In the last week I have attended two training sessions.
One with a sports psychologist and the other with a National athlete.

Both talked about activation.

According to a sports psychology research there is a correlation between level of arousal and peak performance (Lauer, 2010). This idea put forward is that there is an optimal level of “activation” before competition.  If you have ever watched a Haka (traditional war cry dance of the Māori)  then you have seen a flown-blown activation.Walk by any dressing room before a big sports game and chances are you will hear blaring music, team chants and versions of what “getting pumped” looks like.

But here is what you might not know about activation.
There are actually three levels and any of one of them might be optimal (who knew?)
Medium. and

Depending on what you are about to do, the level of intensity you must maintain and how long you must maintain it, is whatshould determine your “optimal activation level”.

You see, not every sport or game or event calls for high activation.

If you watch the Olympics you clearly see all three versions of activation.
The swimmers and gymnasts preparing with calmness,  slow breathing, creating an inward focus.  This is an example of low activation.
Whereas the runners and sprinters had a more medium activation approach, jumping and readying themselves without getting too hyped up nor too relaxed.
In contrast is some of the team events like the rowers or basketball or rugby players coming out like gang busters in the ‘classic’ high activation.

The moral of this story?
Personalize your activation.

Us non-olympic athletes can use these tools from high performance sports.
The key is in knowing what level of activation you need for the task at hand.

Here is my coaches challenge:
Make three different playlists with music that creates low, medium and high activation.

Then try them out.
Just before you have to do something that requires a bit of focus, intensity or specific result, put on one of your playlists.  Notice if the playlist supports the state you want to be in to create optimal results.

Find yourself too relaxed?  Try the medium.
Not hyped enough? Go to the next level.
Too much adrenaline?  Take it down a notch and re-set.

Music is a great activation anchor.
Before you know it, all you have to do is hear the first bars of ‘that’ song you played just before magic happened and voila!


To playlists with purpose.