Micklewright, D., Angus, C., Suddaby, J., St Clair Gibson, A., Sandercock, G., & Chinnasamy, C. (2012). Pacing strategy in schoolchildren differs with age and cognitive development. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 44, 362-369.

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This study examined differences in pacing strategy between schoolchildren of different ages, gender, and stages of cognitive development. Ss (N = 106) from four age groups (56, 89, 1112, and 14 years) completed four conservation tasks to evaluate the Piagetian stage of cognitive development. Every S then performed a best-effort running task on a 150-m running track that was video recorded to analyze pace at 5% increments. The length of the run varied for each age group to ensure that all Ss were running for approximately 4 minutes (56 years = 450 m, 89 years = 600 m, 1112 years = 750 m, and 14 years = 900 m).

Pacing strategies differed between Ss of different ages, gender, and cognitive development. Pacing differences were also found between age groups after controlling for cognitive development, between cognitive abilities after controlling for age, and between genders after controlling for both age and cognitive ability.

Implication. Younger children with less advanced cognitive development exhibited a negative pacing strategy indicating an inability to anticipate exercise demand. Older children at a more advanced stage of cognitive development exhibited a more conservative U-shaped pacing strategy characterized by faster running speeds during the first 15% and last 20% of the run. Anticipatory pacing strategy seems to be related to both the age and cognitive development of schoolchildren.

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