Professor Sophia Jowett

PhD, MSc, PGCE, BSc, CPsychol, AFBPsS

  • Professor of Psychology

Sophia Jowett completed a PhD degree at the University of Exeter (2001) and, before that, a PGCE degree at Wolverhampton University, MSc degree at Loughborough University (1995) and BSc degree at the University of Athens (1991). She is an Associate Fellow and Chartered Psychologist of the British Psychological Society.

Her research work mainly revolves around interpersonal relationships in sport with an emphasis on coaching relationships. More recently this work has started to make an impact on other life domains including work (business, organisations) and education (primary, secondary schools). This research is orientated towards “making a difference” through generating knowledge and understanding of the effectiveness of quality relationships.

Professor Sophia Jowett leads, and teaches on, the following module:

  • The Psychology of the Coach-Athlete Relationship (MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology)

She also contributes to other modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Sophia supervises research projects at undergraduate (BSc) and postgraduate (MSc, Mphil, and PhD) levels.

Book: SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY IN SPORT by S. Jowett & D. Lavallee. 

Note: The second Edition of Social Psychology in Sport by L. Davis, R. Keegan and S. Jowett (Editors) is due out in 2023.


Sophia Jowett has developed a world-leading research programme in interpersonal relationships, communication and leadership. The sustained excellence of her research work within the context of the coach-athlete relationship is evidenced through numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, conference presentations and online presentations (including webinars and podcasts).

In May 2012, the Journal of Coaching Education published an article entitled “Mapping the world of coaching science: A citation network analysis” and ranked sports coaching research work that Dr Jowett has led over the past 10 years as 2nd worldwide.

Sources of Research Funding

  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Nuffield Foundation
  • British Academy
  • GB Sasakawa Foundation
  • JF Costopoulos Foundation
  • Hellenic Olympic Committee
  • Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport
  • HSBC
  • UK Coaching
  • UK Sport
  • Coach Development Consultant at UK Sport
  • Content Champion at UK Coaching
  • Editorial Board of Sports Coaching Review
  • Scientific Committee of the ECSS

Selected keynote and invited presentations

  1. Jowett, S. (2022, February). Developing World Best Coach-Athlete Relationships. Annual Conference of the Australian Institute of Sport.
  2. Jowett, S. (2019, December). What has the coach-athlete relationship got to do with coaching? Inaugural Professorial Lecture. Loughborough University. Available here:
  3. Jowett, S. (2019, November). In Coach Leadership, Coach-Athlete Relationships Matter Most. British Canoeing – Annual Conference of Coaching and Leadership. Nottingham.
  4. Jowett, S. (2017, March). It is the quality of relationship that matters: Coaches and athletes working together for performance excellence.  2nd Sport and Fitness Conference at the Open University.
  5. Jowett, S. (2015, November). Communication: The fuel of coach-athlete relationships. Para-Coach 2 Rio Workshop. British Cycling and Sport UK.
  6. Jowett, S.(2013, July). Unleashing the power of coach-athlete relationships. World Congress of Sport Psychology, Beijing, China.
  7. Jowett, S. (2013, May).  Relational coaching in sport: Its psychological underpinnings and practical effectiveness. Annual Conference of German Sport Psychologist. Haale/Saale, Germany.
  8. Jowett, S. (2012, April).The role and significance of the coach-athlete relationship. Student BASES Conference. London.
  9. Jowett, S. (2012, March). The coach-athlete relationship: What’s in it for coaches? Professional Golfers Association Conference. Birmingham.

Dr Sophia Jowett has delivered over 100 presentations in national and international conferences including:

  • BASES, (British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences),
  • BPS (British Psychological Society),
  • FEPSAC (European Federation of Sport Psychology),
  • ISSP (International Society of Sport Psychology),
  • Pre-Olympic Conferences,
  • ECSS (European College of Sports Sciences),
  • IOC (International Olympic Committee) and
  • IARR (International Association of Relationship Research) conferences.

In 2000, she was the recipient of a sport psychology award for her presentation entitled "Outgrowing the family coach-athlete relationship: A case study" at the International Conference "Sport Psychology in the New Millennium - A dynamic research-practice perspective" held in Halmstad, Sweden.

Featured publications

  • Gosai, J., Jowett, S., & Jose Roberto Andrade Do Nascimento-Júnior (2021 – available online) When leadership, relationships and psychological safety promote flourishing in sport and life. Sports Coaching Review, DOI: 10.1080/21640629.2021.1936960
  • Wachsmuth, S., Jowett, S., & Harwood, C.G. (2022) Third party interventions in coach-athlete conflict: Can sport psychology practitioners offer the necessary support?, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 34, 1, 178-203, DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2020.1723737
  • Felton, L., Jowett, S., Begg, C., & Zhong, X. (2021). A multistudy examination of the complementarity dimension of the coach–athlete relationship. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 10(1), 27–42.
  • Davis, L., Jowett, S., & Tafvelin, S. (2019). Communication as the fuel for quality coach-athlete relationships: A two-study mediation and longitudinal approach. Frontiers in Psychology, 
  • Wachsmuth, S., Jowett, S., & Harwood, C. G. (2018). Managing conflict in coach—athlete relationships. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 7(4), 371-391. 
  • Felton, L., & Jowett, S. (2017). A Self-Determination Theory Perspective on Attachment, Need Satisfaction, and Well-Being  in a Sample of Athletes: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 11 (4). 304-323. 
  • Jowett, S., Bartholomew, K., Adie, J., Yang, X.S., Gustafsson, H., & Jimenez, A. (2017). Motivational processes in the coach-athlete relationship: A multi-cultural self-determination approach. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 32, 143-152. 
  • Jowett, S. (2017). Coaching Effectiveness: The Coach-Athlete Relationship at its Heart. Current Opinion in Psychology, 16, 154-158. 
  • Wachsmuth, S., Jowett, S., & Harwood, C. (2017). Conflict among athletes and their coaches: what is the theory and research so far? International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 10 (1), 84-107. 
  • Yang, X. S., Jowett, S., & Chan, D.K. (2015). Effects of the Big-Five Personality Traits on the Quality of Relationship and Satisfaction in Coach-Athlete Dyads. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Sports Sciences, 25 (4), 568-580.

In terms of enterprise, three projects are highlighted here:

  1. Tandem: Effective and successful coach-athlete relationships

    Tandem is based on extensive sport psychology research at Loughborough University. Tandem is a powerful relationship tool that assesses the quality and effectiveness of relationships between coaches and athletes.
  1. Female Coaches in Performance Sports: UK Sport's Female Coaching Leadership Programme 

    This project is designed to help increase the number of female coaches from an average 10% to 25% by Paris 2024.
  1. CARE: Coach- Athlete Relationship Enhancement is a free on-line educational programme. 

    CARE aims to raise coaches and athletes’ awareness about: (1) Coach-Athlete Relationship Quality, (2) Coach-Athlete Conflict, and (3) Coach-Athlete Communication.

    To register and find out more information: visit the NCSEM website and choose "Empowering the Athlete: The Coach-Athlete Partnership".

Course intro | Empowering the athlete: the coach-athlete partnership