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Book review: Pacing by Kevin G. Thompson

Pacing: Individual Strategies for Optimal Performance examines the science, strategies and application of pacing in sports.

Book review: Pacing by Kevin G. Thompson

We’ve all heard the advice “Pace yourself. Save energy and finish strong.” It sounds simple enough, so why is it so hard? Why do even supremely conditioned elite athletes mismanage their energy supplies and fail to finish strong? Pacing: Individual Strategies for Optimal Performance examines the latest science, research and application in search of answers.

This book explores the role of pacing in sports, the most common strategies used, the factors that influence effectiveness and key considerations for today’s athletes and coaches. The book also covers these aspects:

How environmental variables, such as temperature and terrain, can affect performance

How to choose the best pacing strategy for any event

How to use pacing to defeat an opponent

The role the brain plays in pacing strategies

Part I explains the biological and psychological foundations behind the science of pacing, including the six commonly used pacing strategies that are discussed in detail throughout the book: all-out, positive, even, negative, parabolic and variable. Part II shows how to apply the science by offering pacing recommendations and considerations for time-dependent sports such as running, triathlon and swimming and exploring the role of pacing in racket sports and several team sports.

Combining scientific research and real-world profiles of elite athletes and coaches, Pacing: Individual Strategies for Optimal Performance shows coaches and athletes how to develop the ideal pacing plan for every competition.

Whether it’s a runner who starts the race too fast, a cyclist battling a strong headwind or a tennis player taking extra recovery time during a court changeover, athletes and their coaches agree on one thing: understanding and practicing a pacing strategy can make the difference between winning and losing, or even finishing, an event.

Thompson’s book features cutting-edge strategies to achieve peak performance. While the adage of “slow and steady wins the race” may hold true for some, the best strategy according to Thompson is one that athletes develop to ensure they never work at too high a level so that they tire too quickly or at too low a level so that they fail to reach their potential.

Kevin Thompson, a professor at the University of Canberra in Australia, is the Director of the UC Research Institute for Sport and Exercise and teaches various aspects of sport physiology. His research focuses on the development, evaluation and application of sport and exercise science to help coaching practice and sports science achieve an optimal, efficient performance. He is a member of the AIS High Performance Sport Research Advisory Panel and former Chair of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

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