clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Soccer Science: Music to win to

The Brazilian national team, at their best, embodies the heart and soul of Samba music. Now, with a recent German publication showing a link between synchronized music and positive results on the soccer field, Dynamo Theory is searching for music that Houston can win to.

"Country song with bagpipes, steel drums, and vocals by OBG" - best. response. ever.
"Country song with bagpipes, steel drums, and vocals by OBG" - best. response. ever.
Al Bello

Quick - think back to the Brazilian national team circa 2002. Imagine them playing: storming across South Korea and Japan like Godzilla (is that politically incorrect? Maybe just lazy?) to win yet another World Cup. Picture Ronaldo: pre-beer belly, absolutely abusing defenders. Picture a young Ronaldinho: long hair flowing behind him like a cavalry's sigil as he staked his claim to the future of Brazilian soccer. Picture that free kick against England: when Seaman just couldn't believe that the kid would try to shoot. Finally, picture Ronaldinho turning to celebrate.

What do you hear?

Music. Samba music to be exact, ringing in the flair and passion of Brazilian soccer. The fast paced, choreographed-and-yet-completely-improvised play that defined a generation. These players grew up playing in the streets to that same music. The drumbeat flows through their veins, fueling them, tying them together in some way that no one could quite explain.

Until this week, when scientists at the Institute for Sports Science at the University of Hanover, studying the effects of music on soccer play, reached an interesting, if not completely expected, conclusion: music, when synchronized between teammates, can improve performance on the field.

Their methods were as follows:

The first match was without music. In the second game one team w[as] given wireless headphones and fast-paced electronic music of 140 beats a minute was transmitted to them from the sidelines and synchronised to within a thousandth of a second.

The other team were also given headphones, each player receiving different pieces of music of differing rhythm. During the third game, the teams switched places, with one hearing music synchronously, the other asynchronously.

Together with professional football coaches, the scientists then analysed the teams' performances according to recognised criteria: the frequency and accuracy of passes and the successful conclusion of a game. Goals were only included in the analysis if they were the result of teamwork.

Their analysis of the data led to the sort of clear and conclusive result scientists hanker after but rarely get: the team hearing synchronised music played "significantly better" from a statistical point of view.

-The Guardian

These results are now being adopted into a practical setting by coaches in Germany. While not applicable for matches like you'd see in the NBA, the idea here is to create a team identity during practice that could translate to matches. Coaches could manipulate game scenarios in practice based on the type of music transmitted to their players - fast music for an offensive attack, slow for the methodical bleeding of game time at the end of a winning match.

So, Dynamo fans: Brazil has Samba, Germany probably has some post-apocalyptic techno rave music, but what about us? When you see the men in orange firing on all cylinders, what music do you hear? What music should Dom be playing during practices mid-week?

We opened up this question on social media, and got some very interesting responses:

All (we) Do Is Win - DJ Khaled

Straight to the point and truthful, although not necessarily a critically acclaimed masterpiece.

The Imperial March

While I can't say the Dynamo kicking the ball around to this song will inspire any of the Beautiful Game, it does have an air of unstoppability to it. Imagine all of BBVA singing this together.

"Country song with bagpipes, steel drums, and vocals by OBG"

This, obviously, isn't a real thing, but what it lacks in reality it makes up for in sheer fancifulness. Tying the region in which we live to the nationalities of coach, midfielders, and forwards, this could conceivably be the greatest song in the history of the world. Moreover, it would serve as a representation of the melting pot here in the US of A. After all, if you put a bunch of great genres together, all that can come of it is great music, right? (See: Tracy Jordan EGOT'ing in 30 Rock and Dewey Cox in Walk Hard)

"Marathon" - Rush

Not my style, but I can dig it.

Anything by Dave Grohl

This may not be your favorite of his vast array of musical endeavors. If that's the case, I apologize. However, I chose this from all others because of the variety it allowed. The slow, hypnotic moments fit perfectly with late game lead protection, while the feral rush of the chorus fits with the blitzkrieg-like counterattack we employ at times.

Houston Dynamo - Mike Jones

Only because its Mike Jones. Who? Mike Jo... oops sorry. High school caught up with me there.

So, what do you think, Dynamo fans? Do you fancy more of the southern rap game, something more sinister, or a light-hearted ditty by OBG? Fill out the poll below. If you answer "Other", include your idea in the comments.