Elite Sport

We are working to empower and support athletes, helping them to perform at the very top on their game.

Researchers within the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences work with sports organisations around the globe, helping to ensure elite sportspeople can perform optimally in all conditions. Our research spans resilience and mental strength training, to improving physical strength and supporting moral behaviours in sports.

This research includes (a) promoting the concept of visualisation in sporting success – a factor cited by top international athletes across many different sporting areas; (b) researching how the environmental and social conditions in which athletes perform can be adapted to improve performance; and (c) promoting fair play in sport through innovative doping prevention programmes.

The aims of this research are to optimise performance, promote equality and fair play, and ensure everyone can enjoy the benefits of sports.

Professor Jennifer Cumming’s research focuses on the effective use of imagery by athletes, exercisers and dancers. She works with clubs, organisations, and services in creative ways to develop and evaluate psychological and social interventions for improving performance, personal development, health, and well-being. Currently, Professor Cumming is leading on research projects with One Dance UK with a focus on safeguarding and abuse prevention as well as promoting mental health and well-being in elite dancers.

Dr Ian Boardley specialises in psychological and social processes governing moral behaviour in sports. This includes moral behaviours that occur on the field, as well as those that occur in sport, exercise, and dance. Ian’s research has been supported by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Olympic Committee, the European Union, and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Dr Matt Bridge’s research investigates the development of sporting skill in applied settings and pathways to expertise in sports people. Alongside his academic work, Matt has consulted to the British Olympic Association, the European Tour, Icelandic Golf, and for individuals and teams in a variety of sports including golf, cycling and triathlon.

Dr Barry Drust is an exercise physiologist with a particular interest in intermittent exercise and the sport of football.  He is recognised internationally for his research in the area of football performance and player preparation and his applied experience working within the sport. 

Professor Maria Kavussanu has expertise in promoting fair play in sport. With funding from the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency, she developed innovative doping prevention programmes, pioneering the focus on moral emotions and consequences of doping for others, illustrated with real athlete stories. Her work has influenced international anti-doping organisations, thereby helping to protect elite athletes.


Our research is enabling elite sportspeople to compete optimally, fairly and reach their best potential. We are helping to improve the social and environmental conditions in which someone trains, helping to inspire future generations of sports excellence.

Professor Jennifer Cumming

Professor Jennifer Cumming

Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Meet our researchers

Discover more

  • Quest

    How can anti-doping organisations use morality to influence athletes?

  • Sport participation to performance

    Investigating how to support learners of all ages to engage in meaningful, high quality movement experiences and to improve their performance.