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Intentionally underperforming on a baseline computerized neurocognitive test - or "sandbagging" - is much harder than an athlete may think, two recent studies say (1,2). 

Trying to prevent intentional sandbagging is incredibly difficult for test administrators (not to mention parents). This is one reason that the online version of the ImPACT neurocognitive test is programmed to automatically flag test protocols that seem suspicious. (2) A 2012 study (1) showed that, while it is possible for athletes to "sandbag" their baseline neuropsychological testing without reaching threshold on "red flags" or validity indicators, only 11% were able to do so successfully,

A 2013 study (2) confirmed that intentionallly underperforming on baseline testing using ImPACT is extremely difficult to achieve without detection. Using built-in validity indicators in ImPACT, 70% of those told to malinger without guidance, and 65% of coached malingerers were detected. Using the forced-choice validity measure with the Word Memory portion of ImPACT, 95% of naїve malingers and 100% of coached malingers were detected. The results of the two studies suggest that inspection of baseline test results will identify 70% to 90% of athletes attempting to sandbag their baselines.

 some athletes might be inclined to intentionally underperform on a baseline computerized neurocognitive test - "sandbag" the test, in the parlance - so that if they suffer a concussion and are then asked to take a post-concussion test, they would perform comparatively better and therefore be allowed to return to play sooner.




1. Erdal K. Neuropsychological Testing for Sports-related Concussion: How Athletes Can Sandbag Their Baseline Testing Without Detection. Arch Clin Psych 2012;27(5):473-479.

2. Schatz P, Glatts C. "Sandbagging" Baseline Test Performance on ImPACT, Without Detection, Is More Difficult than It Appears. Arch Clin Neuropsychol (published online ahead of print February 11, 2013)