Professor Jennifer Cumming CPsychol CSci AFBPsS FHEA

Professor Jennifer Cumming

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Contact details

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

Professor Jennifer Cumming is a community-based researcher with expertise in sport and exercise psychology.  She works collaboratively with clubs, organisations, and services in innovative and creative ways to develop and/or evaluate psychosocial interventions for improving performance, personal development, health, and well-being. 

Feedback and office hours

Tuesday 2:00-4:00 PM or by appointment

Qualifications

Ph.D. (Kinesiology, with an emphasis on Sport Psychology). University of Western Ontario, London Canada, 2002.

M.A. (Sport Studies). University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada, 1998.

B.Ed. (Physical Education; Specialization in Fitness Education). McGill University, Montreal, Canada, 1996.

Biography

Dr Jennifer Cumming is a Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology from the University of Birmingham (UK) and a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. 

Jennifer’s current research focuses on community-based approaches to developing practical and culturally-tailored interventions for athletes and, more recently, individuals who are traditionally considered ‘harder to reach’.  She is interested in how individuals learn to effectively regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours with mental skills training, and determine the impact of self-regulation (or dysregulation) on performance, health, and well-being.  Whereas sport psychology customarily focuses on mental skills as a regulatory capacity that athletes use in competitive and non-competitive situations, she more broadly uses this knowledge to support social inclusion, mental health, and health-related quality of life in communities that are more challenging to engage, such as homeless adolescents or care leavers. 

Since 2013, Jennifer has worked with St Basils, a West Midlands-based Housing Service, to co-design and deliver the first sport psychology informed intervention for young people experiencing homelessness or at risk.  My Strengths For Life™ (MST4Life™) is a strengths-based programme designed to address the emotional and psychological issues of homeless young people whilst simultaneously recognising their great resilience and strengths.

Jennifer’s earlier research focused on the mental technique of imagery through the development of theoretical models for use in research and applied settings, such as the revised applied model of deliberate imagery use, and by determining ways to effectively develop and measure imagery use and ability in sport, exercise, and dance.  This work has led to improved measurement of imagery processes and ways to increase the credibility of imagery interventions by establishing appropriate screening measures and manipulation checks.  She was the Guest Editor of a Special Issue on Imagery Ability for Imagination, Cognition and Personality and is a Founding Member of the Research in Imagery and Observation (RIO) Group. 

She was nominated for the University of Birmingham’s Founders’ Award for Excellence in Policy Advancement in 2015 and Enterprising Birmingham’s Most Innovative Collaboration award in 2017.  She has received funding from the ESRC, St Basils, Public Health England, and other sources.  Her work has been recognised as good practice by Public Health England and is being used to inform interventions for preventing and reducing homelessness in the UK.  She has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed papers or book contributions and has given key note addresses and workshops from esteemed societies including BACP, BASES, FEPSAC and DSEP. 

Teaching

Dr Jennifer Cumming is the module lead for Sport and Mental Health.  She also supervises undergraduate students undertaking their final year project.

Jennifer is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education in 2010 and received high commendations for her research project that was also published in Vol. 9 of the Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education. In 2012, Jennifer was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award for both the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences and the College of Life Environmental Sciences. 

In collaboration with Dr Victoria Burns, Jennifer has received educational enhancement funds from the Higher Education Academy, University Sport Birmingham, and the University’s Centre of Learning and Academic Development (CLAD) for teaching-related research into the transfer of teamwork skills learnt in outdoor pursuits settings (i.e., the University’s Raymond Priestley Centre) to academia.

This research formed part of the Birmingham Evaluating Skill Transfer (BEST) project (2010-2014) that was nominated in 2013 for a University of Birmingham, Hospitality and Accommodation Services (HAS) OSCAR for the Support of the Year Award. It also led to the development of the Groupwork Skills Questionnaire (GSQ; Cumming, Woodcock, Cooley, Holland, & Burns, 2015) measure task and interpersonal groupwork skills as well as a semi-structured diary room method for collecting qualitative data (Cooley, Holland, Cumming, Novakovic, & Burns, 2014).   

Postgraduate supervision

Nominated for the University of Birmingham’s Good Supervisor Award in 2010, Jennifer has supervised 17 PGR students to completion since 2002 (14 PhD, 2 MREs, and 1 MPhil).

Recent graduates include Dr Mary who is a Research Fellows and Operations Manager of the My Strengths Training for Life™ project with St Basils.  Dr Sam Cooley won the Doctoral Researcher Development Award (First Prize) in 2013 to attend two conferences in New Zealand and is now a Trainee Clinical Psychologist. Dr Maria-Christina Kosteli is now a Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity and Physical Education Psychology at Edge Hill University.  Dr Mark Holland is a Senior Lecturer at Newman University.  As a PhD student, he received the Michael K. O’Rourke PhD Publication Award for his 2010 publication featured in a Special Issue on Youth Sports for the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology entitled, “Mental qualities and employed mental techniques of young elite team sport athletes”. Another former student, Dr Sarah Williams, now a lecturer in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, was named as the winner of the Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology's Outstanding PhD Thesis for 2011 (British Psychological Society) for her work on "Athlete Imagery Ability and Effective Imagery Use".

Jennifer welcomes applications from competitive and/or self-funding UK, European, and overseas students for projects related to her research interests (PhD or Masters by Research).  Students who are considering applying to the University of Birmingham to work with Jennifer should contact her by email in advance or check for advertised projects on www.findaphd.com

Research

  • Imagery and observational learning in sport, exercise, and dance
  • Mental skills training
  • Sport performance issues (competitive anxiety, motivation, perfectionism)

Jennifer’s research mainly focuses on the effective use of imagery by athletes, exercisers and dancers. She has published this work in several leading journals in the field, has served as a section editor for the European Journal of Sport Sciences and now sits on the editorial board of The Sport Psychologist and the Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity. Her research has been funded by charities and organisations, including AASP, Aston Villa Football Club, the British Academy, St Basils, and the Winning Scotland Foundation. 

In 2012, Jennifer delivered a keynote address and a skills workshop on this research at the 40th British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) Annual Conference at the University of Leeds. She recently served as Chair of the Sport and Exercise Psychology of the 2013 NASPSPA conference program. 

Within the School, Jennifer collaborates mainly with Dr Victoria Burns and Dr Sarah Williams, as well as other colleagues from the Sport Psychology Research Group (Prof Joan Duda, Dr Cecilie Thogersen-Ntoumani, and Dr Nikos Ntoumanis). For example, she recently concluded a project in collaboration with Prof Joan Duda to develop, implement, and evaluate a mental skills training program for youth team sport athletes. 

At the national level, Jennifer is involved with the Research in Imagery and Observation (RIO) group. She also has on-going collaborations with her mentor and former supervisors, Prof Craig Hall (University of Western Ontario, Canada) and Prof Diane Ste-Marie (University of Ottawa, Canada). 

Other activities

Publications

Recent publications

Article

Quinton, M, Clarke, FJ, Parry, B & Cumming, J 2021, 'An evaluation of My Strengths Training for Life™ for improving resilience and well‐being of young people experiencing homelessness', Journal of Community Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.22517

Bird, G, Quinton, M & Cumming, J 2021, 'Promoting athlete mental health: the role of emotion regulation', Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1123/jcsp.2021-0022

Parry, B, Holland, M, Thompson, J & Cumming, J 2021, 'Promoting personal growth in young people experiencing homelessness through an outdoors-based program', Journal of Youth Development, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 157-192. https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2021.1061

Parry, B, Quinton, M, Mark J. G., H, Thompson, J & Cumming, J 2020, 'Improving Outcomes in Young People Experiencing Homelessness with My Strengths Training for Life™ (MST4Life™): A Qualitative Realist Evaluation', Children and Youth Services Review.

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

Cooley, S, Quinton, M, Mark J. G., H, Parry, B & Cumming, J 2019, 'The experiences of homeless youth when using strengths profiling to identify their character strengths', Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 10, 2036. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02036

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

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

Cooley, S, Eves, F, Cumming, J & Burns, V 2018, '“Hitting the Ground Running”: Preparing Groups for Outdoor Learning using a Theoretically-Based Video', Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning. https://doi.org/10.1080/14729679.2018.1558081

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

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

Noordali, F, Cumming, J & Thompson, JL 2017, 'Effectiveness of Mindfulness-based interventions on physiological and psychological complications in adults with diabetes: A systematic review', Journal of Health Psychology, vol. 22, no. 8, pp. 965-983. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105315620293

Preprint

Brown, KR, Quinton, ML & Cumming, J 2022 'Athletes’ access to, attitudes towards, and experiences of help-seeking for mental health: A scoping review protocol' medRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.02.18.22271182

Review article

Heinze, K, Cumming, J, Dosanjh, A, Palin, S, Poulton, S, Bagshaw, AP & Broome, MR 2021, 'Neurobiological evidence of longer-term physical activity interventions on mental health outcomes and cognition in young people: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials', Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, vol. 120, pp. 431-441. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.10.014

View all publications in research portal

Expertise

Imagery and other mental skills in sport, exercise and dance; applied sport psychology working with elite athletes and community members

Languages and other information

Jennifer is a chartered sport and exercise psychologist who works with developing and elite athletes and dancers in the West Midlands.

Expertise

positive youth development (physical activity/sport/non-sport); mental skills/life skills; strengths-based approaches; disadvantaged young people (homeless young people/care leavers/young offenders/young parents); mental health and well-being