Sports Coaching Research Group

Psycho-pedagogical research in sports coaching examines the person-in-context from the perspective a variety of actors (e.g., athletes, coaches, officials) and dyads/triads (e.g., coach-athlete) in a range of sport settings (high performance, participation, traditional, extreme). This research cluster is focused on applied research to foster performance and health outcomes for all actors in the sporting landscape.

Key areas of research include:

  • Coach as architect (e.g., motivational/learning climate, psychological needs)
  • Coach as educator (e.g., digital learning habitats, daily training environments)
  • Coach as leader (e.g., social identity, shared leadership, culture)
  • Coach as learner (e.g., workplace learning, social learning, e-Learning)
  • Coach as performer (e.g., narrative identity; strivings, emotions, mental toughness, beliefs/mindset, assessment and evaluation);


Professor Cliff Mallett

Dr Steven Rynne

Research Concentrations and Collaborators

  • Social identity, leadership and health: Profs. Alex and Cath Haslam, Dr Nik Steffens (Psychology, UQ); Prof. Katrien Fransen (Leuven, Belgium)
  • Positive Parenting Program: Prof. Matt Sanders, Dr James Kirby (Psychology, UQ)
  • Leadership and performance: Prof. Jürgen Beckmann, Vanessa Wergin, Chris Mächel (Technical University of Munich)
  • Narrative identity: Dr Tristan Coulter (QUT), Prof. Jefferson Singer (Connecticut), Dr Jarred Parkes (UQ)
  • Sports coaching, learning and development: Emeritus Prof. Pierre Trudel, Prof. Diane Culver (University of Ottawa), Prof. Tania Cassidy (Otago University), Dr Michel Milistedt (Universidade Federal do Santa Catalina), Dr Dean Barker, Dr Natalie Barker-Ruchti (Örebro University).

Major Industry Partners

As long-standing members of the research and practitioner communities in sports coaching, the staff at UQ are highly connected internationally and domestically. The UQ Sports Coaching team works with a variety of peak bodies in sport such as national sporting organisations, international federations and coaching associations.

Current Funded Research Projects



Funding Scheme


High performance coach development: Harnessing cross cultural advantages (2020–2022)

Steven Rynne

Cliff Mallett

Australia-Japan Foundation 2020-2022

Creating a thriving community for young people through junior rugby league

Cliff Mallett

Matthew Sanders

James Kirby

Steven Rynne



National Rugby League Research Projects


Mitigating the impacts of Relative Age Effect in junior rugby league: Evaluating an intervention

Bob Crudgington

Cliff Mallett

Vincent Kelly

Mike Castle (NRL)


National Rugby League Research Projects


  • Jose Ferreira (Portugal) - Authenticity in coaching practice
  • Adam Carey – Ecology of the daily training environment in elite sport
  • Jamie Young – Examining coach behaviours in elite sport
  • Pouria Nabi - An examination of shared leadership within athlete leaders in elite Australian sport teams
  • Andrew Kennedy - The higher-order cognitive capacities of sports coaches: Associations between cognitive control, decision-making under uncertainty, and expertise
  • Matt Bain (Canada) – High performance athlete and coach experiences: A retrospective examination of autonomy-supportive coaching
  • Mathew Grey – Investigating athletes’ and coaches’ mindsets in elite youth sport
  • Glenn Fyall – Organisational learning within a successful high performance rugby franchise


Recent PhD projects (last 5 years):

  • Dr Megan Gilchrist – “We had to get a win!”: Culture and leadership in underperforming professional football teams
  • Dr James Vaughan - Creativity in Football: Conceptual frameworks and cultural case studies to inform coaching praxis
  • Dr Eva Ellmer – Learning in Action Sports: The unique experiences of high performance BMX riders
  • Dr Kath O’Brien (2019) - Considering how high-performance sport officials learn their craft: ‘People, Place, and Product’
  • Dr Jarred Parkes (2018) - Coach as performer: Coach emotion, coping, and the coach-athlete-performance relationship
  • Dr Rebecca Dickinson (2017) - Talent transfer in the Australian sport system: A qualitative investigation
  • Dr Matthew Lyons (2017) – Playing nice: Adaptive motivational climates environments in high performance sport
  • Dr Ruth Anderson (2017) - Psychological automaticity: Investigating the optimal psychological state for peak performance
  • Dr Anthony Ross (2016) - Developing features of sport parenting expertise: An investigation and intervention
  • Dr Tristan Coulter (2016)* – Understanding mental toughness in sport: An integrated examination of the interdependency between the person and context
  • Dr John Mahoney (2015) – The development of mental toughness in adolescents: Utilising established theories
  • Dr Joe Occhino (2014) – Promoting a psychological need-supportive environment: An investigation into changing behaviour
  • Dr Donald Wharton (2014) – Expertise in coaching interceptive sports: A grounded theory model
  • Dr Yi-Che Tao (2014) – From East to West: A workplace learning study of Chinese high performance diving coaches in Diving Australia.

*Dean’s Award