How Does Your Performance Smell? Three Ways To Boost Athleticism With Scent

by Dr. Leo Lafferty-Whyte, special to

Dr. Leo Lafferty-Whyte

Have you ever walked behind someone whose aftershave/perfume made you think of a particular person or place? Ever walked past a flower and instantly been transported back to that family picnic or your own garden? That is the power of scent. Scent is actually physically hot wired into the memory centers of your brain to allow rapid access to memory, the only one of your senses that is, and as such can be a useful tool for improving athletic performance if used correctly.

Before we talk scent specifically though let’s talk about the power of visualization on athletic performance. Simply by visualizing the athletic performance an athlete wants to have regularly in extreme detail has been seen to improve the athletes’ real world performance. These techniques have been a staple of Olympic athlete’s training techniques since 1984 for a reason, they work! (1)

The mind is therefore a tool we can utilize to push through those performance barriers. What if we could use that power coupled with scent to boost performance even further? Interested? Read on.

It has been well established that children who smell a distinctive scent during study (such as rosemary) and then smell the same scent again during an exam on the same topic have significantly better recall. STUDY

We can therefore use this power combined with visualization to further improve your performance. Here’s a few ideas how:

  1. Unsplash (Danielle Cerullo)

    Looking to lift a new PB?

    1. Every time you are visualizing your performing a personal best in preparation for your next lift inhale a few drops of rosemary essential oil from a tissue. This will associate the PB with the scent in your mind. Before attempting the lift make sure to smell the oil again to put you back in that state.

  1. Suffer from performance anxiety or match day nerves?

    1. A mindfulness or meditation practice will help you get a strong control of your emotions and keep you present. When you perform your practice smell some Lavender or YlangYlang essential oil from a tissue. On match day make sure to have a tissue with the same scent. As soon as you feel those jitters starting take 5 deep breaths of the scent to drop you back into that calm from your mindfulness practice.

  1. Want to play like a winner every time?

    1. Associate a particular scent with winning a game by always surrounding yourself with it when you win a match. If you need a boost during a tough game crack out that winning scent to get you in the winner’s mindset again.


  1. Thomas Newmark; Cases in Visualization for Improved Athletic Performance; Psychiatric Annals. 2012;42(10):385-387

Dr. Leo Lafferty-Whyte is an Author, Coach and Personal Trainer who uses his scientific expertise alongside his Life Coaching and Personal Training skills to help people around the world build (and maintain) the lives that they truly desire. To find out more and apply for coaching with Leo see or join the “Triple H” Family at This post was facilitated by

Cover Image: (Unsplash-krystina-rogers)

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Jerry Milani

Jerry Milani is a freelance writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 25 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and now is the PR manager for Wizard World, which runs pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America. Milani is also the play-by-play announcer for Caldwell University football and basketball broadcasts. He is a proud graduate of Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at jerry (at) jerrymilani (dot) com.