Nov 22, 2022

Pressure Proof with Daniel Stewart: Athletic Anthems

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Last month we began a conversation built on the idea that success is often related to building a strong brand. For example, if you’re familiar with the Starbucks brand and logo there’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up in one of their stores one of these days! Athletes, like companies, also function by building brands, meaning your success may be closely tied to whatever brand you decide to define yourself by.

In my last Pressure Proof tip I introduced you to the first step towards building your athletic brand: the creation of an athletic acronym, a five or fewer letter acronym that reminds you how to behave. The word BLAST is a good example of an athletic acronym because it reminds you to Breathe Laugh and Smile Today. This month, we’re going to add another tool to your mental tool belt called an athletic anthem. When struggling to find your way out of a bad mood (insert fears, frustration, disappointment, and doubt here) it would be great to find a quick and easy trick… and that’s where athletic anthems come in.

You already know that music can calm you down, pump you up, and put you in a good mood… but did you know there’s also a special kind of music that helps increase your optimism and self-belief while decreasing your fears and doubts? That unique kind of music is called an athletic anthem and the key to its power is that its lyrics contain positive-affirmation sentences... messages that remind you to never quit, stay positive, and continue believing in yourself.

“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus is a good example of an athletic anthem. While the song itself might calm you down, pump you up or put you in a good mood, its lyrics contain an important message well worth remembering when feeling fearful or doubtful: "There’s always going to be another mountain. I’m always going to want to make it move. Sometimes I’m going to lose, but I’ll be strong, I’ll keep pushing on.” When a song delivers an empowering message like this, it becomes more than music… it becomes an anthem!

A common experience when listening to music is that songs often have a weird way of getting stuck in your head, and that’s exactly what you’re hoping for! After all, what could be better than getting good thoughts stuck in your head at times when you’re feeling bad?

The first step to building a playlist of athletic anthems is to take a look into your current playlists to see if any of your favorites are already athletic anthems. You can do this by performing an online search of your favorites to see if any have positive messages hidden in their lyrics. If so, add those songs to your new pre-ride playlist and get ready to overcome the kind of things that previously overwhelmed you! You can even create several playlists, like one for the night before a big event (calming so you rest well) and another to listen to upon arrival at the showgrounds (upbeat and motivational).

Here are ten good examples of athletic anthems:

  1. "Have it All" by Jason Mraz
  2. "Love Myself" by Hailee Steinfeld
  3. "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift
  4. "Pompeii" by Bastille
  5. "Confident" by Demi Lovato
  6. "Fight Song," by Rachel Platten
  7. "Brave" by Sara Bareilles
  8. "Try" by Pink
  9. "Ain’t Nothing Going to Break My Stride" by Mathew Wilder
  10. "Cowgirls Don’t Cry" by Brooks and Dunn

There’s just one rule when it comes to athletic anthems (music in general) and riding: they’re only to be used before mounting. Our sport requires you to be safe and hyper-aware while mounted so be sure to leave your earbuds in the tack room!

I hope you enjoyed this month’s tip and that I’ll get the chance to teach you in one of my upcoming fall or winter clinics around the county. For more information on my clinics, or hosting one, please visit

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