Contemporary Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Investigating the Cognitive Aspects of Sports Performance: An Analysis of Foreign Research



The article examines foreign modern theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of cognitive aspects of sports performance. A classification of approaches is presented, based on the type of tasks, the phenomenon under consideration, and the explanation of the cognitive differences between athletes and the control group. Expert performance approach, cognitive component skill approach, and ecological dynamic approach are discussed, including their theoretical foundations, key results, and employed paradigms. The expert performance approach assesses perceptual-cognitive abilities utilizing context-specific stimuli derived from photographs or videos of sporting scenarios. This approach underscores the significance of domain-specific knowledge and practical experience in achieving a high level of proficiency in sports. The cognitive component skill approach delves into the fundamental cognitive mechanisms underpinning sporting expertise by employing cognitive paradigms in laboratory settings. The ecological dynamics perspective posits that a crucial cognitive skill for athletes is the ability to perceive affordances, defined as opportunities for action determined by environmental constraints, and to effectively translate perceived affordances into motor execution. The article discusses the advantages and limitations of each approach and provides criteria to guide the development of research concepts and sports testing methods.

General Information

Keywords: sport, sports performance, sport psychology, cognitive functions, expert performance, ecological psychology

Journal rubric: Neurosciences and Cognitive Studies

Article type: review article


Funding. Supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, (Agreement 075-10-2021-093, Project ISR-RND-2252).

Received: 31.01.2024


For citation: Tcepelevich M.M., Bolshakov V.V. Contemporary Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Investigating the Cognitive Aspects of Sports Performance: An Analysis of Foreign Research [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2024. Vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 101–108. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2024130109. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Margarita M. Tcepelevich, PhD Student, Junior Researcher, Sirius University of Science and Technology, Federal territory "Sirius", Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Viktor V. Bolshakov, PhD in Physics and Matematics, Senior Researcher, Sirius University of Science and Technology, Federal territory "Sirius", Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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