Dr Howie Carson (PhD BASES C.Sci FPGA)

Senior Lecturer in Motor Learning and Control / Co-Programme Director: BSc (Hons) Applied Sport Science / Lead for the Human Performance Science Research Group

  • Moray House School of Education and Sport, ISPEHS
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Moray House School of Education and Sport, SLL 4.19

University of Edinburgh (Holyrood Campus)
Post code


As a research-focused academic, Howie specialises in topics across coaching and performance, including: motor skill refinement, skill acquisition, talent development, decision making and movement analysis. Following his PhD and prior to joining Moray House, Howie spent 5 years as a Research Fellow in Skill Development and Coaching at University of Central Lancashire. Within his current role at The University of Edinburgh he is the Co-Programme Director of the BSc (Hons) Applied Sport Science degree, supervises several PhD students and leads the Human Performance Science Research Group.

From an applied perspective, Howie is a PGA Fellow Professional golf coach and Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist (BASES: Interdisciplinary, Support and Research). Reflecting these roles, he offers both individual as well as group consultancy sessions on issues relating to skill acquisition, skill refinement and skill optimisation. Work with performers is almost always done in association with the personal coach, so providing the basis for future work without his 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 Howie has previously provided to national governing bodies in golf (The PGA), cricket (ECB), rugby (RFU), motor sport (MSA), winter sport (FISI - Italy), National Olympic Association (CONI - Italy), 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

Co-Programme Director: BSc (Hons) Applied Sport Science

Course Organiser: Applying Sport Science 3, Motor Control 4

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Currently interested in advanced PhD proposals in the topics of motor skill refinement, performance under pressure and coaching practice. 

Current PhD students supervised

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)

Alali, N.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.


Past PhD students supervised

Simon, S. (2023). The study of heuristic bias within decision-making relating to observation and analysis strategies of high-performance coaches. DProf, University of Central Lancashire

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 dichThe study of heuristic bias within decision-making relating to observation and analysis strategies of high-performance coachesotomous 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 Howie seeks 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. (2023, 9 August). Why philosophy matters for evidence-informed golf coaching. Invited webinar to The Professional Golfers’ Association of Australia: (542) Why Coaching Philosophy Matters - YouTube

Bobrownicki, R., & Carson, H.J. (2022, 10 November). Why athletes' skills fail them – and how focusing on memory can help professionals and amateurs perform better (theconversation.com)

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

Carson, H.J. (2021, 24 November). “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, 2 July). Learning to DO it well - Skill acquisition in golf. Consultancy CPD workshop delivered for The Professional Golfers' Association, Sutton Coldfield, UK.

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

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