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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. His research addresses the psychology of performance excellence with a particular focus on resilience, psychological safety, and mental health. Dr Sarkar is Head of the Sport Performance Research Group within the SHAPE Research Centre. Across the undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes, Dr Sarkar primarily teaches sport psychology. He is module leader for the final year undergraduate module Advanced Topics in Sport and Exercise Psychology. He also contributes to the postgraduate module Current Issues in Sport and Exercise Psychology.

Career overview

Dr Sarkar joined the Sport Science Academic Team at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in September 2015 as a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2017 and then to Associate Professor of Sport and Performance Psychology in August 2020.

Prior to NTU, 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 NTU, 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 leads the Sport Performance Research Group within the Sport, Health, and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Centre.

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 and well-being

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 psychological safety to ultimately enable sustained success and well-being, including Google, the Premier League, the English Football Association (FA), and various international Olympic Committees (including the United States, Netherlands, and Romania). 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 (Sport and Exercise Psychology): Advisory Board
  • January 2016-November 2021: 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

  • BASES Role Model (July 2022)
  • 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 Rachel Arnold and Dr Lee Moore (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 Ross Roberts (Bangor University, UK)
  • Dr Kyle Paradis (Ulster University, UK)
  • Dr Sarah Mallinson-Howard (York St John University, UK)
  • Dr Ian Mitchell (Football Association, UK)
  • Dr Emma Vickers (TASS, UK)
  • Dr Katrien Fransen (University of Leuven, Belgium)
  • Dr Desi McEwan (University of British Colombia, Canada)
  • Dr Luc Martin (Queen’s University, Canada)
  • Dr Scott Pierce (Illinois State University, USA)
  • Professor Camilla Knight and Dr Denise Hill (Swansea University, UK)
  • Professor Richard Keegan (University of Canberra, Australia)
  • Professor Paul Morgan (Buckinghamshire New University, UK)
  • Professor Ross Wadey (St Mary's University, UK)
  • Professor Joanne Butt (Liverpool John Moores University, UK)
  • Professor Tim Rees (Bournemouth University, UK)
  • Professor Ivan Robertson (Robertson Cooper Ltd, UK)
  • Professor Cary Cooper (University of Manchester, UK)
  • Professor Dan Gould (Michigan State University, USA)

Over the last nine years, Dr Sarkar has secured over £250,000 in external research funding. Research funding includes:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the implementation of elite athlete mental health support services in the United Kingdom. S Giles, M Sarkar, L Healy, E McLoughlin, J Johnston, and S Cumming, International Olympic Committee (2023), $38,500
  • The effects of perfectionistic climate on perfectionism, resilience, fear of failure, and psychological wellbeing in youth athletes. M Sarkar, E Dargue, J Johnston, and S Mallinson-Howard, Association for Applied Sport Psychology (2022), $4,200
  • 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, D Harrison, 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, J Stanford, 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
  • Psychological safety, fear of failure, and resilience in a national sport organization. M Sarkar, L Healy, and J Morris, The English Football Association (2019), £6,000
  • Collaboration and team resilience in international football squads. M Sarkar, The English Football Association (2019), £1,500
  • 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


Healy, L. C., Benkwitz, A., McVinnie, Z., Sarkar, M., Islin, M., Brinded, A., Dodge, J., Opacic, S., Swithenbank, Z., Ranasinghe, S., Oliver, J., Karanika-Murray, M., & Nevill, M. E. (2023). Embedding physical activity into community-based peer support groups for those severely affected by mental illness. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20, 2291.

Sarkar, M., & Page, A. E. (2022). Developing individual and team resilience in elite sport: Research to practice. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 13, 40-53.

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.

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, C. L., Sarkar, M., & Curran T. (2015). Resilience training in the workplace from 2003-2014: A systematic review. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 88, 533-562.

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

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

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