Edinburgh Research Explorer

Alan MacPherson

Lecturer in Sports Psychology

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh
The Importance of Rhythm for the Optimum Performance of Motor Skills

Professional Qualifications

Chartered Sport & Exercise Psychologist, CPsychol

Biography

Prior to working and studying at the University of Edinburgh I completed my undergraduate degree at Queen Margaret University College and did a Masters degree in Research methods in Psychology at the University of Strathclyde. In fallow periods and in addition to my studies, I coached rugby, worked in book shops and libraries and carried out some student demonstrator work. In 2002, I started another Masters degree in Performance psychology at the University of Edinburgh.


Between 2003 and 2006 I completed my Phd in ‘Utilising rhythmicity to optimise the execution of gross motor function’, became accredited as a BPS Sport & Exercise Psychologist, started lecturing in the Institute for Physical Education, Sport and Health Sciences, and worked for the Rugby Football Union Elite Refereeing Unit. My main research interests are in optimising the execution of gross motor skills and in the study of the acquisition of decision making expertise across a spectrum of physical and social settings.

In recent years I have undertaken significant research for UK Athletics and UK Sport and am currently responsible for masters level courses on the MSc Performance Psychology; BSc Applied Sport Science; and BEd Physical Education programmes.


I am a reviewer for two academic journals; the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology and the International Journal of Sport Psychology. Interests include mountain biking and playing golf (erratically).

Current Research Interests

  • Research Methodology
  • Planning for performance
  • Instructional Methods
  • Decision making in Group Dynamics
  • Expertise and decision making

Collaborative Activity

  • Motor control: Preferred Cadence in expert and novice cyclists and their relationship with bioenergetic efficiency.
  • Examining patterns of movement in elite athletes with a view to optimising perceptual control.
  • Determining optimal mental focus in the execution of self-paced motor skill.
  • Evaluating the effect of ‘sources of information’ on the learning and execution of gross motor skills.
  • Group dynamics and expert decision making

Research Student Supervision:

I currently supervise the following PhD students:

  • Hugh Richards - Performance Psychology
  • Raymond Bobrownicki – ‘Utilising sources of information to assist in the learning and execution of gross motor skill.’

Teaching

  • Planning & Instruction for performance
  • Group dynamics in performance teams
  • Sport Psychology – the individual
  • Research Methods
  • BSc (Hons) Thesis supervision
  • MSc Supervision
  • PhD Supervision

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