Music in Gymnastics: How Can It Enhance Performance

Discover how music impacts gymnastics and enhances athlete performance and artistry. Explore the psychology of music, and its impact on choreography, training, competition, and judging, and learn the importance of music selection. Unlock the power of music in gymnastics and take your routines to the next level

gymnast dancing

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Gymnastics is a highly competitive and demanding sport that requires athletes to combine strength, agility, flexibility, and artistry in their routines. While the focus is often on the physical aspects of the sport, the role of music in gymnastics is just as important. Music can help gymnasts to enhance their performance and add an artistic element to their routines. In this article, we will explore the ways in which music impacts gymnastics and how it can help athletes to excel.

The Psychology of Music in Gymnastics

Music has a powerful effect on the human brain and can impact mood, emotions, and motivation. In gymnastics, music can help to create a positive and energizing atmosphere that can boost the athlete’s confidence and focus. The right music can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, enabling the gymnast to perform better under pressure.

The Impact of Music on Choreography

Gymnastics routines require a combination of strength, flexibility, and artistry. Music can help to enhance the artistic element of the routine by providing a framework for the gymnast to follow. The tempo and rhythm of the music can guide the athlete through their movements and help them to create a visually stunning routine.

Music as a Training Tool

Music can also be used as a tool to aid in training. Gymnasts can use music to help them develop their rhythm, timing, and coordination. They can also use music to help them visualize their routines and practice their movements to the beat of the music. This can help them to develop muscle memory and improve their overall performance.

The Role of Music in Competition

Music plays a crucial role in setting the tone for the athlete’s routine in gymnastics competitions. The right music can help to create a sense of excitement and anticipation for the audience and judges. It can also help to enhance the athlete’s performance by providing a backdrop for their movements and creating a sense of drama and emotion.

Only Women’s Artistic floor routines use music, the men have none. Traditionally, the expectation for female gymnasts to dance gracefully has been part of the sport. But who knows what future developments may bring… it’s possible that one-day male gymnasts will also have music as part of their floor routines as well!

Rhythmic gymnasts also use music, but as many of you will know already, rhythmic gymnastics is a female-only discipline, at least as far as competitive events are concerned.

The only gymnastics disciplines that see male gymnasts perform to music are:

Music and Floor Exercise

Floor exercise is one of the most important events in gymnastics, and music plays a critical role in this event. The music sets the tone for the athlete’s routine and helps to guide their movements. The right music can also help to enhance the emotional impact of the routine and create a memorable performance for the audience.

Famous Gymnastics Floor Music

Here are ten iconic floor routines along with the music that made them so memorable!

  1. Simone Biles, 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships, “Medley: My All / The Voice Within” by Whitney Houston / Christina Aguilera
  2. Nadia Comăneci, 1976 Montreal Olympics, “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saëns
  3. Aly Raisman, 2012 London Olympics, “Hava Nagila” by various artists
  4. Shawn Johnson, 2008 Beijing Olympics, “August’s Rhapsody” by Mark Mancina
  5. Nastia Liukin, 2008 Beijing Olympics, “Dark Eyes” by traditional Russian folk music
  6. Laurie Hernandez, 2016 Rio Olympics, “The Crazy Ones” by Paloma Faith
  7. Mary Lou Retton, 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, “The Theme from The West Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein
  8. Gabby Douglas, 2012 London Olympics, “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin
  9. Jordyn Wieber, 2011 World Championships, “African Drums” by various artists
  10. Katelyn Ohashi, 2019 Collegiate Challenge, “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner

The Importance of Music Selection

Selecting the right music is crucial to the success of a gymnastics routine. The music should be chosen to match the athlete’s personality, style, and strengths. It should also be selected to create the desired emotional impact and enhance the overall artistic quality of the routine.

Can the Music contain lyrics?

Yes, Gymnastics floor routines can have lyrics in their music. The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) rules allow gymnasts to perform routines to music that includes both instrumental and vocal parts. In fact, many gymnasts have chosen to perform to music with lyrics in recent years. Some famous examples include Simone Biles’ routine set to “Medley: My All / The Voice Within” by Whitney Houston / Christina Aguilera and Laurie Hernandez’s routine set to “The Crazy Ones” by Paloma Faith.

However, it’s worth noting that the lyrics cannot contain offensive language or messages that go against the spirit of the sport. It’s also worth checking the rules for specific competitions to see if there are regulations regarding music selection.

The rules regarding music for gymnastics floor routines have evolved over time. In the past, there were restrictions on the use of music with lyrics. For example, during the 1980s and early 1990s, the FIG required that all music used in gymnastics competitions be instrumental. However, this rule was changed in the mid-1990s, and since then, gymnasts have been allowed to use music with lyrics in their floor routines, as long as the lyrics do not contain any inappropriate or offensive content. Today, music with lyrics is quite common in gymnastics floor routines, and many gymnasts choose to perform to songs that have meaningful lyrics or that help them connect with the audience.

Can Gymnasts use Disney Music?

Disney does allow its music to be used in gymnastics routines, but permission must be obtained from the company in advance. This is because Disney owns the rights to a large catalog of music from its movies, TV shows, and theme parks, and it’s important to obtain permission and pay any necessary fees in order to use this music in public performances. Gymnasts or their coaches should contact Disney’s licensing department to request permission to use specific Disney songs in their routines. It’s worth noting that Disney may not grant permission for certain songs or may require certain conditions or fees in order to use their music, so it’s important to plan ahead and communicate with Disney’s licensing department in advance.

Is there any Music not Allowed?

Yes, there have been examples of music not being granted use in gymnastics routines or other public performances. Cirque du Soleil, for example, is known for its elaborate acrobatic performances set to music. However, the company is very protective of its music and other intellectual property and has taken legal action against individuals and organizations that have used their music without permission.

Plenty of musicians and record labels have been known to sue individuals or organizations for unauthorized use of their music, so it’s important to obtain permission and pay any necessary fees before using copyrighted music in public performances.

Music and Judging

In gymnastics competitions, judges evaluate the athlete’s performance based on a number of factors, including technique, difficulty, and artistry. Music can play a role in the artistry score, as it is used to enhance the athlete’s performance and create a sense of emotion and drama.

In my experience as a judge at competitions, good use of music can influence the judge’s perception of the whole routine. Whilst technically it shouldn’t have a positive or negative effect on execution scores, the reality is that it can have an influence over the judges subconscious. This is especially evident when there is a vocal audience that really gets behind the gymnast and becomes part of the routine.

Music has the ability to invoke a lot of emotion!

The Future of Music in Gymnastics

As gymnastics continues to evolve as a sport, the role of music is likely to become even more important. With advances in technology and new music styles emerging, gymnasts will have more options than ever before for selecting music that enhances their performance and artistic expression.

There’s an in-depth article on future gymnastics trends that I’ve written here.


In conclusion, the role of music in gymnastics is significant and cannot be ignored. Music has the power to enhance performance, aid in training, and create an emotional impact on the audience. Gymnasts should carefully select music that matches their style and personality, and that enhances the artistic quality of their routines. With the right music, gymnasts can achieve their full potential and create memorable performances that leave a lasting impression on the audience.