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Applied Sport and Performance Psychology

The aim of the Applied Sport and Performance Psychology Research team is to investigate a wide range of behaviours related to sport performance including the psychology of sporting injuries, the antecedents of elite sports performance, and the benefits of sport as a tool to improve mental wellbeing and quality of life.

Initially, the team, which was formed in 2012, was developed to capitalise on the expertise of two of its senior members in support of their active engagement in community projects and development of doctoral research initiatives.

External funding was obtained from the London Haringey Borough and Saracen's Rugby Football Foundation which led to a significant contribution to the local community and particularly to UK youth re-offending.

By cross-examining their own research interests, members of the group have developed a better understanding of issues arising within their disciplines. This collaborative approach has also provided a special insight into members’ individual projects and achievements.


For any enquiries please email Group Chair Dr Linda Duffy or call +44 (0)20 8411 5406.

Projects and research interests

Our main areas of research include the following:

  • Psychology of recovery from sporting injuries (mostly focused on extreme
    sport and activities)
  • Psychology of circus performers (as extreme performers)
  • The development of expertise in sport
  • The psychological effects of practice
  • Gender differences in throwing ability
  • Psychological resilience
  • Psychological factors as mediators of the development and maintenance of expertise in sport
  • Personality and perceptual and motor skills in sport
  • Addictive behaviours amongst sport performers
  • Sport Psychologists’ use of counselling principles and skills to develop practitioner-athlete relationships
  • Evaluation of children’s drawings in a sporting context
  • Evaluation of Sporting programmes to enhance mental wellbeing and support the rehabilitation of young offenders

Our academics may have specific individual research interests so please ensure to view their profiles below.

Examples of impact

Dr Cohen is working on a film project highlighting the injuries and psychology in this area as part of a project to develop psychological kit for Circus Art. She is also working with The National Centre for Circus Arts and Perform Health.

Dr Duffy is working with a variety of elite performers including Professional Darts players on the PDC Tour, the Saracens Foundation, Olympic athletes and the Jamega Golf Tour.

Dr Duffy and Dr Baluch were Principal Investigators on the Tottenham Active and Monday Club projects and currently direct the Get Onside project.

Examples of funding

2017 - ongoing: Get Onside Programme

External funding £15,000 Saracens RFC / Internal funding £15,000

The aim of this research is to evaluate the “Get Onside Programme”, which is a Rugby intervention programme, taking place at HMP Feltham YOI designed to establish mechanisms that help reduce re-offending amongst young offenders (see publication Welland et al 2020).

2014 – 2016 completed: Monday Club programme

External funding £10,000

Saracens RFC “Monday Club” activity programme for individuals with ASD and their parents/carers. This research evaluated a weekly activity/exercise programme taking place at Allianz Park designed to improve the negative behaviours of young people presenting with ASD. (see publication Duffy et al 2017)

2013 – 2016 completed: Tottenham Active! Project

External funding £10,000

The aim of this research was to investigate determinants of engagement and adherence to physical activity among participants engaging in a community based physical activity programme. Results of the initial investigation were presented to the Commissioning Manager, Active Communities 8th December 2014

Selected publications: 2014 to present

Heydari, H., Badami, R., Baluch, B & Duffy, L. J. (2014) Dropout reasons in Iranian youth roller skaters. International Journal of Science Culture and Sport. 8, 89-102.

Duffy , L. J., Baluch, B. Badami, R. & Elisangela C Ap Pereira (2014). Children's drawings of world cup football players: A cross-continental study. The British Psychological Society Conference Amsterdam 4-6th September 2014.

Homayonizadi, N., Badami. R., Baluch. B, & Duffy. L. (2016). The Perception of Same Gender Coaches by Iranian Skaters and its Influence on Sport Achievement Motivation and Commitment. International Journal of Science Culture and Sport. March 2016 : 4(1) 1, 13.

Badami, R., Mahmoudi. S, & Baluch. B. (2017). Effect of sports vision exercise on visual perception and reading performance in 7-10 year old developmental dyslexic children. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation 12 (6), 604-609.

Duffy, L. Baluch, B., Welland, S., & Raman, E. (2017). Effects of Physical activity on debilitating behaviours in 13- to 20- year old males with severe Autism Spectrum Disorder Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation 2017;13(3): 340-347.

Baluch, B., Duffy, L., Badami. R, & Pereira, E. (2017). A cross-continental study on children's drawings of football players: Implications for understanding key issues and controversies in human figure drawings. Europe’s Journal of Psychology 13(3), 455–471.

Cohen, R., Baluch, B. & Duffy, L. (2018). Defining Extreme Sport: Conceptions and Misconceptions. Frontiers in Psychology. 18 October 2018 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01974

Cohen, R., Baluch, B. & Duffy, L. (2018). Personality differences amongst Drag racers and Archers: Implications for sport injury rehabilitation. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 14(5): 783–790.

Baluch, B. (2019). Human Figure Drawings by Children: A measure of Sporting Ability? https://www.psychreg.org/children-sporting-ability/

Welland, S. (2019). How Rugby is Helping to Reform Offenders in the UK https://www.psychreg.org/rugby-offenders/

Duffy, L. (2019). I Just Can’t Let Them Go: Dartitis Is an Extremely Debilitating https://www.psychreg.org/dartitis/

Welland, S., Duffy, L. & Baluch, B. (2020) .Rugby as a rehabilitation programme in a UK Male Young Offenders Institution: Key findings and implications from mixed methods research. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 16 (1) . pp. 78-87.

Student profile

Research student applications and placements

If you're wanting to undertake a PhD or looking to gain research assistant experience, we recommend speaking to our academics. They can help advise on what's available, your options and how we can work together. Contact details are available on their staff profiles.

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