The impact of cognitive functions and intellectual impairment on pacing and performance in sports

Kandianos Emmanouil Sakalidis, Jan Burns, Debbie Van Biesen, Waleed Dreegia, Florentina Johanna Hettinga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


An essential determinant for success in sports is pacing. Cognitive mechanisms like self-regulation and executive functions are strongly related to adequate pacing behaviour, and people with Intellectual Impairment (II) experience shortfalls in those skills. Previous literature in children without II revealed that pacing is at least partly dependent on cognitive development. Research that focuses on pacing abilities of individuals with II strengthens the assumption that intellectual functioning is involved in pacing, as elite athletes with II are not able to maintain a pre-planned submaximal velocity and they regulate their exercise intensity differently compared to athletes without II. This review highlights the role of cognition and adaptive behaviour in pacing and provides insight into the impact of II on pacing behaviour. It is also proposing pacing as a significant component of Paralympics’ evidence-based classification for athletes with II. Finally, we propose future directions for research to uncover the impact of cognitive mechanisms on regulation of exercise intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101840
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date21 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


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