National Careers Week 2020 - Stewart Cotterill

‘National Careers Week’ (2-7 March) is currently underway, helping students to make inspired and informed choices about their future. This week, AECC University College’s academic team are joining in on the initiative by sharing expert insight and advice based on their own career experience. In this interview, Professor Stewart Cotterill discusses his exciting career working with the England Cricket team, Bournemouth Rugby Club and the GBR sailing team to improve team performance.

PhD Psychol AFBPS HCPC FBASES FHEA – Head of School of Psychology, Sport and Physical Activity, Professor of Sport and Performance Psychology

Stewart Cotterill England Cricket Team Photo

Consultancy for Elite Athletes

I can’t believe I have been working as a Sport and Performance Psychologist for twenty years now, though I have had an amazing time. I have been fortunate enough to work with a broad range of clients, from across many different sports, including AFC Bournemouth, Gloucester Rugby Club, GB Sailing, England Cricket, England Athletics, and Somerset County Cricket Club to name a few! I have also had the opportunity to travel a lot with the job, going to the USA, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, West Indies and across Europe.”

Getting started

I went to University thinking I was going to be a PE teacher, studying a degree in Sport Science and Geography - my favourite two subjects. I was also a reasonably talented track and field athlete, but not quite motivated enough to fulfil my potential. I got really interested in the psychology parts of the course and in trying to understand more about motivation - I was hooked.

Leading the industry

A career in Sports Psychology is so exciting. I absolutely love working in sport - every day is amazing when you are doing something you love. I can also argue that going to watch live sport is research!  

You get to meet so many interesting people and learn a lot about different sports and activities. Every day is different, and there is lots of opportunity to travel, whether it is in the UK or Internationally. It is also great to work with people who want to be the best they can be, and want to improve their performance.”


I have a few ongoing projects that I’m working on. Firstly, I have been conducting research to better understand the role of Captains in sports teams. We have explored this in professional rugby and cricket, and we are now exploring this in professional football. Also, we are working to better understand the impact of social media on sports performance. I’m also working on a project exploring how experts from different performance areas e.g. sport, music, surgery, the military etc. cope and perform under pressure.

AECC University College

First and foremost, I love the people. We have a fantastic community here, which I think helps students to learn and staff to excel in their jobs. The specialist focus of the University College is also great, offering real depth in what we do. The location is amazing too, Bournemouth is a great place to live and study – the Parkwood campus is only a 10 minute-walk from the beach!” 

Find out more about careers available to you after completing study in our subject areas of sport, exercise and health science; and psychology: Visit Future careers.