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Dr Adam Nichol

Assistant Professor

Department: Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation

Adam joined the Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation at Northumbria University in January 2023 after having previously worked at Durham University and Manchester Metropolitan University where he was Programme Leader for the BSc (Hons) Sport Coaching and Development programme. His research focuses on the critical (sociological) study of influence in sport and sporting organisations. Throughout his PhD, Adam conducted an ethnography to examine the means through which key organisational actors (e.g., coaches and athletes) influenced (or not) one another. This work, underpinned by social and organisational theory, has been used to develop bespoke CPD training and development opportunities for a range of professional and recreational sporting organisations. More recently, Adam has embarked on a collaborative project with Manchester City FC – City in the Community to critically investigate and support the practice of community sport coaches in implementing key policy objectives (e.g., transforming lives and communities).


Adam’s research has also examined key systemic international issues (e.g., match official dropout) in the domain of sport. Here, his work in collaboration with The FA and funded by UEFA has been presented internationally to 55 member football associations and has influenced national sporting policy regarding the recruitment, training, development, and retention of match officials. This ongoing line of inquiry also explores the lived experiences of and strategies used by match officials to manage relations, emotions and conflict with key stakeholders in the game and how this is related to wellbeing. In this area, Adam is currently working with the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited), New Zealand Football and Football Victoria (Australia).


An advocate for the power of sport, his work has involved campaigns to prevent the closure of local leisure facilities, resulting in the build of a new £20M sport centre, and pitches to the Children’s Minister for Education surrounding PE and Sport Premium funding. Adam is also an active National League football match official, cricket coach, coach educator and referee tutor. Alongside research, these experiences inform Adam’s teaching on a variety of modules.

Adam Nichol

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Coaching in the shadows: critically examining the unintended (non)influence of pedagogical practice, Nichol, A., Potrac, P., Hayes, P., Boocock, E., Vickery, W., Morgan, C., Hall, E. 15 Oct 2021, In: Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy
  • Athletes as ‘sites of normative intersectionality’: Critically exploring the ontology of influence in sport coaching., Nichol, A., Hayes, P., Vickery, W., Boocock, E., Potrac, P., Hall, E. 1 Sep 2021, In: Sociology of Sport Journal
  • Fear, Anger, and Loneliness: Emotional Pain and Referee Attrition in English Grassroots Football, Potrac, P., Hall, E., Nichol, A. 1 Sep 2022, In: Sociology of Sport Journal
  • Examining the Relationships Between Coaching Practice and Athlete “Outcomes”: A Systematic Review and Critical Realist Critique, Nichol, A., Hall, E., Vickery, W., Hayes, P. 1 Jan 2019, In: International Sport Coaching Journal
  • A case study of behaviour: Differences between a head coach and player-coach, Vickery, W., Bhardwaj, D., Feros, S., Bruce, L., Nichol, A. 17 Mar 2023, In: International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching
  • Sport, Emotion, and Engagement, Potrac, P., Gearity, B., Nichol, A., Hall, E. 2022, The Oxford Handbook of Sport and Society, Oxford, Oxford University Press
  • Developing Politically Astute Football Coaches: An Evolving Framework for Coach Learning and Coaching Research, Potrac, P., Hall, E., McCutcheon, M., Morgan, C., Kelly, S., Horgan, P., Edwards, C., Corsby, C., Nichol, A. 10 Jun 2022, Coach Education in Football, London, Taylor & Francis
  • Coaching Profession: Acting as a Coach, Potrac, P., Gearity, B., Nichol, A., Morgan, C., Hall, E. 19 Mar 2021, Coaching for Human Development and Performance in Sports, Cham, Springer
  • What actually happens during a practice session? A coach’s perspective on developing and delivering practice, Vickery, W., Nichol, A. 16 Dec 2020, In: Journal of Sports Sciences
  • Critically understanding and engaging with the (micro)political dimensions of coaches' work in an advanced undergraduate coaching course, Potrac, P., Nichol, A., Hall, E. 3 Dec 2019, Coach education and development in sport, London, Taylor & Francis

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Membership of network: Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC) (External organisation) 2022
  • Membership of network: Critical Realism Network (International) Discussion Groups (External organisation) 2022
  • Other: Reviewer for Sports Coaching Review 2022
  • Membership of network: International Society of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise (External organisation) 2021
  • Other: Reviewer for Journal of Applied Sport Psychology 2021
  • Other: Reviewer for Psychology of Sport and Exercise 2021
  • Other: Reviewer for Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health 2021

  • Sociology PhD June 25 2020
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Education in Learning and Teaching PGCLTHE
  • Sports Science BSc (Hons)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy FHEA

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