Game play

Psychology and Development Research Group

Promoting positive change in identity, performance and wellbeing

We work with all people interested in sport, physical activity, and physical education including:

  • Olympic and Paralympic athletes and UK institutes of sport
  • Professional and competitive sports teams
  • Community sports and physical activity groups 
  • School and higher education institutions
  • Disabled and non-disabled athletes
  • Organisations supporting coaches, athletes, teachers, and professionals in the sports industry

Our vision is to be internationally recognised as leaders in generating and applying sociological and psychological knowledge in sport, physical activity, and physical education from grassroots to elite – as well as how this empowers the development of all people involved.

Our expertise

Our staff members are world-leading experts in innovative qualitative and quantitative research methods. We publish our work in peer reviewed journals and present at international conferences and national policy forums. Our research findings impact policy and practice in applied settings. Our main areas of expertise cover:

  • Study of the daily existence of athletes, physical activity participants, coaches and support staff and how they understand themselves and others within their environments using a wide range of cutting edge, multidisciplinary scientific approaches
  • Being able to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions promoting positive changes to player, physical activity participants, coach, support staff and sport science practitioner identity, performance and wellbeing, both during and after their sport-related careers
  • Exploring how the sport and physical activity culture informs effective coaching, teaching, sport science, and sport psychology service delivery and how people working in this context can be developed within their professional training
  • Critically exploring the conditions that constrain and various marginalised groups, such as disabled sports participants


Staff members have extensive networks with numerous national and international elite and professional sporting organisations, International and national Para sport agencies, local authorities, NHS and community organisations, schools, and professional bodies, providing our students with research and placement opportunities. Examples include professional UK and European professional football, cricket, and rugby teams, The Horseracing industry, Olympic sports, and UK institutes of sport. Our work and collaborations have led to successful research tenders, commissioned projects and international conference organisation.


Search through our selected publications:

Search for a research paper

21 papers found

  • Journal article

    Enskilment: an Ecological-Anthropological Worldview of Skill, Learning and Education in Sport

    Woods CT, Rudd J and Gray R and Davids K

    Publish date:01/12/2021

  • Journal article

    An ecological dynamics conceptualisation of physical ‘education’: Where we have been and where we could go next

    Rudd J, Woods C, Correia V and Seifert L and Davids K

    Publish date:01/05/2021

  • Journal article

    Physical Activity and the Menstrual Cycle: A Mixed-Methods Study of Women’s Experiences

    Kolić PV, Sims DT, Hicks K and Thomas L and Morse CI

    Publish date:01/04/2021

  • Journal article

    Selected, Deselected, and Reselected: A Case Study Analysis of Attributes Associated With Player Reselection Following Closure of a Youth Soccer Academy.

    Dugdale JH and McRobert AP and Unnithan VB

    Publish date:23/03/2021

  • Journal article

    “Do what you can with a happy heart”: a longitudinal study of patient and family members’ lived experiences of physical activity post-myocardial infarction

    Birtwistle SB, Jones I, Murphy R and Gee I and Watson PM

    Publish date:01/03/2021

  • Journal article

    Comparing the efficacy (RCT) of learning a dance choreography and practicing creative dance on improving executive functions and motor competence in 6–7 years old children

    Rudd J, Buszard T, Spittle S and O'Callaghan L and Oppici L

    Publish date:01/03/2021


Meet the people working within this research group.