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Self-Regulation, Self-regulation Difficulties and Mental Health in Youth Sport

  • Full or part time
    Dr J Cumming
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

Self-regulation is fundamental to successful learning and performance and having having well-developed skills to manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviours enables young athletes to realise their potential in sport as well as other life domains. In contrast, self-regulation difficulties may have deleterious effects on a young athlete’s ability to perform under pressure as well impede their optimal functionning and mental health.

Despite self-regulation known to play a central role in adolescent development, this topic has received relatively little attention within youth sport. In particular, few studies have examined the role of self-regulation difficulties such as dysregulation or misregulation in contributing to negative outcomes among young athletes including mental health problems.

Thus, the primary goal of this PhD project will be to use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods to examine self-regulation and self-regulation difficulties in youth sport. Qualitative methods will explore athletes’ own experiences of self-regulation and self-regulation difficulties in practice and competition settings whereas quantitative methods will explore psychosocial determinants and outcomes of athletes’ self-regulation. Collectively, findings from the PhD will inform evidence-based and developmentally-appropriate resources to help coaches support their athletes to develop important self-regulation skills.

To discuss the project further, please contact Dr Jennifer Cumming ( or @drjenncumming).

The successful applicant will need:
1. A good first degree (2.1 or above) in sport and exercise sciences or psychology or a related subject.
2. A strong interest in sport psychology and youth sport.
3. Experience of quantitative and/or qualitative methods.
4. Excellent communication and relationship-building skills.
5. English language certificate (English at GCSE or equivalent)

1. Experience working in youth sport.
2. A higher degree in sport and exercise sciences or psychology or a related subject.
3. Excellent research methods skills.

The School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences is one of the longest established in Europe for scientific research into sport, exercise, health and rehabilitation. Thanks to a £16.4 million investment, the School is one of the largest custom built Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences facility in the UK. Facilities include teaching and research laboratories for physiology, biochemistry, psychophysiology, biomechanics, sport psychology, motor skills, immunology, muscle mechanics and the neurophysiology of movement. Research conducted in the school uses sport, physical activity, health and rehabilitation from a range of perspectives that address current issues in the field through our three research themes: 1) Sport Performance, Policy, and Education 2) Exercise, Medicine and Health, 3) Human Movement and Rehabilitation. This research was recognised in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF; 2014), with 90 per cent if its research classified as world leading or internationally excellent.

For more information on our Phd programme and how to apply see

Funding Notes

Applications from Home/EU and overseas students are welcome.

There is no funding available for this PhD project at current time. The University of Birmingham also offers a number of competitive scholarships for students of the highest calibre. Students are also welcome to apply with their own funding for this project either through their own person funds or by securing a scholarship (e.g., ESRC studentship - see View Website for more details).


Baumeister, R. F., & Heatherton, T. F. (1996). Self-regulation failure: An overview. Psychological inquiry, 7(1), 1-15.
Duda, J. L., Cumming, J., & Balaguer, I. (2005). Enhancing athletes’ self regulation, task involvement and self determination via psychological skills training. In D. Hackfort, J. Duda, & R. Lidor (Eds.), Handbook of research in applied sport and exercise psychology: International perspectives (p. 143-165). Morgantown, WV: FIT
Ntoumanis, N., & Cumming, J. (2016). Self-regulation in sport. In Schinke, R. J., K. R. McGannon, & Smith, B. (Eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Sport Psychology. Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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