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Expert Performance and Skill Acquisition

The Expert Performance and Skill Acquisition research cluster is comprised of Dr Jamie North and Dr Andre Roca as 'cluster leaders' as well as Dr Colm Murphy as a group member, and Mr Christopher Pocock and Mr Michael Barker as PhD students.

Dr North, Dr Roca, and Dr Murphy all evidence a track record of publishing their research in high impact and prestigious peer-reviewed sport science and psychology journals.

Mr Pocock's doctoral programme of work investigates how affective and emotional constraints influence rugby place kicking. Mr Barker’s doctoral programme of research investigates how perceptual-cognitive skills such as anticipation and decision making are affected by situational stressors and how performers can be trained such that performance levels remain robust in such environments.

The quality of Dr North's and Dr Roca's research was highlighted by their inclusion in the REF 2014 submission. Both Dr North and Dr Roca have established national and international research collaborations that have already resulted in research publications and are still ongoing.

Research projects conducted by the Expert Performance and Skill Acquisition group have received media attention and been featured on the BBC website's iWonder series as well as Test Match Special and publicised on the BBC Sport Twitter feed to over 8 million followers.

PhD students

All research degree students at St Mary’s are part of the Doctoral College. If you would like to discuss your proposal please email

Selected publications

  • Howe, L. P., Waldron, M., & North, J. S. (in press). A practical approach to problem-solving movement tasks limited by an ankle dorsiflexion restriction. Strength and Conditioning Journal.
  • Murphy, C. P., Jackson, R. C., & Williams, A. M. (in press). The role of contextual information during skilled anticipation. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
  • Abbas, Z. A., & North, J. S. (2017). Good- vs. poor-trial feedback in motor learning: The role of self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation across levels of task difficulty. Learning and Instruction.
  • North, J. S., Hope, E., & Williams, A. M. (2017). The role of verbal instruction and visual guidance in training pattern recognition. Frontiers in Psychology: Movement Science and Sport Psychology, 8: 1473.
  • North, J. S., Hope, E., & Williams, A. M. (2017). Identifying the minimal essential information underpinning familiarity detection in dynamic displays containing multiple objects. Frontiers in Psychology: Performance Science, 8: 963.
  • Padilha, M. B., Oliveira, J. G., Olivares, J. S., Roca, A., & Teoldo, I. (2017). The influence of floaters on players’ tactical behaviour in small-sided and conditioned soccer games. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport. DOI: 10.1080/24748668.2017.1390723
  • Roca, A., & Williams, A. M. (2017). Does decision making transfer across similar and dissimilar sports? Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 31, 40-43.
  • Runswick, O. R., Roca, A., Williams, A. M., Bezodis, N. E., & North, J. S. (2017). The effects of anxiety and situation-specific context on perceptual-motor skill: A multi-level investigation. Psychological Research. DOI: 10.1007/s00426-017-0856-8
  • Stone, J. A., North, J. S., Maynard, I., Panchuk, D., & Davids, K. (2017). Temporal and spatial occlusion of advanced visual information constrains movement (re) organization in one-handed catching behaviors. Acta Psychologica, 174, 80-88.
  • Bezodis, N. E., North, J. S., & Razavet, J. (2016). Alterations to the orientation of the ground reaction force vector affect sprint acceleration performance in team sports athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences,35, 1817-1824.
  • Murphy, C. P., Jackson, R. C., Cooke, K., Roca, A., Benguigui, N., & Williams, A. M. (2016). Contextual information and perceptual-cognitive expertise in a dynamic, temporally-constrained task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 22, 455-470.
  • North, J. S., Hope, E., & Williams, A. M. (2016). The relative importance of different perceptual-cognitive skills during anticipation. Human Movement Science, 49, 170-177.
  • Roca, A., & Williams, A. M.  (2016). Expertise and the interaction between different perceptual-cognitive skills: Implications for testing and training. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 792.
  • Vater, C., Roca, A., & Williams, A. M.  (2016). Effects of anxiety on anticipation and visual search in dynamic, time-constrained situations. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 5, 179-192.
  • Stone, J. A., Maynard, I. W., North, J. S., Panchuk, D., & Davids, K. & (2015). (De)Synchronisation of advanced visual information and ball flight characteristics constrains emergent information-movement couplings during one-handed catching. Experimental Brain Research, 233, 449-458.
  • Stone, J. A., Maynard, I. W., North, J. S., Panchuk, D., & Davids, K. & (2015). Emergent perception-action couplings regulate postural adjustments during performance of externally timed dynamic interceptive actions. Psychological Research,79, 829-843.
  • Roca, A., Williams, A. M., & Ford, P. R.  (2014). Capturing and testing perceptual-cognitive expertise: A comparison of stationary and movement response methods. Behavior Research Methods, 46, 173-177.
  • Stone, J. A., Panchuk, D., Davids, K., North, J. S., & Maynard, I. W. (2014). Integrating advanced visual information with ball projection technology constrains dynamic interceptive actions. Procedia Engineering, 72, 156-161.
  • Stone, J. A., Panchuk, D., Davids, K., North, J. S., Fairweather, I., & Maynard, I. W. (2014). An integrated ball projection technology for the study of dynamic interceptive actions. Behavior Research Methods, 46, 984-991.
  • Roca, A., Ford, P. R., McRobert, A. P., & Williams, A. M.  (2013). Perceptual-cognitive skills and their interaction as a function of task constraints in soccer. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 35, 144-155.
  • Roca, A., Ford, P. R., & Williams, A. M. (2013). The processes underlying ‘game intelligence’ skills in soccer players. In H. Nunome, B. Drust, & B. Dawson (Eds.), Science and Football VII (pp. 255-260). London, UK: Routledge.
  • Roca, A., Williams, A. M., & Ford, P. R. (2012). Developmental activities and the acquisition of superior anticipation and decision making in soccer players. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30, 1643-1652.
  • Moran, K. A., Murphy, C., & Marshall, B. (2012). The need and benefit of augmented feedback on service speed in tennis. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 44, 754-760.
  • Williams, A. M., North, J. S., & Hope, E. (2012). Identifying the mechanisms underpinning familiarity based judgments when viewing structured sequences of action. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65, 1975-1992.
  • North, J. S., Ward, P., Ericsson, K. A., & Williams, A. M. (2011). Mechanisms underlying skilled anticipation and recognition in a dynamic and temporally constrained domain. Memory, 19, 155-168.
  • Roca, A., Ford, P. R., McRobert, A. P., & Williams, A. M.  (2011). Identifying the processes underpinning anticipation and decision-making in a dynamic time-constrained task. Cognitive Processing, 12, 301-310.
  • North, J. S., Williams, A. M., Hodges, N. J., Ward, P., & Ericsson, K. A. (2009). Perceiving patterns in dynamic action sequences: Investigating the processes underpinning stimulus recognition and anticipation skill. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 878-894.
  • North, J. S., & Williams, A. M. (2008). Identifying the critical time period for information extraction when recognising sequences of play. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 79, 268-273.
  • Williams, A. M., Hodges, N. J., North, J. S., & Barton, G. (2006). Perceiving patterns of play in dynamic sport tasks: Investigating the essential information underlying skilled performance. Perception, 35, 317-332.