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Mustafa Sarkar

Mustafa Sarkar

Associate Professor

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Dr Mustafa Sarkar is an Associate Professor of Sport and Performance Psychology and teaches across the undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. He is Module Leader for Advanced Topics in Sport and Exercise Psychology as well as contributing to several other modules across the undergraduate curriculum. He is also the Module Leader for the postgraduate module Current Issues in Sport and Exercise Psychology (MRes Sport and Exercise Psychology).

Career overview

Dr Sarkar joined the Sport Science Academic Team at Nottingham Trent University in September 2015. He graduated from Loughborough University in 2008 with a first-class honours degree in Sport and Exercise Science. He went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology (with distinction) from Middlesex University to achieve Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society (BPS).

In October 2009, he returned to Loughborough University and gained a distinction on the MSc Psychology of Sport and Exercise programme. Following this, in 2014, he gained his PhD which investigated the assessment of psychological resilience in sport performers.

Before arriving at Nottingham Trent University, Dr Sarkar served a post-doctoral role at the University of Gloucestershire. Specifically, he spent two years as a Research Fellow in Sport, Exercise and Wellbeing working within the School of Sport and Exercise, across the Faculty of Applied Sciences (psychological sciences subject group), and with external partners to develop the Faculty's research profile in related areas.

Research areas

Dr Sarkar is a member of the Sport, Health, and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Centre and the Sport Performance research group.

His research focuses on the psychology of sporting excellence and its application to other high performance domains (e.g., business). His work addresses how high achievers thrive on pressure and deliver sustained success, and clusters around the following themes:

  • Individual, team, and organisational resilience
  • Psychological safety
  • Mental health

Current PhD students:

  • Ms Emily Dargue (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Ms Adrienn Szabadics (Buckinghamshire New University)
  • Mr Benjamin Ashdown (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Mr Alex Harris (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Mr Michael Cooke (Ulster University)
  • Ms Elise Sibbick (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Mr Thomas McGlinchey (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Mr Joseph Stanford (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Mr Devesh Patel (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Ms Kelly Johal (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Ms Sally Hilton (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Mr David Harrison (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Mr Craig Strong (Nottingham Trent University)

Previous PhD students:

  • Dr Kirsten Fasey (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Dr Umut Dogan (University of Canberra)
  • Dr Hamad Altayyar (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Dr Paul Morgan (Loughborough University)

Opportunities arise to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil / PhD in the areas identified above. Further information may be obtained on the NTU Research Degrees website:

External activity

Consultancy and Enterprise

As a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), Dr Sarkar works closely with teams and organisations on creating environments and cultures to develop resilience and ultimately enable sustained success and well-being, including the United States and Netherlands Olympic Committees, the Football Association (FA), British Triathlon, British Rowing, British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), Swim England, Agility Team GB, Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), Sport Northern Ireland (Sport NI), Hockey Wales, Cricket Scotland, and Nova Centurion Swimming Club. He is regularly interviewed about sport psychology-related topics on national and local television and radio.

Editorial Positions

  • October 2021-present: Anxiety, Stress, and Coping: Associate Editor
  • May 2018-present: International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology: Editorial Board
  • February 2018-present: International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology: Editorial Board
  • June 2017-present: Psychology of Sport and Exercise: Editorial Board
  • January 2017-present: Journal of Sports Sciences (Social and Behavioural Sciences): Advisory Board
  • March 2016-present: Frontiers in Psychology (Movement Science and Sport Psychology): Review Editor
  • January 2016-present: Case Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology: Editorial Board
  • January 2018-December 2020: Journal of Sport Psychology in Action: Associate Editor

Membership of Professional Bodies

Awards and Prizes

  • AASP Dorothy Harris Memorial Award (June 2020)
  • AASP Doctoral Dissertation Award (June 2016)
  • BPS Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology PhD Award (August 2015)
  • Podium medallist for the “Award for Outstanding Sporting Project” (March 2012)
  • AASP Master’s Thesis Award (June 2011)
  • BASES Master’s Dissertation of the Year Award (February 2011)
  • Head of School Postgraduate Prize for Academic Excellence (November 2010)
  • Sir Robert Martin Faculty Prize (June 2010)
  • Xcel Sports Student of the Year (January 2010)

Sponsors and collaborators

Current and recent research is being / has been conducted with the collaboration of:

  • Dr Lee Moore, Dr Rachel Arnold, and Dr Desi McEwan (University of Bath, UK)
  • Dr Chris Wagstaff and Dr Daniel Brown (University of Portsmouth, UK)
  • Dr Karen Howells and Professor Diane Crone (Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK)
  • Dr Kate Tudor and Dr Chris Spray (Loughborough University, UK)
  • Dr Thomas Curran (London School of Economics, UK)
  • Dr Camilla Knight and Dr Denise Hill (Swansea University, UK)
  • Dr Ross Wadey (St Mary's University, UK)
  • Dr Ian Mitchell (Football Association, UK)
  • Dr Emma Vickers (TASS, UK)
  • Dr Katrien Fransen (University of Leuven, Belgium)
  • Dr Luc Martin (Queen’s University, Canada)
  • Dr Scott Pierce (Illinois State University, USA)
  • Dr Karl Erickson (Michigan State University, USA)
  • Dr Richard Keegan (University of Canberra, Australia)
  • Professor Paul Morgan (Buckinghamshire New University, UK)
  • Professor Joanne Butt (Liverpool John Moores University, UK)
  • Professor Andrew Parker (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
  • Professor Tim Rees (Bournemouth University, UK)
  • Professor Ivan Robertson (Robertson Cooper Ltd, UK)
  • Professor Cary Cooper (University of Manchester, UK)

Over the last seven years, Dr Sarkar has secured over £200,000 in external research funding. Research funding includes:

  • An evaluation of Rethink Mental Illness' physical health navigation project. L Healy, A Benkwitz, Z McVinnie, and M Sarkar, Rethink Mental Illness (2022), £15,000
  • Understanding BUCS football athletes: Motivations and profiles. C Saward, L Healy, and M Sarkar, British Universities & Colleges Sport (2021), £12,000
  • How to help coaches meet the psychosocial skill needs of their Generation Z athletes: A season long investigation in swimming. J Johnston, C Saward, M Sarkar, C Harwood, and D Gould, International Olympic Committee (2021), $19,750
  • The effect of exercise on cognitive function, self-control, and resilience in young people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). S B Cooper, M Sarkar, R Boat, M Nevill, and M Groom, Waterloo Foundation (2019), £35,462
  • MRes and PhD research projects. M Sarkar, Football Association (2019), £7,500
  • Impact of embedding physical activity into peer support groups. L Healy, M Sarkar, A Benkwitz, M Karanika-Murray, and M Nevill, Rethink Mental Illness (2018), £30,000
  • Understanding the "I" and the "team": An examination of both individual and team goal motives in the pursuit of shared goals. L Healy, M Sarkar, and J Johnston, British Academy (2018), £2,625
  • High school student-athletes’ perspectives and experiences of leadership as a life skill. S Pierce, K Erickson, and M Sarkar, Association for Applied Sport Psychology (2017), $2,735
  • Does psychological resilience predict sports performance under pressure? M Sarkar and LJ Moore, Association for Applied Sport Psychology (2015), $1,750
  • Evaluation of the Health Education North West (HENW) Mental Health First Aid Programme. D Crone, M Sarkar, T Dickson and T Curran, Health Education North West (2015), £6,552
  • ESPN’s Greatest Sporting City 2015. A Parker, M Sarkar, T Curran and S Williams, ESPN (2015), £24,936
  • Self-determination theory and young people. D Hill, M Sarkar, A Navin, J Côté and A Parker, Sports Coach UK (2015), £6,084
  • Evaluating the impact of neighbourhood support and timebanking on older adults’ wellbeing and resilience. A Parker, P Courtney, M Sarkar and K Kubinakova, Fair Shares (2015), £9,980
  • Evaluation of Mental Health First Aid for the Armed Forces. D Crone, A Parker, T Curran, M Sarkar, E Loughren and C Baker, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Families Association (SSAFA), (2014), £48,662


Fasey, K. J., Sarkar, M., Wagstaff, C. R. D., & Johnston, J. (2021). Defining and characterizing organizational resilience in elite sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 52, 101834.

Sarkar, M., & Hilton, N. K. (2020). Psychological resilience in Olympic medal-winning coaches: A longitudinal qualitative study. International Sport Coaching Journal, 7, 209-219.

Crone, D., Sarkar, M., Curran, T., Baker, C., Hill, D., Loughren, E., Dickson, T., & Parker, A. (2020). Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) for the UK Armed Forces. Health Promotion International, 35, 132-139.

Wadey, R., Evans, L., Hanton, S., Sarkar, M., & Oliver, H. (2019). Can preinjury adversity affect postinjury responses? A five-year prospective, multi-study analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1411.

Moore, L., Young, T. D., Freeman, P., & Sarkar. M. (2018). Adverse life events, cardiovascular responses, and sports performance under pressure. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 28, 340-347.

Morgan, P. B. C., Fletcher, D., & Sarkar, M. (2017). Recent developments in team resilience research in elite sport. Current Opinion in Psychology, 16, 159-164.

Fletcher, D., & Sarkar, M. (2016). Mental fortitude training: An evidence-based approach to developing psychological resilience for sustained success. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 7, 135-157.

Robertson I, Cooper CL, Sarkar M and Curran T. (2015). Resilience training in the workplace from 2003-2014: A systematic review. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 88, (3), 533-562

Sarkar M, Fletcher D and Brown DJ. (2015).What doesn’t kill me . . . Adversity-related experiences are vital in the development of superior Olympic performance. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 18, 475-479

Sarkar M and Fletcher D, Sport. (2014).Ordinary magic, extraordinary performance: Psychological resilience and thriving in high achievers. Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 3, 46-60

Fletcher D and Sarkar M. (2013) Psychological resilience: A review and critique of definitions, concepts and theory. European Psychologist, 2013, 18, 12-23

Fletcher D and Sarkar M. (2012).A grounded theory of psychological resilience in Olympic champions. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 2012, 13, 669-678

See all of Mustafa Sarkar's publications...

Press expertise

  • Psychology of performance excellence
  • Resilience in athletes, teams, and organisations
  • How high achievers thrive on pressure