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The best national anthems for athletic performance

The best national anthems for athletic performance
Written by

James Picken

Published

November 21, 2022

Category

Music +

The 2022 World Cup has been engulfed by conversation around controversy. But despite that, football fans around the world have been excitedly anticipating the FIFA World Cup.

This excitement usually includes proudly wearing their team’s jersey and belting out favourite anthems. We know the impact music can have on our behaviour. These anthems certainly create a lively atmosphere, but can they actually help athletes perform better?

Studies have found that encouragement from crowds builds greater team cohesion and positive attitudes among athletes. This leads to better decision-making, faith in their own abilities and feelings of success and invincibility. Hearing support from crowds can also boost a player’s strength, skill, and speed, with crowd support showing the most impact on strength and endurance.

We set out to find the best anthems for athletic performance.

What did we look for?

To find out which national anthem offers the most encouragement for athletes, we analysed the national anthems of the 32 countries participating in the World Cup.

We used a number of data points like tempo and loudness, as well as the energy and positivity of each anthem, to rank each qualifying team’s national anthem based on its ability to improve athletic performance and generate crowd support.

So, what were the scores?

Interestingly, Ghana’s national anthem God Bless Our Homeland Ghana was ranked the best anthem, due to its energy and loudness contributing to the country’s overall score of 8.2 out of 10. As it stands, Ghana isn’t one of the tournament favourites to win, but perhaps their anthem may boost their performances.

Top 10 performance boosting national anthems

Country/National Anthem Tempo Loudness Energy Positiveness Performance Boost Score
1
GhanaGod Bless Our Homeland Ghana
5.8 9.7 10 7.4 8.2
2
SpainLa Marcha Real
10 10 3.9 7.2 7.8
3
TunisiaHumat al-Hima
7.5 6.4 5.2 10 7.3
4
PolandMazurek Dąbrowskiego
6.8 5.3 2.3 9.8 6.1
5
IranSoroud-e Melli-e Jomhouri-e Eslami-e Iran
3.8 7 4.6 7.9 5.8
6
CameroonO Cameroun, Berceau de nos Ancêtres
6.3 5.3 2.1 9.5 5.8
7
UruguayHimno Nacional
8 6.5 3.4 4.6 5.6
8
QatarAs Salam al Amiri
6.7 3.8 2.6 8.8 5.5
9
FranceLa Marseillaise
7.8 3.6 2.6 7.6 5.4
10
BrazilHino Nacional Brasileiro
8.3 2.7 2.3 6.7 5

Following Ghana with the second most inspiring national anthem is Spain’s La Marcha Real. Overall, it received a score of 7.8 for its performance-boosting ability. One of the key factors that make this anthem one of the best is its tempo. It has a BPM of 139, the highest of all the anthems in our study. Research has found that songs with a high BPM can increase heart rate and arousal, which can help prepare an athlete’s body for performance.

In third position is Tunisia’s national anthem Humat al-Hima. With a score of 7.3, it ranked highly for its tempo and positiveness, which rates how happy and cheerful a track is. One study found that when a song is picked for its motivational qualities, both psychological state and performance can be improved.

In fourth and fifth position respectively are Poland’s national anthem Mazurek Dąbrowskiego and Iran’s Soroud-e Melli-e Jomhouri-e Eslami-e Iran. Poland’s national anthem received a score of 6.1 while Iran received a score of 5.8.

What about our own?

Although many English supporters belt out God Save the King with passion, it may come as a surprise that it’s only ranked 23rd in our study. This is in part due to its relatively low energy and positiveness.

It also has a volume of -15.13 decibels, which is among one of the softest national anthems we looked at. Research suggests that music played at higher volumes increases arousal which can result in increased work output. As a result, a softer anthem like God Save the King may not be as motivating as others.

Interestingly, Three Lions, which is considered an unofficial national anthem in England, would be a more motivating song for players and fans. It performs better in all aspects we looked at, including a higher tempo and loudness, which could boost team performance.

“It’s fascinating to see the impact that that music can have on both crowds and athletes. A short, sharp, punchy anthem combined with these other factors is sure to get the team and fans pumped up.”

- James, Creative Director

We'd love to figure out the best music for your business' performance. Here's our number +44 (0)203 397 7676, or get in touch here.


Methodology:

We used Wikipedia to find the name of the National Anthem for every country competing at the World Cup 2022.

We used Startle's internal data to identify the tempo (bpm) and loudness (decibels) of each anthem as performed by an orchestral band, and Musicstax to find the energy and positiveness of each anthem.

The data for each metric was normalised to give the anthems a score between zero and ten using the following formula:

Formula

The normalised scores were then averaged to assign each anthem a "performance boost score" out of 10.

The full musical data for each anthem can be viewed here.

The best national anthems for athletic performance

James Picken

Creative Director at Startle. It's my job to produce and execute our music output, making sure everything is sounding, feeling and performing just right for our customers. When I'm not doing this, you can find me either walking my dog, remixing 90s divas on Logic Pro X, returning overdue library books or throwing weights about in the gym.

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