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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 Chris Pocock and Mr Michael Barker as PhD students.

This research cluster has particular interest in investigating perception, cognition, and action in expert performance as well as factors that can expedite the acquisition of motor skills and we welcome enquiries from any prospective PhD students who would be interested in conducting research in these areas.

Dr North, Dr Roca, and Dr Murphy have all established ongoing national and international research collaborations and demonstrate a track record of publishing their research in high impact and prestigious peer-reviewed sport science and psychology journals.

Mr Pocock's PhD analyses the role of affective and contextual constraints on place kicking performance in Rugby Union. Mr Barker’s PhD 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 these environments.

The quality of Dr North's and Dr Roca's research was highlighted by their inclusion in the REF 2014 submission.

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.

For any enquiries, please contact either Dr Jamie North (, Dr Andre Roca (, or Dr Colm Murphy (

For regular updates and to gain insights in to work being conducted by this research cluster, give them a follow on Twitter (@EPSA_Group).

PhD students

All research degree students at St Mary’s are part of the Doctoral College.

Selected publications

  • Wild, J. J., Bezodis, I. N., North, J. S., & Bezodis, N. E. (in press). Differences in step characteristics and linear kinematics between rugby players and sprinters during sprint acceleration. European Journal of Sports Sciences.
  • Abbas, Z. A., & North, J. S. (2018). Good- vs. poor-trial feedback in motor learning: The role of self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation across levels of task difficulty. Learning and Instruction55, 105-112.
  • Pocock, C., Bezodis, N. E., Davids, K., & North, J. S. (2018). Hot hands, cold feet? Investigating effects of interacting constraints on place kicking performance at the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup. European Journal of Sport Science, In Press.
  • Roca, A., Ford, P. R., & Memmert, D. (2018). Creative decision making and visual search behavior in skilled soccer players. PLOS ONE, 13, e0199381.
  • Runswick, O. R., Roca, A., Williams, A. M., Bezodis, N. E., McRobert, A. P., & North, J. S. (2018). The impact of contextual information and a secondary task on anticipation performance: An interpretation using Cognitive Load Theory. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 32, 141-149.
  • Runswick, O. R., Roca, A., Williams, A. M., McRobert, A. P., & North, J. S. (2018). The temporal integration of information during anticipation. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 37, 100-108.
  • Dicks, M., Pocock, C., Thelwell, R., & van der Kamp, J. (2017). A novel on-field training intervention improves novice goalkeeper penalty kick performance. The Sport Psychologist, 31(2), 129-133. 
  • Howe, L. P., Waldron, M., & North, J. S. (2017). A practical approach to problem-solving movement tasks limited by an ankle dorsiflexion restriction. Strength and Conditioning Journal39, 25-35.
  • 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, 17, 721-736.
  • Pocock, C., Dicks, M., Thelwell, R. C., Chapman, M., & Barker, J. B. (2017). Using an imagery intervention to train Visual Exploratory Activity in elite academy football players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, In Press.
  • Roca, A., & Williams, A. M. (2017). Does decision making transfer across similar and dissimilar sports?Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 31, 40-43.
  • 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: Applied22, 455-470.
  • North, J. S., Hope, E., & Williams, A. M. (2016). The relative importance of different perceptual-cognitive skills during anticipation. Human Movement Science49, 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 Research233, 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 Engineering72, 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 & Exercise44, 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 Psychology65, 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. Memory19, 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 Psychology23, 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 Sport79, 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. Perception35, 317-332.