Prof Jennifer Cumming CPsychol CSci AFBPsS FHEA

Prof Jennifer Cumming

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Head of Research and Knowledge Transfer and Co-Deputy Head of School
Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Contact details

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

Dr 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

A full list of publications is available on Jennifer’s personal website: www.jennifercumming.com. For reprints of certain papers, please visit: tp://works.bepress.com/jennifer_cumming/.

*Publications where PGR students are the primary author

2019

  1. Cooley, S. J., Quinton, M. L., Holland, M. J. G., Parry, B. J., & Cumming, J. (2019). The Experiences of Homeless Youth when using Strengths Profiling to Identify their Character Strengths. Frontiers in Psychology: Psychology for Clinical Settings. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02036
  2. *Quinton, M. L., van Zanten, J. V., Trotman, G. P., Cumming, J., & Williams, S. E. (2019).  Investigating the protective role of mastery imagery ability in buffering debilitative stress responses. Frontiers in Psychology - Movement Science and Sport Psychology (Special Topic “Adaptation to Psychological Stress in Sport”).  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01657
  3. *Kosteli, M. Williams, S. E., & Cumming, J. (2019).  Exploring imagery as a technique for promoting physical activity in older adults.  Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 38, 405-424. https://doi.org/10.1177/0276236618767083

 

2018

  1. *Anuar, N., Williams, S. E., & Cumming, J. (2018). Comparing PETTLEP imagery against observation imagery on vividness and ease of movement imagery. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 16, 150-163. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2016.1177104
  2. Cooley, S. J., Eves, F. F., Cumming, J., & Burns, V. E. (in press). “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
  3. Cumming, J., & Anderson, G. M. (2018). Guided imagery. In Gellman, M. D. (Ed), Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_1341-2  ISBN = 978-1-4614-6439_6.
  4. Cumming, J., & Cooley, S. (2018).  Mental health and the homeless: summary of MST4Life. In J. Stewart & Z. Lynch (Eds), Environment Health and Housing: Issues for Public Health (pp. 32-33). Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge.
  5. Cumming, J., Skeate, A., & Templeton, J. (2018). Psychologically informed environment: enhancing St Basils’ homeless services for young people.  In J. Stewart & Z. Lynch (Eds), Environment Health and Housing: Issues for Public Health (pp. 31-32). Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge.
  6. Cumming, J. & Eaves, D. L. (2018). The nature, measurement, and development of imagery ability.  Imagination, Cognition and Personality.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0276236617752439
  7. Cumming, J., Weibuill, F., & Newell, E. (2018). Golfer’s imagery use.  In M. R. Toms (Ed), The Routledge International Handbook of Golf Science.  Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge.
  8. Holland, M. J. G., Cooley, S. J., & Cumming, J. (2018). Identifying, measuring, and facilitating psychological skill development.  In C. Knight, C. Harwood, & D. Gould (Eds.), Sport Psychology for Young Athletes (p. 43-54).  Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge.
  9. *Kosteli, M., Cumming, J., & Williams, S. E. (2018). Self-Regulatory Imagery and Physical Activity in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A Social-Cognitive Perspective. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 26, 14-24.  https://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2016-0024 
  10. *Quinton, M. L., Cumming, J., & Williams, S. E. (2018). Investigating the mediating role of positive and negative mastery imagery ability. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 35, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2017.10.011
  11. *Quinton, M., Cumming, J.,  Allsop, J., Gray, R., & Williams, S. E. (2018).  Imagery meaning and content in golf: effects on performance, anxiety, and confidence. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 16, 382-397. doi: 10.1080/1612197X.2016.1242150

2017

  1. *Anuar, N., Williams, S. E., & Cumming, J. (2017).  Do the Physical and Environment PETTLEP Elements Predict Sport Imagery Ability? European Journal of Sports Science, 17, 1319-1327. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2017.1377290
  2. Burns, V., Cumming, J., Cooley, S., Holland, M., & Beech, N. (2017). “Skills don’t transfer themselves: Translating training courses into lasting behaviour change.  Education in Practice, 3, 8-12.
  3. Cumming, J., Cooley, S. J., Anuar, N., Kosteli, M., Quinton, M. L., Weibull, F., & Williams, S. E. (2017).  Developing Imagery Ability Effectively: A Guide to Layered Stimulus Response Training.  Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 8, 22-33. doi: 0.1080/21520704.2016.1205698
  4. * Kosteli, M., Heneghan, N., Roskell, C., Williams, S. E., Adab, P., Dickens, A. P., Enocson, A., Fitzmaurice, D., Jolly, K., Jordan, R., Greenfield, S., & Cumming, J. (2017). Barriers and enablers of physical activity engagement for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in primary care.  International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, 12, 1019-1031.
  5. *Noordali, F., Cumming, J., & Thompson, J. L. (2017). Effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions on physiological and psychological complications in adults with diabetes: A systematic review.  Journal of Health Psychology, 22, 965-983. doi: 10.1177/1359105315620293

2013

Cooley, S. J., Holland, M. J. G., Cumming, J., Novakovic, E. G., Burns, V. E. (2013). Introducing the use of a semi-structured video diary room to investigate students' learning experiences during an outdoor adventure education groupwork skills course. Higher Education. doi:10.1007/s10734-013-9645-5

Cooley, S. J., Williams, S. E., Burns, V. E., & Cumming, J. (2013). Methodological variations in guided imagery interventions using movement imagery scripts in sport: A systematic review. Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 8, 1-22. doi:10.1515/jirspa-2012-0005

Cumming, J. (2013). Two issues in educational research: A response to “Reviewing Education Concerns”. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, 13, 1-4.

Cumming, J., & Anderson, G. M. (2013). Guided imagery. In Gellman, M. D. & Turner, J. R. Eds), Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine (p. 881-883). New York: Springer. ISBN = 978-1-4419-1005-9_1341.

Cumming, J., & Williams, S. E. (2013). Introducing the revised applied model of deliberate imagery use for sport, dance, exercise, and rehabilitation. Movement & Sport Sciences - Science & Motricité, 82, 69-81.

Long, J., & Cumming, J. (2013). Psychosocial predictors. In Gellman, M. D. & Turner, J. R. (Eds), Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine (p. 1584-1585). New York: Springer. ISBN = 978-1-4419-1005-9_1341.

Long, J., & Cumming, J. (2013). Psychosocial variables. In Gellman, M. D. & Turner, J. R. (Eds), Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine (p. 1585-1587). New York: Springer. ISBN = 978-1-4419-1005-9_1341.

Sharp, L., Holland, M. J. G., Woodcock, C., Cumming, J., & Duda, J. L. (2013) A qualitative evaluation of a mental skills training program with youth athletes. The Sport Psychologist, 27, 219-232.

Smeeton, N.J., Hibbert, J. Stevenson, K., Cumming, J., & Williams, A.M. (2013). Can imagery facilitate improvements in anticipation behavior? Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14, 200-210.

Williams, S. E., Cooley, S. J., & Cumming, J. (2013). Layered stimulus response training improves motor imagery ability and movement execution. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 35, 60-71.

Williams, S. E.,, Cooley, S. J., Newell, E., Weibull, F., & Cumming, J. (2013). Seeing the difference: Advice for developing effective imagery scripts for athletes. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 4, 109-121.

2012

Cumming, J., & Duda, J. L. (2012). Profiles of perfectionism, body-related concerns, and indicators of psychological health in vocational dance students: An investigation of the 2 x 2 model of perfectionism. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 729-738. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2012.05.004

Cumming, J., & Williams, S. E. (2012). The role of imagery in performance. In S. Murphy (Ed), Handbook of Sport and Performance Psychology (p. 213-232). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Stanley, D. M., Cumming, J., Standage, M., & Duda, J. L. (2012). Images of exercising: Exploring the imagery use and cognitions of exercisers from a self-determination perspective. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 133-141.

Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., Cumming, J., Ntoumanis, N., & Nikitaras, N. (2012). Exercise imagery and its correlates in older adults. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 19-25.

Williams. S. E., & Cumming, J. (2012a). Athletes’ ease of imaging predicts their imagery and observational learning use. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 362-370.

Williams, S. E., & Cumming, J. (2012b). Challenge vs. threat imagery: Investigating the effect of using imagery to manipulate cognitive appraisal of a dart throwing task. Sport and Exercise Psychology Review, 8, 4-21.

Williams, S. E., & Cumming, J. (2012c). Sport imagery ability predicts trait confidence, and challenge and threat appraisal tendencies. European Journal of Sport Science, 12, 499-508.

Williams, S. E., Cumming, J., Ntoumanis, N., Nordin-Bates, S. M., Ramsey, R., & Hall, C. (2012). Further validation and development of the Movement Imagery Questionnaire. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 34, 621-646.

Woodcock, C., Duda, J. L., Cumming, J., Sharp, L., & Holland, M. J. G. (2012). Assessing Mental Skill Use in Applied Interventions: Recognizing and Minimizing Threats to the Psychometric Properties of the TOPS. The Sport Psychologist, 26, 1-15.

Woodcock, C., Sharp, L., Cumming, J., & Duda, J. L. (2012). Working within an Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning Framework: Moments of praxis. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 291-302.

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