Dr Sarah Williams

Dr Sarah Williams

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Lecturer in Sport Psychology and Coaching Science

Contact details

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Sarah Williams is an expert in imagery use in sport, exercise, and rehabilitation.


  • PhD in Sport Psychology, University of Birmingham
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Research and Education, University of Birmingham
  • BSc (Hons) in Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham


Sarah is the module lead for the Research Methods and Statistics in Sport and Exercise Sciences module which is delivered on the Sport and Exercise Sciences degree, Sport Physical Education and Coaching Sciences degree, and the Applied Golf Management Studies degree.

Sarah also teaches on various undergraduate and postgraduate psychology related modules and supervises dissertation students usually conducting imagery or stress related research projects.

Postgraduate supervision

Sarah Williams’ research focuses on how imagery can be effectively used in the sport and exercise setting. This includes establishing valid and reliable measures to assess imagery ability and developing techniques to improve imagery’s effectiveness. Dr Williams also combines action observation with imagery use and has more recently started utilising these techniques for rehabilitation. Dr Williams also has an interest in psychological and physiological responses to stress and competition including competitiveness, challenge and threat appraisal, and anxiety.

Dr Williams welcomes enquiries from prospective doctoral researchers in her areas of interest.


Recent publications


Trotman, G, Veldhuijzen van Zanten, J, Davies, J, Moller, C, Ginty, AT & Williams, S 2019, 'Associations between heart rate, perceived heart rate, and anxiety during acute psychological stress', Anxiety, Stress and Coping, vol. 32, no. 6, pp. 711-727. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2019.1648794

Chauntry, A, Williams, S & Whittaker, A 2019, 'Blunted cardiovascular responses to acute psychological stress predict low behavioural but not self-reported perseverance', Psychophysiology, vol. 56, no. 11, e13449. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13449 SFX

Williams, S 2019, 'Comparing movement imagery and action observation as techniques to increase imagery ability', Psychology of Sport and Exercise, vol. 44, pp. 99-106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2019.05.005

Quinton, M, Veldhuijzen van Zanten, J, Trotman, G, Cumming, J & Williams, S 2019, 'Investigating the protective role of mastery imagery ability in buffering debilitative stress responses', Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 10, 1657. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01657

Trotman, G, Williams, S, Quinton, M & Veldhuijzen van Zanten, J 2018, 'Challenge and threat states: examining cardiovascular, cognitive, and affective responses to two distinct laboratory stress tasks', International journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology, vol. 126, pp. 42-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2018.02.004

John-Henderson, N, Williams, S, Brindle, RC & Ginty, AT 2018, 'Changes in sleep quality and levels of psychological distress during the adaptation to university: the role of childhood adversity', British Journal of Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12314

Kosteli, M-C, Williams, S & Cumming, J 2018, 'Exploring imagery as a technique for promoting physical activity in older adults', Imagination, Cognition and Personality. https://doi.org/10.1177/0276236618767083

Trotman, G, Gianaros, P, Veldhuijzen van Zanten, J, Williams, S & Ginty, A 2018, 'Increased stressor-evoked cardiovascular reactivity is associated with reduced amygdala and hippocampus volume', Psychophysiology. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13277

Quinton, M, Cumming, J & Williams, S 2018, 'Investigating the mediating role of positive and negative mastery imagery ability', Psychology of Sport and Exercise, vol. 35, pp. 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2017.10.011

Kosteli, M-C, Cumming, J & Williams, SE 2018, 'Self-Regulatory Imagery and Physical Activity in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A Social-Cognitive Perspective', Journal of aging and physical activity, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 14-24. https://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2016-0024

Kosteli, M-C, Heneghan, N, Roskell, C, Williams, S, Adab, P, Dickens, A, Enocson, A, Fitzmaurice, D, Jolly, C, Jordan, R, Greenfield, S & Cumming, J 2017, 'Barriers and enablers of physical activity engagement for patients with COPD in primary care', International journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, vol. 12, pp. 1019-1031. https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S119806

Williams, S, Veldhuijzen van Zanten, J, Trotman, G, Quinton, M & Ginty, AT 2017, 'Challenge and threat imagery manipulates heart rate and anxiety responses to stress', International journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2017.04.011

Anuar, N, Williams, S & Cumming, J 2017, 'Do the physical and environment PETTLEP elements predict sport imagery ability?', European Journal of Sport Science, vol. 17, no. 10, pp. 1319-1327. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2017.1377290

Weibull, F, Cumming, J, Cooley, S, Williams, S & Burns, V 2017, 'Examining the Feasibility of a Short Intervention for Improving Exercise Imagery Ability', Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, vol. 12, no. 1. https://doi.org/10.1515/jirspa-2016-0008

Williams, S, Carroll, D, Veldhuijzen van Zanten, J & Ginty, AT 2016, 'Anxiety symptom interpretation: A potential mechanism explaining the cardiorespiratory fitness-anxiety relationship', Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 193, pp. 151-156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2015.12.051

View all publications in research portal