Dr Martin Toms

Dr Martin R. Toms

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching

Contact details

+44 (0) 121 415 8392
Telephone (2)
+44 (0) 121 415 8285
+44 (0) 121 414 4848
School of Sport and Exercise Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Martin Toms is a senior lecturer in Sports Coaching in the School of Sport & Exercise Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences. 

Martin has been involved in sport coaching and development for a number of years, and has experience of teaching in schools, as well as coaching (Professionally) prior to undertaking posts at University. He has researched, presented and published in the area of the sports experiences of young people, and talent and participant development. Martin is a sports ethnographer, with experience in educational, coaching and club settings.

As well as working on an European and International scale with sports organisations, Martin has maintained his links with grass roots sports clubs in the UK as well. As well as playing, officiating and coaching, Martin is also a member of the Executive Committee of Herefordshire Sport (www.herefordshiresport.co.uk), and is 'paying forward' for his experiences as an young sportsman.


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2007
  • PhD in Sports Science (Developmental Socialisation of Grass Roots Youth Sport), Loughborough University, 2005
  • Cert Ed in Post Curricular Education, Plymouth University, 2000
  • MPhil in Sports Science (The Sports Experiences of School Children), Brighton University, 1996
  • BA (Hons) in Sports Studies and English Literature, Surrey University, 1993


Following his appointment in 2000, Martin established and set up the Applied Golf Management Studies degree course in partnership with the PGA and also helped develop the PGA’s Foundation Degree in Professional Golf. He was also involved in setting up the MPhil programme in Sports Coaching and now currently the MSc in Sports Coaching, again in partnership with the PGA. He is currently working on collaborative projects involving the PGA across the world, and with the Football Association (amongst others) on developing and AGMS style model to further help professionalise coaching.

Martin is a trained QAA Subject Reviewer (Sport & Leisure); an External Examiner (UHI) and a member of the SportsCoachUK Higher Education Advisory Group. He has examined Masters and Doctoral theses around the UK, and has also advised and been on validation panels for programme developments at Universities in the UK and abroad, and regularly presents at National and International conferences.

Martin is currently involved in sport at European levels (as co-editor of the "European Journal for Sport & Society" and on the Europe-wide Golfstand project), as well as International level as (a board member of the "World Scientific Congress of Golf").

As a coach Martin has spent time with Club, County and Regional junior cricket squads (his main focus of study being grass roots participation and development). As a player he had a wide and long “sampling” experience of sports (athletics, cricket, golf, rugby and soccer) at various levels, before “investing” in cricket until injury curtailed his participation in 2010 (he is now trying to swap his most recent batting average for his golf handicap!).  In 2010 Martin was one of four finalists from across the University in the University’s inaugural “Founders’ Awards”. He was proposed by the College of Social Sciences for “The Josiah Mason Award for Business Advancement”. The awards recognise the very best academic work in the university which has significantly contributed to the advancement of the University’s reputation both nationally and internationally.

The commendation reads as follows:

Dr Martin Toms has been responsible for leading and developing an innovative and world-leading partnership with the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) in the development of golf coaches. It has brought the University an income of £2.2 million since the inception of the programme in 2002. The BA (Hons) Applied Golf Management Studies (AGMS) degree programme has been identified as an exemplar programme in its multi-disciplinary approach to sports coaching and the relationship is well recognised nationally and internationally. The partnership has linked business with the PGA in very successful ways and has allowed the development of a postgraduate award that is intended to be a requirement for coaches in their career progression. The relationship is highly significant not only for the golf industry in the UK and Internationally, but it is also leading the professionalisation of the entire coaching industry. This kudos, partnership and business arrangement is what makes this such an innovative and world-leading enterprise.

The European White Paper for sport cites the partnership between the PGA and the University in the development of professional coaching qualifications in golf, highlighting the national profile that the partnership and degree have gained” 


Martin is a senior member of the teaching team within the School and was the Joint Director of Education for the School of Education from 2007 until 2011. He has held teaching and learning related roles at School, College and University level. Currently he continues to manage and run the AGMS degree, as well as being the University Programme Manager for the PGA’s Foundation Degree programme. He is also involved in managing the AdCert/PGDip/MSc programmes in sports coaching, and developing relationships with NGB’s and Universities across the world (most recently in China).

Martin’s main teaching revolves around modules including qualitative research methods (especially sports ethnography), and the sociology of coaching and talent development. Martin also teaches modules on the Sport, PE and Coaching Science (SPECS) degree and the AdCert/PGDip/MSc in Sports Coaching.

Teaching Programmes:

  • BSc (Hons) - Applied Golf Management Studies
  • BSc (Hons) - Sport and Exercise Sciences
  • BSc (Hons) - Sport, Physical Education and Coaching Science
  • Ad Cert - Golf Coaching
  • PGDip/MSc – Sports Coaching

Postgraduate supervision

As well as a number of postgraduate student completions at both Masters and PhD level, Martin is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Participant Development and Talent Development
  • Influence of the Family on sports participation
  • Sociology of Coaching
  • Sports Ethnography
  • Cricket and Golf participation patterns/coaching
  • Rural sport and club sport provision


Following his PhD into ‘Developmental Socialisation in Junior Club Sport’, Martin has been heavily involved in a number of projects.

Currently, Martin is working on the two year European Occupational Standards for Golf project, funded through ECORYS (a UK agency) by the EU's Lifelong Learning Project Leonardo da Vinci fund, but other research includes a SportsCoachUK funded review of 'Participant Development'. Alongside a number of other colleagues who have expertise in the area (Professor Richard Bailey - UoB; Professor Dave Collins - Consultant; Dr Paul Ford – UEL and Aine MacNamara - Limerick (ably supported by Gemma Pearce - UoB), Martin was responsible for evaluating the 'social' impacts upon participant development. (See also publications).

Martin is also involved in the instigation, development and current analysis of data around Participant Development in the UK from a 1,000 participant online questionnaire (with Dr Matt Bridge and Professor Richard Bailey). After a successful pilot study in 2008, the open questionnaire was made available on a national scale to identify the participation patterns and trends of young people during their sporting years. Amongst other things the study intends to examine the 'Developmental Model of Sports Participation' within a UK cultural and educational context. (See most recent publications). 

 Currently, Martin is working on a number of proposals including the profiling elite golf performers (with the PGA) and investigating the value and effect of club sport on rural communities.

Other activities

  • QAA Subject Reviewer (Sport & Leisure)
  • External Examiner - UHI 
  • Member of the Board of the "World Scientific Congress for Golf" (www.golfscience.org)
  • Co-editor of the European Journal for Sport and Society (www.ejss.ch)
  • Member of the SportsCoachUK Higher Education Advisory Group
  • Member of the Executive Committee of "Herefordshire Sport"


  • European Association of Sport Sociology  
  • International Council for Coach Education 
  • International Sports Sociology Association


Selected Publications

Bridge, M. & Toms, M. (2012) The Specialising or Sampling Debate: A Retrospective Analysis of Adolescent Sports Participation in the UK, Journal of Sports Sciences DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2012.721560 

Collins, D., Bailey, R., Toms, M., Pearce, G. MacNamara, A. & Ford, P. (2011) Rethinking Participant Development in Sport & Physical Activity. In Talbot, M. & Holt, N. (Eds) (2011) Lifelong Engagement in Sport & Physical Activity: Participation and Performance Across the Lifespan, Routledge/ICSSPE, London, pp 45-62. ISBN: 978-0-415-67589-5.

Ford, P., Collins, D., Bailey, R., Macnamara, A., Pearce, G., Toms, M. (2011) Participant development in sport and physical activity: The impact of biological maturation, European Journal of Sport Science DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2011.577241

Collins, D.; Bailey, R.; Ford, P.; MacNamara, A.; Toms, M. & Pearce, G. (2011) The Three World Continuum: New Directions in Participant Development in Sport and Physical Activity. Sport, Education & Society, 16 (5), DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2011.607951

MacNamara, A.; Collins, D.; Bailey, R.; Toms, M; Ford, P. & Pearce, G. (2011) Promoting Lifelong Physical Activity AND High Level Performance: Realising an Achievable Aim for Physical Education, Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 16 (3), 254-278. DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2010.535200

Bailey, R.; Toms, M.; Collins, D.; Ford, P.; MacNamara, A. & Pearce, G. (2011) Models of Young Player Development in Sport. In Stafford, I. (Ed) Coaching Children in Sport, Routledge, London, pp 38-56. ISBN 978-0-415-49391-8.

Bailey, R. & Toms, M. (2010) Youth Talent Development in Sport – Rethinking Luck and Justice, in Hardman, A. & Jones, R. (Eds) The Ethics of Sports Coaching, Routledge, London, pp 149-164. ISBN: 978-0-415-55775-7.

Bailey, R.; Collins, D.; Ford, R.; MacNamara, A,; Toms, M. & Pearce, G. (2010) Participant Development in Sport; An Academic Review, SportsCoach UK, Leeds. www.sportni.net/NR/rdonlyres/991FF96E-C6DB-4700-A900-F4DF2732E81A/0/ParticipantDevelopmentinSport.pdf

Publications 2008- present (PDF 125KB, opens new window)

Publications 2001-2007 (PDF 120KB, opens new window)