Mike Ashford (BSc MSc PHd)

Lecturer in Sports Coaching

  • Moray House School of Education and Sport
  • Applied Coaching Science Research Group

Contact details


Having previously completed my BSc and MSc in Sports Coaching, I then went onto complete my doctorate tited "A theoretical examination of the role and development of decision making in Rugby Union through applied settings" all at Leeds Beckett University. Since 2013, I have balanced my time between research, teaching, coaching and coach development, with work specific to rugby union, alongside Olympic, individual and team sport settings through Grey Matters Performance. My research interests have included skill acquisition, pedagogy, decision making, team coordination, performance psychology, leadership and both coaching and coach development practice.

Throughout my career I have immersed myself in bridging the gap between theory and practice within the coaching discipline. Consequently, the majority of my work has been conducted in an applied setting. I am also an active practitioner, who aims to apply and support those I work with to apply, evidence informed principles into practice whereever possible. I have previously been Head of Coach Development at Wasps Rugby, been head coach at Harrogate Rugby Club and Leeds University 1st XV and held teaching and research positions at Leeds Beckett University and Coventry University.


BSc in Sports Coaching from Leeds Beckett University. MSc in Sports Coaching from Leeds Beckett University. PHd in Sports Coaching discipline from Leeds Beckett University.

Undergraduate teaching

Applied Sports Science.

Postgraduate teaching

Performance Psychology. Performance Coaching and Development (MSc & Applied PHd).

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

My current research has included a number of key themes; player decision making in rugby union and team sports, talent identification and development, the role of challenge and emotional distrubance in player development, coach planning and decision making, coaching practice, skill acquisition and coach development. Presently, I am undertaking a number of projects which include; developing and implementing shared mental models of performance, the impact of law modifications on coach, player and referee behaviour, team coordination, player decision making, coach expertise, and understanding athletes true experiences in Olympic sports. Generally, my research explores a wide array of concepts central to the role of a coach and/or coach developer.

Past research interests

Coaching problems, decision making processes,

Affiliated research centres

  • Applied Coaching Science Research Group