When we talk about mental health, our minds are often as diverse as our tastes in music. What excites, what calms, what lyrics are etched into your subconscious for days upon end. Certain songs for certain times that become ingrained in the culture of a club. Think the New York Yankees and classics like, “New York, New York”, or fan-adopted anthems a la “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers, which has since become synonymous with Liverpool’s pre-kickoff festivities.
Clubs aside, the athletes themselves often have pre-game routines that go unnoticed. Yet, in this day and age where we focus on gaining an edge in whatever manner they can, optimum rest, pre-game conditioning and diet take center stage.
In my opinion, the unheralded aid of athletes everywhere is music. Whether you prefer one genre to another, many of us tend to express our emotions through flowing symphonies of instruments or the slowly building intros leading up to your favorite chorus. Getting “in the zone”, adding “some pep in your step” or, more simply put, building positivity and momentum helps many of us in our daily lives. So, in our first edition of the Athlete’s Voice “Open Blog Series”, let’s see what some fellow athletes pointed to as their go-to “Mental Health Music”.
Haqqeem Razak – University of East Anglia Baseball & Softball President
“All Star” – Smash Mouth
This is a difficult decision. Like the colours of the rainbow, every song genre has something different to offer. So, I will set a situation.
Right before an important game, I am nervous and tense. I might be overthinking the outcomes, but this is all normal. I have been training for weeks for this game, but now why am I nervous?
I’d say my song for when these situations arise is “All Star” by Smash Mouth.
As I listen to it, my inner kid comes out and I sway to the lyrics. In that instance, I distance myself from the situation and relax. Relax. Relax. Upon reaching the chorus, I find myself lip-syncing along to the words:
“Hey now you’re an All Star get your game on, go play
Hey now you’re a Rock Star get the show on get paid
And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold.”
Only then do I remember all the work, training and time I’ve devoted purely for this moment, this game. I lose the doubt I had and the nerves vanish, as if they were never there.
Matilda Brenham Williams – University of East Anglia Softball Captain
“Blood in the Cut” – K. Flay
Although she’s singing about bad things that have happened to her, such as a breakup, her voice has so much power it’s like she’s taking back control of her life. The small things pale in comparison to her strength and I want to be like that when I’m on the field, strong despite making mistakes and always moving forward.
Plus, most importantly, it’s a banger.
Leme Oliver – Former University of East Anglia Baseball & Softball Social Secretary
Artists: Chief Keef & Gesu No Kiwami Otome
So you want to know about the perfect jams do you? Gather round the fire and let Uncle Lem tell you a story.
For me, music is very personal and very important. Whether in the gym or before a game, I’m rolling with Rick Ross – Hold Me Back; Devil is a Lie – or Chief Keef. Basically anything to put you in the mood for therapeutically murdering baseball’s or your personal best on the weights.
For practice or to calm the nerves, J-Pop – Gesu No Kiwami Otome is my band of choice – or Darwin Deez does the trick. Just anything to put me in a good mood, usually ending with me singing loudly and obnoxiously. It’s my truly personal relationship with music that leaves me knowing someday my gravestone will read:
Beloved Musician, Father, Husband and Musician.
(Editor’s Note: Leme chose to include “Musician” twice. This is not a typo, we repeat, this is not a typo.)
Andreas Fopp – Former University of East Anglia Baseball Vice-Captain
“The Show Goes On” – Lupe Fiasco
Often when we look back to our teenage or early adult years, we may remember the songs of our youth that rang truer to us in years gone by than they would at present. After all, those phases of interest tend to ebb and flow, like that one time we were obsessed with DJs and decided to create our own electronic ‘anthem’ (yes – I did and still have yet to remove it from Soundcloud).
However, one song has been there for me, through all the injuries, bad grades and late nights. It oozes confidence under the assertion that ‘your journey doesn’t end here’. It takes me back to the hot summer days I would spend running along the wide, suburban, sun-soaked roads near my house in Gig Harbor, Washington.
At the time, I thought of myself as persevering against nothing more than the exhaustion causing my legs to steadily feel more leaden. Nowadays, the Lupe Fiasco’s message resonates in a very different manner, yet with the same impact.
We all will experience adversity in one form or another in our lifetimes. Whether we push onward will be down to a number of things, yet if one thing holds true I hope it would be the reassurance Lupe’s lyrics provides.
So, if the words of Billy Ocean are anything to live by, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.
(Andreas’ honorable mention: “Ride The Wave” – Cosmos & Creature)
I’d like to give special thanks to Haqqeem, Matty and Leme for sharing their thoughts on music and mental health. We’re already looking forward to the next edition of our “Open Blog Series” and welcome submissions or messages to any of our social media platforms!
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