider some of Langer’s research and theories).   Also, while rhythms might be relatively universal, the lyrics and styles that go with each can be a matter of taste.

Perhaps the bottom line, with or without an Ipod, is that rhythm is important for mind, body, and performance.  Finding it regardless of the score, pace of play, or competitive situation is valuable.

The actual wisdom and appropriateness of earphones on a driving range or golf course, I will leave for others to debate…

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3 Responses to “Finding Your Rythm… Literally”


  1. 1 Mason Astley May 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    “Additionally, the Rules of Golf do not prohibit a player from using earplugs, provided it does not assist the player in his play – (Rule 14-3).”

    I don’t know golf that well, but, um, what? You can do this thing as long as it doesn’t help you? If it helps you, let us know and we’ll disqualify you.

  2. 2 nabil July 16, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I liked this article…it would be great to have an algorithm that dissects songs and instantly gives them a score for their ability to:
    Music influences relaxation levels
    Certain rhythms can reduce pain and increase strength
    Music can improve focus and clarify goals
    Music can stimulate learning (the” Mozart Effect”)
    Musical patterns can enhance motor skills

    and build a playlist right for you. Maybe something for FiVi.com?

    • 3 AHNaylor July 16, 2010 at 10:07 am

      Hey Nabil,

      That would be terrific. If anything/one can pull this off in a practical way it’s Fivi.com. Most workout to music… what’s bringing out the best efforts and enjoyment? A great question to ask and answer.

      – Adam


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