Dr Howie Carson

Lecturer in Motor Learning and Control / Lead for the Human Performance Science Research Group


Prior to joining Moray House School of Education and Sport in 2019, I completed my undergraduate degree at The University of Birmingham (2007-2010). Between 2010-2014 I completed my PhD at University of Central Lancashire which addressed technical refinement in performers with already well-established movement patterns. Following my PhD I spent 5 years as a Research Fellow in Skill Development and Coaching at University of Central Lancashire. During that time I conducted research and supervised doctoral students within the topics of motor skill development, coaching, decision making, talent development, sport psychology and movement analysis. Within my current role at The University of Edinburgh I am responsible for teaching motor control and applied sport science at undergraduate level. In addition, I continue to pursue my research interests with colleagues and PhD students and am Lead for the Human Performance Science Research Group.

From an applied perspective, I am a PGA Fellow Professional golf coach and Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist (BASES: Interdisciplinary, Support and Research). Reflecting these roles, I offer both individual as well as group consultancy sessions on issues relating to skill learning, skill refinement and skill optimisation. Provision to performers is almost always done in association with the personal coach, so providing the basis for future work without my input. In similar fashion, group sessions are usually educational, equipping coaches with practical tools which they can add to their armoury. Educational activities include consultancy, of which I have previously provided to national governing bodies in golf (The PGA), cricket (ECB), motor sport (MSA), winter sport (FISI), National Olympic Association (CONI), as well as to Scottish Ballet, Accrington Archery Academy, Lancaster Golf Club and Leicester Tigers Rugby Club.


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BA(Hons) (The University of Birmingham)

PhD (University of Central Lancashire)

Responsibilities & affiliations

Accredited BASES Sport & Exercise Scientist (Interdisciplinary, Support & Research)

Chartered Scientist (The Science Council)

Fellow PGA Professional golf coach (The Professional Golfers' Association of Great Britain & Ireland)

Undergraduate teaching

Course Organiser: Applying Sport Science 3, Motor Control 4


Tutor: Sport Science 1A and 2A (skill acquisition wing)

Postgraduate teaching

MSc Dissertation supervisor (Dance Science & Education)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Advanced and considered PhD inquiries are welcomed in the following topics:

Motor Learning and Control

Coaching Practice

Skill Refinement

Current PhD students supervised

Jiang, Y. (commenced Oct '22; Principal supervisor)

Ferguson, C. Towards optimising golf performance: Understanding and applying interdisciplinary interventions (commenced Jan '22; Principal supervisor)

Li, S. Understanding and developing sports coaching expertise in China (commenced Jan '22; Principal supervisor)

Nasser Alali, N. Information pick-up in physical education classes: Direct and/or indirect perception? (commenced Jan '22; Principal supervisor)

Peljha, Z. Establishing the relationship between selected physical fitness parameters and the efficiency in Olympic clay target shooting.

Simon, S. Technical templates and mental models in elite para-canoe coaches.

Past PhD students supervised

Orr, S. (2022). Toward an understanding of technical training in elite level golf. DProf, University of Central Lancashire

Collins, R. (2021). It really does depend: An exploration into the dichotomous positions held across the psycho-motoric concomitants to high-level performance. PhD, The University of Edinburgh

Moffat, D. (2020). Golf Putting: Establishing the impact and mechanisms of a target focus with high level golfers. PhD, University of Central Lancashire

Taylor, R.D. (2019). Exploring the impact of siblings on talent development in sport. PhD, University of Central Lancashire

Mather, B-J. (2019). Changing grass roots culture in Australian rugby league. DProf, University of Central Lancashire

Rotheram, D. (2019). Talent identification and development in Rugby League. DProf, University of Central Lancashire

Research summary

As an active researcher I seek to understand the optimal process of, and methods for, technical refinement in performers with already well-established movement patterns. This is invariably evidence-based  and individually focused. Recognising the unique challenges presented, refinement objectives include long-term permanency, resistance against the negative effects of competitive pressure and timely durations. Other areas of research interest include skill acquisition, performing under conditions of stress, coach decision making, talent development, kinematic and biomechanical sports motion analysis.

Current research interests

Motor skill development; translational research design; talent development; applied sport and dance science

Knowledge exchange

Carson, H.J. (2022, 1 September). Invited expert interviewee on the Noah Sachs Performance Podcast for golf coaches: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Carson, H.J. (2021, 24 November). Knowledge exchange webinar with Sport Scotland. Invited panel member by the company Interface “The knowledge connection for business”- Knowledge Exchange Webinar with Sports Scotland - YouTube

Carson, H.J. (2014, 15 July). Enabling technical refinement in cricket: Outcomes, process and measures. Invited consultant to deliver a CPD workshop delivered to the England and Wales Cricket Board, Loughborough, UK.

Carson, H.J., & Richards, J. (2014, January). Implementing motion capture technology in elite coaching environments. Consultancy CPD workshop delivered to the English Institute of Sport, Preston, UK.

Carson, H.J. (2013, 2–3 August). Practice and psychological contributions to improving your golf. Invited consultant to deliver a lecture and practical workshop at Lauterhofen Golf Club, Lauterhofen, Germany.

Carson, H.J. [representing my affiliated School at University of Central Lancashire] (2013, 1–7 July). Engineering the champions: The science behind sporting success. The Royal Society’s Summer Exhibition, London, UK.

Carson, H.J., & Collins, D. (2012, 2nd July). Learning to DO it well - Skill acquisition in golf. Consultancy CPD workshop delivered for The Professional Golfers' Association, Sutton Coldfield, UK.

Research activities

View all 7 activities on Research Explorer

Current project grants

Bobrownicki, R. (PI)., & Carson, H.J. (2022). Practice, communication, and performance in elite track and field competition: Investigation of real-world coach–athlete interactions. Small Fund Scheme - Moray House School of Education and Sport (£2,360)

Past project grants

Robinson, P.G., & Carson, H.J. (2021). Muscle activity of the extensor carpi ulnaris in the lead and trail wrist of sub-elite golfers during the swing. BASEM Research Bursary Award, £5,000

Carson, H.J. (2021). Assessing for the existence of especial skills in golf. Moray Endowment Fund Award, £1,320

Carson, H.J. (2021). University of Edinburgh Regional Skills Fund, £5,000

Carson, H.J. (PI), Timmons, W., Nash, C. & Collins, D. (2021). “The show must go on!” Examining the impact and recovery from COVID-19 in the performance arts. Data Driven Innovation Scottish Funding Council Beacon Open Call, £23,364.43

Carson, H.J., & Timmons, W. (2021). Understanding and developing technical skills in classical ballet: Ensuring safe and healthy practice. Scottish Enterprise Advanced Innovation Voucher Scheme, £10,000

Carson, H.J. (PI), & Timmons, W. (2020). Proof of concept using innovative motion capture and analysis tools in professional classical ballet. RKEI Innovation Funding (The University of Edinburgh), £1,059.70

Collins, L., & Carson, H.J. (2019). Technical water rescue REF impact case study. Internal funding University of Central Lancashire, £15,000

MacNamara, Á., Collins, D., Carson, H.J., Collins, L., & Kiely, J. (2017). A review of participant development in sport 2010–2017. A report for UK Coaching, £6,998

Collins, L., Collins, D., & Carson, H.J. (2016). Climbing awards review 2016. A report for Mountain Training UK, £16,780

View all 54 publications on Research Explorer

Invited speaker

Carson, H.J. (2023, 6 May). From motor control research to coaching practice: Taking a perspective FOR sport performance [Invited and funded presenter]. Sport Science and Performance symposium, organised by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), University of Pescara-Chieti, Italy

Carson, H.J. (2016, 29 October–1 November). Implementing technical refinement in elite-level athletes. Systems and procedure, critical success factors and challenges [Invited keynote presentation]. ‘Biomechanics research and motor control & learning principles: A call for more collaboration’ workshop organised by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) and the Italian Winter Sports Federation (FISI), Modena, Italy

Papers delivered

Carson, H.J. (2018, 11–12 November). Adaptive automaticity in adventure sport: Contemporary views and implications [paper presentation]. Coach Education for Adventure Sport Performance Conference, Betws-y-Coed, Wales

Carson, H.J. (2016, 18–21 July). Framework and progress indicators [paper presentation and lead symposium organiser]. Within the symposium “Technique change in experienced golfers: Coaching considerations for maximizing long-term permanence and pressure resistance”. World Scientific Congress of Golf VII, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

Carson, H.J., & Collins, D. (2015, 6–8 October). So now you’ve learnt to do it, how do you make it better? [paper presentation]. The Golf Trade Show, Harrogate, England

Carson, H.J. [presenter], & Collins, D. (2014, 30 April–1 May). Enabling technical change in already well-established skills. Paper presentation and expert panel member within symposium on the dedicated ‘applied day’. 5th Annual Meeting of the Expertise and Skill Acquisition Network, Sheffield, England

Carson, H.J. [presenter], Collins, D., & Richards, J. (2013, 4 September). Working inside the black box: Refinement of already established skills [paper presentation]. British Association of Sport and Exercise Science Annual Conference, Preston, England

Carson, H.J. (2013, April). A three-dimensional analysis of wrist kinematics in highly skilled golfers [paper presentation]. Xsens user group meeting, Preston, England

Carson, H.J. (2012, 10 October). Using movement variability to track technical refinement – The sultans of swing [paper presentation]. British Psychological Society Sport and Exercise Psychology in Action Conference, Portsmouth, England