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Prof Mark Williams

Professor of Sport Science

About Research

Professor Williams joined St Mary’s in 2017 as a Visiting Professor of Sport and Exercise Science in the School of Sport, Health and Applied Science. Professor Williams is currently the Chair of the Department of Health, Kinesiology and Recreation at the University of Utah, USA and has previously held senior leadership positions in the UK (Head of Life Sciences, Brunel University London) and Australia (Associate Dean for Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney).

His research interests focus on the neural and psychological mechanisms underpinning the acquisition and development of perceptual-cognitive and perceptual-motor skills. He has published almost 200 journal articles in peer-reviewed outlets in numerous fields including exercise and sports science, experimental psychology, neuroscience and medicine. He has written 15 books, almost 80 book chapters, 60 professional articles and has delivered almost 200 keynote and invited lectures in over 30 countries. 

He is Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Sports Science and Executive Editor for the journal Human Movement Science and sits on several editorial boards. He has mentored nine Post-Doctoral Research Fellows and supervised almost 50 doctoral students. He has been the recipient of prestigious Distinguished Scholar Awards from the International Society of Sport Psychology and the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. 

He has received more than $6 million in external funding from research councils in Australia and the UK (Economic and Social Research Council; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; British Academy; Royal Society), industry partners, such as Nike and Umbro, as well as governing bodies and professional sports such as FIFA and UEFA.


Selected Publications: 

  • Hodges, N. J., Ford, P. R., Hendry, D. T., & Williams, A. M. (2017). Getting gritty about practice and success: Motivational characteristics of great performers. Progress in Brain Research, 232, 167-173.
  • Williams, A. M., Fawver, B., & Hodges, N. J. (2017). Using the ‘Expert Performance Approach’ as a framework for examining and enhancing skill learning: Improving understanding of how experts learn. Frontline Learning Research 5, 139-154.
  • Denis, D., Rowe, R. Williams, A. M., & Milne, E. (2016). The role of cortical sensorimotor oscillations in action anticipation. Neuroimage, 146, 1102-1114.
  • Cocks, A. J., Jackson, R. C., Bishop, D. T. and Williams, A. M. (2016). Anxiety, anticipation, and contextual information: A test of Attentional Control Theory. Cognition and Emotion, 30, 1037-1048.
  • Ellmers, T. J., Machado, G., Wong, T. W. L., Zhu, F., Williams, A. M., & Young, W. R. (2016). A validation of neural co-activation as a measure of attentional focus in a postural task. Gait and Posture, 50, 229-231.
  • Larkin, P., O’Connor, D., & Williams, A. M. (2016). Does grit influence sport-specific engagement and perceptual-cognitive expertise in elite youth soccer? Journal of Applied Sport Psychology 28, 129-138.
  • Murphy, C., 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.
  • Vater, C., Jackson, R. C., Roca, A. and Williams, A. M. (2016). The effects of anxiety on anticipation and visual search in dynamic, time-constrained situations. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 5, 179-192.
  • Young, W. R., Oloniula, M., Masters, R. S. W., Dimitradis, S., and Williams, A. M. (2016). Examining links between anxiety, reinvestment and walking when talking by older adults during adaptive gait. Experimental Brain Research, 234, 161-172.
  • Broadbent, D.P., Causer, J., Ford, P.R. and Williams, A. M. (2015). The contextual interference effect in perceptual-cognitive skills training. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 47, 1243-1250.
  • Causer, J., & Williams A. M. (2015). The use of patterns to disguise environmental cues during an anticipatory judgment task. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 37, 74-82.
  • Balser, N., Lorey, B., Bischoff, M, Zentgraf, K., Williams, A. M. and Munzert, J. (2014). Prediction of human actions: Expertise and task-related effects on neural activation of the action observation network. Human Brain Mapping, 35, 4016-4034.
  • Balser, N., Lorey, B., Pilgramm, S., Naumann, T., Kindermann, S., Stark, R., Zentgraf, K., Williams, A. M. and Munzert, J. (2014). The influence of expertise on brain activation of the action observation network during anticipation of tennis and volleyball serves. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 568, 1-13.
  • Coughlan, E., Williams, A.M. and Ford., P. (2014). A novel test of deliberate practice theory: how experts learn. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 40, 2, 449-458.Ford, P. R., Hodges, N. J., & Williams, A. M. (2013). Creating champions: The development of expertise in sports. In S. B. Kaufman (Ed.), Beyond talent: The complexity of greatness (pp. 391-414). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Roca, A., Ford, P. R., McRobert, A. P., and Williams, A. M. (2013). Perceptual-cognitive skills and their interaction as a function of task constraints in soccer. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 35, 144-155.
  • Ward, P., Ericsson, K. A., & Williams, A. M. (2013). Complex perceptual-cognitive expertise in a simulated task environment. Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, 7, 231-254.
  • Williams, A. M. (2013). Science and soccer: Developing elite performers. London, UK: Routledge.
  • Helsen, W. F., Baker, J., Michiels, S., Schorer, J., van Winckel, J., & Williams, A. M. (2012). The relative age effect in European professional soccer: Did ten years of research make any difference? Journal of Sports Sciences, 30, 1665–1671.
  • Hodges, N. J., & Williams, A. M. (2012). Skill acquisition in sport: Research, theory and practice. 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.
  • North, J. S., Ward, P., Ericsson, A., and 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.
  • Williams, A. M., Ford, P. R., Eccles, D. W., & Ward, P. (2011). Perceptual-cognitive expertise in sport and its acquisition: Implications for applied cognitive psychology. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 25, 432-442.
  • Ford, P. R., Yates, I., & Williams, A. M. (2010). An analysis of practice activities and instructional behaviours used by youth soccer coaches during practice: Exploring the link between science and application. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28, 483-95.
  • Ford, P.R. Ward, P., Hodges, N.J., & Williams, A.M. (2009). The role of deliberate practice and play in career progression in sport: The early engagement hypothesis. High Ability Studies, 20, 65-75.
  • Vaeyens, R., Lenoir, M., Williams, M. A., & Philippaerts, R. M. (2008). Talent identification and development programmes in sport: Current models and future directions. Sports Medicine, 38, 703-714.
  • Williams, A. M., & Ford, P. R. (2008). Expertise and expert performance in sport. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1, 4-18.
  • Mann, D.T.Y, Janelle, C.J., Williams, A.M. and Ward, P. (2007). Perceptual-cognitive expertise in sport: A meta-analysis. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 29, 457-478.
  • Carling, C., Williams, A. M, and Reilly, T. (2005) The handbook of soccer match analysis: A systematic approach to performance enhancement. London, UK: Routledge.
  • Savelsbergh, G .J. P., van der Kamp, J., Williams, A. M., and Ward, P. (2005). Anticipation and visual search behaviour in expert soccer goalkeepers. Ergonomics, 48, 1686-1697.
  • Williams, A.M. and Ericsson, K.A. (2005) Perceptual-cognitive expertise in sport: Some considerations when applying the expert performance approach in sport. Human Movement Science, 24, 283-307.
  • Stratton, G., Reilly, T., Williams, A. M., & Richardson, D. (2004). Youth soccer: From science to performance. London, UK: Routledge.
  • Reilly, T., Williams, A.M., Nevill, A. and Franks, A. (2000) A multidisciplinary approach to talent identification in soccer. Journal of Sports Sciences, 18, 695-702.
  • Williams, A.M. (2000) Perceptual skill in soccer: Implications for talent identification and development. Journal of Sports Sciences, 18, 737-740.