The Role of the Social Environment in Pacing and Sports Performance: A Narrative Review from a Self-Regulatory Perspective

Kandianos Emmanouil Sakalidis, Stein Gerrit Paul Menting, Marije Titia Elferink-Gemser, Florentina Johanna Hettinga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


As proposed by Triplett in 1898 and evidenced by a recent series of lab and field studies, racing against other competitors consistently results in increased performance compared to when racing alone. To explain this phenomenon, we will explore the process of self-regulation, a process relevant to pacing, which is linked to athletes’ emotions and facilitates their sports performance optimization. We will apply the cyclical model of Self-regulation of Learning to pacing and sports performance settings and explore the role of the social environment (in particular, opponents but also coaches) in each phase of the self-regulatory model. It seems that the social environment could be considered as a significant self-regulatory and sports performance facilitator. More specifically, athletes can focus on their social environment (opponents) when they have to set goals and select appropriate strategies to achieve them (forethought phase), monitor and manage their actions and their emotions (performance phase), and make self-judgements and choose self-reactions (self-reflection). Moreover, the social environment (coaches) can observe, step in, and facilitate these intricate processes. These findings could guide athletes and their coaches towards more effective pacing acquisition and development, and better sports performance, which could be of particular relevance for youth athletes or athletes with disabilities impacting on their self-regulatory skills.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16131
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2022


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