Physical Activity and Performance Research Cluster

The Physical Activity and Performance Research Cluster has over 30 research active staff undertaking multi-disciplinary research in both physical activity and sports performance contexts. Our research has been externally recognised as 'internationally excellent' and 'world leading' in the 2021 REF submission for Allied Health Professionals (Unit of Assessment 3) and Psychology (Unit of Assessment 4). Our research benefits local communities and a range of stakeholders across health, rehabilitation, physical activity and sports performance contexts.

Our aims

We aim to undertake research and evaluation into the impact and implementation of physical activity and health interventions across the human lifespan. Our physical activity research is centred on the effectiveness and the experiences of individuals and communities, as well as physical activity and health professionals. We also undertake research which enhances the performance of individual athletes, sports teams and organisations including professional and elite teams and organisations at the highest level in a range of sports.

Physical activity

Our group of physical activity researchers investigate the impact and implementation of interventions. They undertake research across the human lifespan to include children, adults and older adults and in different settings such as NHS, schools and the community. Our expertise includes the measurement of physical activity levels, health outcomes, as well as investigating the impact and implementation of interventions including the experiences of participants and providers. We have expertise in the evaluation of a range of physical activity programmes at the local and national level.

Our collaborations in Physical Activity include Active Derbyshire, Active Nottinghamshire, Notts County Foundation and Digibete. Our researchers have been involved with national organisations including the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines, Moving Medicine, BASES and the NICE Guidelines.

Sport Performance  

Our research in this area is undertaken by three groups of researchers:

Our collaborations in Sports Performance research include the governing bodies of elite sport including WADA, British Cycling, British Wheelchair Rugby, British Canoeing, the English, Welsh and Danish Football Associations. Our researchers also work with several Professional Sports Teams such as Burton Albion FC, Leicester City FC, GB Cycling and Derbyshire County Cricket.  We also work with our university colleagues at Sport and Physical Activity.

Research Cluster Team

  • Dr Sally Akehurst: Sport & Exercise Psychology: Performance Under Pressure, Narcissism, Confidence & Self-doubt, Passion & Self-presentation
  • Dr James Bostock: Sports Management: Sports Events, Strategies, Charities & Resilience
  • Dr Andy Borrie: Sports Coaching: Developing Practitioners & Talent Development
  • Dr Simon Briley: Sport Biomechanics: Wheelchair Propulsion Biomechanics in Sport Performance
  • Professor Chris Bussell: Sport and Exercise Science & Physical Activity
  • Dr Charlotte Chandler: Sport & Exercise Psychology: Practitioner Development & Physical Activity Behaviour
  • Dr Corinna Chidley: Sport & Exercise Immunology & Sport/Exercise & Nutrition
  • Dr Joel Chidley: Psychophysiology of Exercise Tolerance in Health and Performance
  • Dr Phil Clarke: Sport & Exercise Psychology: Performance & Coping Under Pressure 
  • Dr Andrew Cowen: Sport & Exercise Psychology in Performance Variations, Jungian Psychology
  • Joshua Davidson:  Strength & Conditioning: Injury Rehabilitation 
  • Professor Neil Fowler: Sport & Exercise Biomechanics 
  • Dr Luke Gibson: Organisational Change, Talent Development, Player Transitions in Professional Football Environments
  • Dr Ryan Groom: Coaching: Elite sport, Performance Analysis, Qualitative research, Mentoring Organisational change 
  • Dr Andy Hooton: Sport & Exercise Psychology: Practitioner Development & Lived Experience
  • James Keenan: Strength & Conditioning: Hamstring, Injury Risk Reduction & Workload
  • James Mitchell: Performance Analysis & Coach Education
  • Dr Minas Mina: Strength & Conditioning & Biomechanics: Balance & Stability
  • Dr Niaham Mourton: Physical Activity & Inequalities 
  • Dr Stuart Mourton: Skill Acquisition; Vision Training & ID Populations
  • Mark Newman: Physiology: Neuromuscular Physiology & Athletic Performance Enhancement, Force/Power-Velocity Relationship. 
  • Dr Scott Nicholls: Performance Analysis: Video Feedback, Profiling, Visualisation, Esports & Machine Learning
  • Dr Tom Outram: Sport & Exercise Biomechanics: Fatigue & Cycling Biomechanics, Biomechanics of First Metatarsophalangeal Joint Replacement
  • Dr Lee Pote: Strength & Conditioning: Practices, Load Monitoring & Injuries
  • Professor Andy Pringle: Physical Activity: Impact & Implementation of Interventions
  • Dr Clare Roscoe: Physical activity: Fundamental Movement Skills & Children
  • Lee Rylands: Coaching Science: Cycling, Bicycle Motocross, Performance Characteristics & Training Intervention
  • Nicola Taylor: Physical Activity: Nature & Movement Competence
  • Jon Woodward: Coaching: Coaching Pedagogies, Coach Behaviours & Development
  • Dr Shuge Zhang: Sport & Exercise Psychology & Psychology of Performance & Health Interaction
  • Kirsty Armstrong-Booth 
  • Kristian Brindley 
  • Nikki Davis 
  • Jamie Drummond 
  • Alex Dobell  
  • Jason Feavers  
  • Cameron Hartley 
  • Darren Laver 
  • Michelle Jackson 
  • Magdalena Michalczyk 
  • James Mitchell 
  • Sian Reynolds 
  • Liam Richardson 
  • Catherine Ross 
  • Billie Jo-Smith 
  • Nicola Taylor 
  • Alex Van Enis 
  • Shelley Walls 
  • Eleanor Ward 
  • Natalie Wier 
  • Emma Wood 
  • Jiany Zhang 
  • Yutao Zhou 

Our research

Fundamental Movement Skills and Physical Activity Levels in Children 

The research into the movement skills and physical activity levels in children is aiming to improve the fundamental movement skills (FMS) of children in the UK, Ireland and ultimately worldwide. Professor Clare Roscoe's research highlights that less than one-fifth of 6–9-year-olds have achieved competency in four key FMS (run, jump throw and catch), and she therefore suggests we need children’s FMS to improve because a more competent child will engage in greater physical activity levels and maintain greater health outcomes. 

Professor Roscoe's research on FMS has developed from working with preschool children, to primary aged children and assessing grassroots footballers. Clare was part of a team from England and Ireland to write the first ever motor competency expert statement, on behalf of the International Motor Development Research Consortium. A team at the University of Derby have assessed grassroots footballers within the laboratory and were the first to examine and quantify energy expenditure during different physical activities and FMS via indirect calorimetry in 8–11-year-olds. This research progressed into schools which was influential in highlighting that less than one-fifth of children aged 6-9 years have achieved competency in four key FMS (run, jump, throw and catch). This is worryingly low and has been an inciteful article in allowing me to make a critical contribution to the area of FMS and physical activity.

Human Performance Unit

Linked to our research in Sports Performance is our Human Performance Unit. Utilising the state-of-the-art sport science facilities within the newly developed sports centre, the Human Performance Unit has been established to provide expert sport science services to sports clubs and individual athletes from beginners to elite performers. Human Performance Unit - Facilities and networks - University of Derby   For further information on the Human Performance Unit, please contact Dr Tom Outram 

Join us

If you are interested in our research and would like to find out more, would like to join our research cluster or are applying for a PhD in this research area, please contact Professor Andy Pringle (, Dr Lisa Ledger ( or Dr Jack Parker ( for more information.

For further information on the Human Performance Unit, please contact Dr Tom Outram (


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