James Bell

MSc Sport & Exercise Psychology
PhD Sport Psychology

Graduated PhD July 2013

Since graduating from my PhD, I have held three different jobs in elite sport. Initially I was offered a position as a performance psychologist with the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), principally working in their development programs along the England Cricket pathway. This role was a direct result of the work I had done at SHES as the PhD I studied for was funded by the ECB and the role as performance psychologist was created based on the research and applied work I had fulfilled for the ECB from 2008-2012. This work focused on (I) identifying the personality characteristics of mentally toughen cricketers, and (ii) developing a mental toughness development program for elite young cricketers. These studies were published in peer-reviewed journals and the basic tenets of the mental toughness intervention are still being used to this day as part of the England Cricket pathway.

Since 2013, I have held a position with the Cleveland Browns as their Director of Psychological Services, which involved providing psychological support to more than 90 professional athletes and 20 coaches. I was also crucially involved in the identification, screening and selection of players in the 2013 and 2014 NFL Drafts. The work I did at SHES was integral to firstly securing the position and secondly providing me with the skills and experiences to succeed in the role. In truth, the psychological practices in the NFL are under-developed and my understanding and appreciation of best practice in the field (gathered from my time at SHES) was incredibly helpful when embedding new ideas in the NFL.

Most recently, I have started a new role as National Lead Psychologist for the RFU. Here I am responsible for developing a team of World Leading psychologists who can support the England Rugby teams (Men’s 15s, Women’s 15s, Men’s 7s, Women’s 7s, U-20, U-18).  I am also responsible for reviewing and ultimately enhancing psychological practice across the rugby landscape based on the current evidence in the field. Once again my background as a researcher at SHES and the skills I developed there were crucial to me securing the position as the RFU were looking for someone with a research pedigree in addition to applied experiences to ensure the development of psychology across the rugby landscape was based on cutting edge research and current thinking in the world of psychology.