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Chris Harwood


School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Professor Chris Harwood is the Director of the Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Centre at NTU. He is a Professor of Sport Psychology where his research focuses on the psychosocial aspects of athlete development, wellbeing and performance including the roles of the coach, parents, and the wider social and organisational environment. He is particularly focused on the integration of psychological principles into youth sport settings and his applied research is characterised by working with the support system around young people. Professor Harwood is also prominent in the area of professional development, supervision and training of sport psychologists in the UK and international systems.

Career overview

Professor Harwood joined the Department of Sport Science at NTU in May 2023 and was appointed as Director of SHAPE - the Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement Research Centre. He was previously a Professor of Sport Psychology at Loughborough University in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS) where he had studied and worked for 33 years. During that time, he developed and led the MSc programme in Sport and Exercise Psychology which became the highest recruiting programme of its kind in the UK, graduating over 700 students in a 20 year period. He served as Sport and Exercise Psychology Teaching and Research Group lead, and later as Deputy Associate Dean for Teaching. In 2017, he was appointed as the University Beacon Lead for Sport and Exercise research and led the cross-School University strategy for developing and supporting sport and exercise focused research towards REF 2021. Prior to joining NTU, he was Director of Impact, Partnerships and International Engagement in SSEHS and impact champion for Sport. He was awarded the status of Honorary Professor at Loughborough University in July 2023.

His applied research, enterprise and knowledge exchange activities have led to the development and execution of three world leading impact case studies in REF 2014 and REF 2021 that were focused around his 5Cs framework in youth football (see and his parent support intervention programmes in national and international junior tennis.  As a scientist-practitioner, he has published over 160 journal articles, book chapters and books on topics in youth sport, coaching psychology and parenting, and professional practice. He currently serves on several journal editorial boards including the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, The Sport Psychologist, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, and Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health.

Beyond his academic work, Chris is a HCPC Registered Practitioner Psychologist and held the position of Club psychologist at Nottingham Forest FC (2002-2004) before serving a further 8 years as lead psychologist in their youth academy. From 2010-2013, he was appointed to the role of lead psychologist at the National Tennis Centre for the Lawn Tennis Association, and again as lead psychologist to the National Tennis Academy at Loughborough University in 2019. He continues to supervise practitioners and consult on youth psychological support programmes in sport, working with organisations, coaches, athletes and parents.  Most recently, he was responsible alongside collaborators for editing a special collection of articles for school children globally for Frontiers for Young Minds on the Psychology of Sports Performance

Research areas

Professor Harwood's research areas align with a passion for enabling positive psychological and social outcomes for young people  through sport. His work focuses on the experiences of young people in both grass roots, competitive and high performance sport with specific attention to duty of care, life skills, mental skills, mental health and identity development. His research is often conducted with and through coaches and parents , as well as organisations with respect to enabling a high quality environment and support system around the athlete. By design, this work extends to understanding and supporting coaches and parents as key stakeholders in the youth sport settings and systems

Selective current projects include:

Understanding and enhancing interpersonal relationships in youth tennis  (partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation)

Parent-child interactions in pre and post tennis competition car journeys (with Dr. Sam Thrower, Oxford Brookes University and Professor Liz Stokoe, LSE)

Supporting athletes psychosocial skills through 5Cs coach education (Erasmus+ funded strategic partnership with Reykjavik University,  Icelandic National Olympic Committee, Icelandic FA , Icelandic National Youth Association and Icelandic Gymnastics Association)

Promoting Mental Health in the Entourage through High Performance Sport (MENTIS). Erasmus+ funded project with VUB (lead partner), INSEP, TeamNL, Spanish Sport Federation, Swedish Sport Confederation)

Frontiers for Young Minds - Special edited collection on  Psychology of Sports Performance

External activity

External Academic and Professional Positions:

  • External Strategic Lead for the Lawn Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation's Youth Tennis Parent Support Programmes
  • Vice-President, International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP) and Chair of the ISSP Registry Committee.
  • Member, Player Development Advisory Panel for the Womens Tennis Association (WTA) Tour.
  • Member, UK National Awarding Committee (NAC) within European Federation of Psychology Associations (EFPA) Programme for  Certification in Sport Psychology.
  • Member - Sport and Exercise Psychology Accreditation Route (SEPAR) Advisory Group (Reviewer Representative) for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences
  • International Chair in Sport Sciences, awarded by Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB)
  • Member, Forum of Applied Sport Psychologists Topsport (FAST) within the European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC).
  • Honorary Professor, Loughborough University.

Editorial Board Memberships:

  • Journal of Applied Sport Psychology
  • International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • The Sport Psychologist
  • Psychology of Sport and Exercise
  • Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health.


Selected Journal Publications:

  1. Hauser, L., Harwood, C.G., Honer, O., O’Connor, D. & Wachsmuth, S., (2022). Talent Development Environments within Sports: A Scoping Review examining Functional and Dysfunctional Environmental Features. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Advanced online publication.
  2. White, H. J., Harwood, C. G., Wiltshire, G., & Plateau, C. R. (2022). Parents’ experiences of family food routines in adolescent elite-level swimming. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 62, 102-237.
  3. Kramers, S., Thrower, S. N., Steptoe, K., & Harwood, C. G. (2022). Parental strategies for supporting children’s psychosocial development within and beyond elite sport. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, X, 1-23 (online)
  4. Thrower, S. N., Hamann, M., Stokoe, E., & Harwood, C. G. (2022). Examining parent-child interactions in British junior tennis: A conversation analysis of the pre-competition car journey. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 60, 102-166.
  5. Harwood, C.G., & Steptoe, K. (2022).  To excel in sport and life: Take care of your 5Cs. In the ‘Psychology of Sport Performance’ Collection, Frontiers for Young Minds (online)
  6. Otis, C. L., Hainline, B., Harwood, C., Jayanthi, N. A., Jensen, R., Keber, A., ... & Kliethermes, S. A. (2022). Differences in career longevity before and after implementation of the Women’s Tennis Association Tour Age Eligibility Rule and Player Development Programmes: a 25-year study. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 56,955-960
  7. Wachsmuth, S., Jowett, S., & Harwood, C. G. (2022). Third party interventions in coach-athlete conflict: Can sport psychology practitioners offer the necessary support? Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 34, 178-203.
  8. Schinke, R. J., Giffin, C., Cosh, S., Douglas, K., Rhind, D., Harwood, C., Si, G. & Papaiounnou, A. (2021). International society of sport psychology position stand: mental health through occupational health and safety in high performance sport. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, X, 1-23 (online)
  9. Woolway, T., & Harwood, C. G. (2020). Consultant characteristics in sport psychology service provision: A critical review and future research directions. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 18, 46-63.
  10. Harwood, C. G., & Thrower, S. N. (2019). Performance enhancement and the young athlete: Mapping the landscape and navigating future directions. Kinesiology Review, 8, 171-179.
  11. Woolway, T., & Harwood, C. G. (2019). Gatekeepers’ experiences of hiring a Sport Psychologist: A phenomenological study. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 31, 474-493.
  12. Harwood, C. G., Knight, C. J., Thrower, S. N., & Berrow, S. R. (2019). Advancing the study of parental involvement to optimise the psychosocial development and experiences of young athletes. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 42, 66-73.
  13. Middlemas, S., & Harwood, C. (2020). A pre-match video self-modeling intervention in elite youth football. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 32, 450-475.

Authored  Books:

  1. Harwood, C.G. & Anderson, R. (2015). Coaching psychological skills in youth football: Developing the 5Cs. Bennion-Kearney Publishers.
  2. Higham, A., Harwood, C.G., & Cale, A. (2005, 2007). Momentum in Soccer: Controlling the Game. Leeds: Coachwise/1st for Sport Publications.
  3. Harwood, C.G. (1998). Handling Pressure. Leeds, UK: National Coaching Foundation.

Edited Books:

  1. Thelwell, R., Harwood, C.G., & Greenlees, I. (2016). The Psychology of Sports Coaching: Research and Practice. Routledge/Taylor & Francis: London.
  2. Knight, C.J., Harwood, C.G. & Gould, D.R (2017). Sport Psychology for Young Athletes. Routledge: London.

See all of Chris Harwood's publications...