Dr Sally Akehurst

Position: Head of Sport, Outdoor and Exercise Science

College: College of Life & Natural Sciences

Department: Life Sciences

Subject area: Sport and Exercise

Research Centre: Centre for Psychological Research

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About

I am Head of Sport, Outdoor and Exercise Science, a Discipline Area within the College of Life and Natural Sciences. The Discipline Area spans sport and exercise science, sport coaching, education, management and development, physical activity and health, sport therapy and rehabilitation and outdoor activity leadership and management, adventure sports coaching and outdoor learning in the environment.  I lead a team of 24 academics across three sites both in Derby and Buxton and enjoy the dynamic, team ethos we have with regard future looking, quality focussed, delivery of expertise in all three areas of learning and teaching, research and consultancy services. We are driven by passion for our subject and fuelled by curiosity, always seeking to enhance our provision and endeavor.

I am also an active researcher within sport and exercise psychology and provide consultancy services in applied sport pscyhology for athletes, coaches and officials. We have numerous partners in the Region with regard applied services and work collaboratively with colleagues in terms of research activity.

Teaching responsibilities

I teach on the following modules:

  • Principles of Sport and Exercise Psychology (Level 4)
  • Sport and Exercise Psychology (Level 5)
  • Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology (Level 6)
  • Academic and Applied Skills in Sport and Exercise
  • Research Methods for Sport and Exercise
  • Supervise undergraduate research projects for our Independent Studies for Sport and Exercise Module (Level 6)
  • I mentor students on the MRes Negotiated Module (Level 7) and supervise postgraduate research projects for the MRes in Sport and Exercise.

Professional interests

I was appointed Head of Sport and Exercise at the University of Derby in 2012, this recently expanded into the role of Head of Sport, Outdoor and Exercise Science, and Deputy Head of Life Sciences in 2014. This is a strategic leadership and management role within which I also research, practice as a Sport and Exercise Psychologist and teach at a Senior Lecturer level.

I became a BASES Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist in Psychology Support in 2008 and reaccredited in 2013. Since then I have registered as an HCPC practitioner Sport and Exercise Psychologist and as a Chartered BASES Sport and Exercise Scienctist. I was initially appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Derby in 2010, which prior to this I held a Lecturer in Sport and exercise Psychology post at Aberystwyth from 2005.

I completed my PhD in 2006 at the University of Bangor in Sport Psychology after being awarded a university funded scholarship in 2001. Whilst completing my PhD I also completed a PG Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education and became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, having been teaching in Higher Education since 2001. Prior to this, I completed an MSc in Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology at Bangor University 2000-2001 and a BA H Leisure and Sport Studies at the University of Brighton 1997-2000.

Research interests

Research Areas

My research investigates performing under pressure in relation to individual differences. My early work focused on the mechanisms by which performance breaks down under pressure and then moved towards exploring the influence of individual difference factors. In particular, my research focuses on the relationship between confidence, effort and anxiety and the interaction of narcissism and trait self-consciousness on choking.

Further areas of interest include: passion in sport; exercise dependance; perfectionism in sport; excelling under pressure; transformational leadership and narcisssism, and impression management in sport and exercise contexts.

PhD Supervision

I co-supervised Dr Simon Payne in his thesis 'Impression Management in Sport' at Aberystwyth University, completed 2011.

I currently co-supervise a PhD student Philip Clarke in his thesis exploring the Yips in sport at the University of Derby.

I currently co-supervise a PhD student Mark Fagy in a physiology-based thesis at the University of Derby.

Membership of professional bodies

  • British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES)
  • High Education Academy (HEA)

Qualifications

Undergraduate qualifications

  • BA (Hons) Leisure and Sport Studies (First Class), University of Brighton

Postgraduate qualifications

  • MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology (Distinction), University of Wales, Bangor
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education (Distinction), University of Wales, Bangor

Research qualifications

  • PhD - Choking under pressure: Mechanisms and individual differences, University of Wales, Bangor

Professional qualifications

  • BASES Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist - Psychology Support
  • BASES Chartered Sport and Exercise Scientist
  • HCPC Registered Practitioner Sport and Exercise Psychologist
  • Fellow of the Higer Education Academy

Recent publications

  • Ong, C, W., Roberts, R., Arthur, C. A., Woodman, T., & Akehurst, S. (2015). The Leader Ship Is Sinking: A Temporal Investigation of Narcissitic Leadership. Journal of Personality.
  • Payne, S. M., Hudson, J., Akehurst, S., & Ntoumanis, N. (2013). Development and Initial Validation of the Impression Motivation in Sport Questionnaire - Team. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 35, 281-298.
  • Akehurst, S., & Oliver, E. J. (2013). Obsessive passion: a dependency associated  with injury-related risky behaviour in dancers. Journal of Sport Sciences, 32, 259-267.
  • Akehurst, S., & Thatcher, J. (2010). Narcissism, social anxiety and self-presentation in exercise. Personality and Individual Differences. 49, 130-135.
  • Woodman, T., Akehurst, S., Hardy, L., & Beattie, S. (2010). Self-confidence and performance: A little self-doubt helps. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11, 467-470.
  • Akehurst, S. (2009). Self-love: Understanding the narcissistic sport performer. The Sport and Exercise Scientist, 21, 27

Recent conferences

Invited Presentations and Symposiums:

  • Akehurst, S. (2009, October). An Introduction to Sport Psychology. Talk presented at the All Wales Coaching Conference: What can the performance coach do for the archer? Builth Wells, Wales. Funded by the Welsh Archery Association Coaching Group.
  • Akehurst, S., Tod, D., Thatcher, J., Lavallee, D., & Anderson, A. (2008, October). To what extent is there reciprocity between psychology and sport and exercise psychology? Chair of Symposium at Nordic International Conference: Halmsted, Sweden. Funded by BASES International Travel Grant. A
  • kehurst, S. (2008, October). Exploring narcissism in sport: Adoption, application, and development of narcissistic understanding from mainstream psychology to sport psychology and back. Oral presented at Nordic International Conference: Halmsted, Sweden. Funded by BASES International Travel Grant.

Recent Conferences:

  • Akehurst, S., Leszczynska, O., & Oliver, E. (2011). Passion for dance: A negative dependency that enhances risky behaviour? Poster presented at European Congress of Sport Sciences International Annual Conference: Liverpool John Moores University, UK. Funded by University of Derby Sport and Exercise Department.
  • Akehurst, S., Woodman, T., Hardy, L., & Beattie, S. (2010, September). Self-confidence and performance: A little self-doubt helps. Oral presented at British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences National Annual Conference: Glasgow, UK.
  • Akehurst, S., Hardy, L., & Woodman, T. (2009, September). Examining the influence of narcissism and trait self-consciousness on choking under pressure in gymnasts. Oral presented at Association for Applied Sport Psychology International Annual Conference: Salt Lake City, Utah. Funded by Aberystwyth University Learned Societies Fund.
  • Akehurst, S., & Thatcher, J. (2009, September). I love me but what is that to you? Narcissism, social anxiety and self-presentation in exercise. Poster presented at British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences National Annual Conference: Leeds Met, UK. Funded by Aberystwyth University Sport and Exercise Science Department.
  • Akehurst, S., Woodman, T., & Hardy, L. (2008, October). Two studies investigating the interactive effects of narcissism and trait self-consciousness upon dispositional choking, and the role of confidence. Poster presented at Nordic International Conference: Halmsted, Sweden. Funded by BASES International Travel Grant.
  • Akehurst, S., Woodman, T., & Hardy, L. (2008, September). Effects of confidence and mental effort on performance breakdown under pressure. Oral presented at British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences National Annual Conference: Brunel, UK. Funded by Aberystwyth University Learned Societies Fund.
  • Akehurst, S., & Hardy, L. (2008, April). The influence of trust and confidence on conscious processing and performance. Poster presented at British Psychological Society National Annual Conference: Dublin, UK. Funded by Aberystwyth University Learned Societies Fund.

Additional interests and activities

Research Awards

Winner of the Sportesse Sport Science Award for best oral presentation of Established Researchers at the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science National Annual Conference at the University of Glasgow, UK (2010).

A little self-doubt helps (S. Akehurst, T. Woodman, L. Hardy, & S. Beattie). 3rd Prize in the Young Investigators Award at the Nordic International Conference in Halmsted, Sweden (2008). Two studies investigating the interactive effects of narcissism and trait self-consciousness upon dispositional choking, and the role of confidence (S. Akehurst, T. Woodman, & L. Hardy).

Research Grants (Successful)

Akehurst, S., & Oliver, E. (2010). Establishing the influence of personality and intrapersonal regulatory style on performance under pressure. Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships, Aberystwyth University (£14,000.00 - Successful).

Oliver, E., & Akehurst, S. (2010). Motivation for individual study engagement: The roles of competency and autonomy. Learning and Teaching Enhancement Fund, Aberystwyth University (£1393.97).

Akehurst, S. (2009). Investigating choking resilience and susceptibility in golfers. Department of Sport and Exercise Science Summer Bursary Fund, Aberystwyth University (£480.00).

Akehurst, S., Woodman, T., & Hardy, L. (2008). Interactive effects of narcissism and trait self-consciousness on choking under pressure in aesthetic sports. Aberystwyth University Research Fund (£2000.00 ).

 

Experience in industry

As an applied practioner in Sport nd Exercise Psychology, I have worked with various clients within the sport sector including athletes ranging from recreational to International level of all ages and mutlipe sports, for example: tennis, archery, golf, sailing, athletics, badminton, kayaking, and football. Similarly, I have provided coach education workshops and also worked with officials including futsal referees at an individual and group level.

As professional practitioners within Sport, Outdoor and Exercise Science we provide a range of services and work with mulitple partners in the Region providing one-to-one support, group and team based workshops, testing and monitoring services, educational workshops, performance profiling and rehabilitation support.

International experience

In 2008, I taught Sport and Exercise Psychology in Trinidad during the summer at the University of West Indies.

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