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Dr. Philip Kearney


I am passionate about skill acquisition, and inspiring the next generation of sport scientists and coaches to apply the core principles of skill acquisition in the development of athletes. A Fellow of the Higher Education Authority, I am committed to excellence and innovation in teaching. My research focuses on developing coaches and athletes, and enhances my practice as a sport scientist and the quality of my teaching.

Research Interests

My research examines human motor behaviour; that is, how humans control their movements and develop their skills across the lifespan. My recent research has concentrated on youth sport, in particular within the context of track and field athletics.Working under the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences' Sport and Human Performance theme, my current research agenda consists of three strands:

(1) Maturation and youth sport.
(2) Coaches' knowledge and practices.
(3) Enhancing practice quality.

Strand 1: Projects within this strand have centred on the analysis of a database of track and field performances to determine: (i) the relationship between maturation (as indicated by relative age) and ranking, (ii) the relationship between success at different age grades in youth competition, and between youth and adult success, and (iii) the prevalence and consequences for participation of early specialisation within athletics. Additional projects within this theme have explored the influence of maturation on development in rugby union.

Strand 2: Specific projects include examining coaches perceptions of the importance of visual exploratory activity (aka scanning) in football, and how coaches refine well-learned techniques which are sub-optimal because of injury-risks or limiting performance. In addition, recent research has focused on how coaches design effective learning environments in an adventure sport context.

Strand 3: Specific projects include athletes' use of attentional focus in a range of sports, designing interventions to enhance musician's self-regulatory skills, and an industry report for the England and Wales Cricket Board examining coaches' perceptions of the practice behaviours of academy cricketers.

Research Collaborators


Book Chapter


Setting the scene: A framework for coaching practice in adventure sports
Kearney, P; Christian, E
Adventure sports coaching


Coaching the advanced performer
Kearney, P; Christian, E
Adventure sport coaching


Coaching tools for adventure sports
Christian, E; Kearney, P
Adventure sports coaching

Conference Contribution


European College of Sport Sciences Conference
Kinnerk, P. Harvey, S., Kearney, P., MacDonnacha, C., & Lyons, M.


PEPAYS Conference
Kearney, P. E., Comyns, T. M., & Hayes, P. R.


Movement & Skill Acquisition Ireland Conference
Armstrong, S., Arnott, P., & Kearney, P. E.


Adventure Sports Coaching Conference
Christian, E., Berry, M., & Kearney, P. E.

Conference Publication


The 27th International Symposium of Biomechanics in Sport
Kearney, P, Smyth, PJ & Anderson, R


2nd International Congress of Complex Systems in Sport
Kearney, P., Smyth, P. J. & Anderson, R.


The Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science
Kearney, P., Smyth, P.J. and Anderson, R.


12th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science
Kearney, P., Smyth, P. J. & Anderson, R.

Other Journal

Other Publication

Peer Reviewed Journal


Further evidence against eye-hand coordination as a general ability
Ellison, PH;Kearney, PE;Sparks, SA;Murphy, PN;Marchant, DC
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching DOI: 10.1177/1747954117747132


Investigating inspirational leader communication in an elite team sport context
Smith, MJ;Figgins, SG;Jewiss, M;Kearney, PE
International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching DOI: 10.1177/1747954117727684


Misunderstandings of concussion within a youth rugby population.
Kearney PE;See J;
Journal Of Science And Medicine In Sport DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2017.04.019


The identity, epistemology and developmental experiences of high-level adventure sports coaches
Christian, E; Berry, M; Kearney, PE
Journal Of Adventure Education And Outdoor Learning DOI: 10.1080/14729679.2017.1341326


A distal focus of attention leads to superior performance on a golf putting task
Kearney, PE
International Journal Of Sport And Exercise Psychology DOI: 10.1080/1612197X.2014.993682


Can Achievement Goals be Primed in Competitive Tasks?
Greenlees, I;Figgins, S;Kearney, P
Journal Of Human Kinetics DOI: 10.2478/hukin-2014-0026


Kinematic variability in running: a caution regarding use of the spanning set measure.
Hanlon, M; Condell, J; Kearney, P
Journal of Applied Biomechanics