My name is John P. Mills and I am a Lecturer in Sport Psychology and Coaching at the University of Essex in the UK. I achieved a PhD from the University of Birmingham in 2015 and a degree in Psychology and Childhood Studies from the University of Suffolk in 2011. I am a British Psychological Society Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) and member of the Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology. I am also an avid campaigner for changes in the academic publishing industry and in 2017, I founded SportRχiv: the World’s first open access subject repository for Sport, Exercise, Performance, and Health Research.

My research specialisms are leadership ethics and moral development, while my primary methodological expertise lies in the indirect assessment of bias (i.e., Implicit Social Cognition). My research currently focuses on how to best support coaches and sports organisations to develop their players both as athletes and people. However, I also conduct research that examines attitudes towards prohibited forms of performance enhancement, how biases affect the selection and recruitment of both athletes and coaches, and how identity influences behaviour.

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to receive support from a range of funding agencies and charitable organisations. These include the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the British Academy/Leverhulme, Make It Happen Foundation, The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and others. In addition to financial support, the following organisations have supported my research by providing access to members or data: The League Managers Association (LMA), Sports Interactive Games, and Kick it Out.

The manuscripts generated through this support and my publications more broadly can be found here and a full list of my publications can be found at the bottom of this page. Some of the work I am proudest of can be found here (Development and initial validation of an indirect measure of transformational leadership integrity) and here (Advancing leadership in sport: Time to ‘actually’ take the blinkers off?). My work has also been featured by a range of media outlets including The Times, iNews, BBC News, BBC World Service, and ITV News. You can access my University of Essex profile here, which has access to more of my publications, teaching experience, and public engagement work.

Potential collaborators and PhD candidates looking to join either the research group I lead (i.e., Youth Development Through Sport at the University of Essex) or the Lab I Co-Founded with Dr Ian Boardley at the University of Birmingham (i.e., the Performance Enhancement Lab) can contact me here or on Twitter (@jpmillsphd). I am also happy to put potential PhD candidates in contact with my current/former postgraduate students so you can get an idea of how I work.

Outside of academia, I have worked for a range of Premier League and professional football clubs, sports organisations, charities, schools and colleges. During my ten plus years of working as an academy, community, and schools football coach, player development officer, multi-sports coach, and teaching assistant I have always followed the basic mantra that our role as coaches is to maximise the potential of our athletes in terms of their development both inside and outside of sport. I currently work with the players and coaching staff at three English Football League academies and one charity examining everything from talent identification, leadership in sport and coaching efficacy, through to character and life skill development. However, I would like to do more. I am passionate about improving the lives and opportunities of children, adolescents and young people, so if you work for an organisation that shares my mission — be it in sport or elsewhere  — please get in touch. I often have resources available (e.g., access to money, students, or both) and if I believe I can support your organisation or project, I will do my utmost to find a way to make time to help.


Mills, John P; Boardley, Ian; Olton, Alexandria

Development and validation of indirect measures of athletes' attitudes towards controlled and uncontrolled forms of performance enhancement in sport Journal Article

Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 40 , pp. 14-15, 2018.

Links | BibTeX

Mills, John P; Ing, Charles; Markham, Tom; Guppy, Fergus

It is not Black and White: A comparison of skin tone by playing position in the Premier League and English football Journal Article

International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 13 (3), pp. 398-404, 2018.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Boardley, Ian D; Smith, Alan L; Mills, John; Grix, Jonathan; Wynne, Ceri; Wilkins, Luke

Development of moral disengagement and self-regulatory efficacy assessments relevant to doping in sport and exercise Journal Article

Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 36 , pp. 57–70, 2018.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Ing, Charles; Mills, John P

‘Why would you referee?’: An auto ethnographic account of a football official Journal Article

SportRχiv, 2018.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX


Mills, John P; Boardley, Ian D

Advancing leadership in sport: Time to 'actually' take the blinkers off? Journal Article

Sports Medicine, 47 (3), pp. 565–570, 2017.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Mills, John P; Boardley, Ian D

Development and initial validation of an indirect measure of transformational leadership integrity Journal Article

Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 32 , pp. 34–46, 2017.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Mills, John P

When the Managerial Merry-go-round Stops: A Case Study of how Disconfirming Experiences Affect the Identities of Expert Football Managers Journal Article

PsyArXiv, 2017.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Mills, John P; Boardley, Ian

Response to: Cruickshank and Collins (2017)‘Response to Mills and Boardley “Advancing leadership in sport: time to ‘actually’take off the blinkers?”’ Journal Article

SportRχiv , 2017.

Links | BibTeX

Boardley, Ian D; Smith, Alan L; Mills, John P; Grix, Jonathan; Wynne, Ceri

Empathic and Self-Regulatory Processes Governing Doping Behavior Journal Article

Frontiers in psychology, 8 , pp. 1495, 2017.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Ing, Charles; Mills, John P

‘Hey, look at me’: An auto ethnographic account of experiencing ADHD symptoms within sport Journal Article

Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, pp. 1–10, 2017.



Mills, John P; Boardley, Ian D

Expert Premier League soccer managers’ use of transformational leadership behaviours and attitude towards sport integrity: An intrinsic case study Journal Article

International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 11 (3), pp. 382–394, 2016.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Mills, John P; Boardley, Ian D

Development and initial validation of an indirect measure of automatic transformational leader integrity Inproceedings




Mills, John P

An [AUTO] ethnographic account of constructing, deconstructing, and partially reconstructing a coaching identity Journal Article

Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health, 7 (5), pp. 606–619, 2015.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Mills, JP

A Review of “Social Psychology in Sport & Exercise: Linking Theory to Practice” Journal Article

Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 6 (2), pp. 121–122, 2015.


Mills, J P

Transformational leader integrity: an investigation of coach social cognition PhD Thesis

University of Birmingham, 2015.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

SportRχiv Journal Club

The new semester is upon us already and although I had hoped to post this sooner, I’m behind schedule. Apologies — but you know how it is! Anyway, this year I will be starting a monthly SportRχiv Journal Club (or #SportRxivJC if you’re twitter savvy) with my Level 5 and Masters students. The aim of the Journal Club is to engage with and critically evaluate research. Nothing new there. However, what is new is that the Journal Club will be based solely on preprints. Furthermore, the feedback generated will be posted here and the authors sent a link to the comments.

Although the idea of a Journal Club is as old as the academe itself, the idea of students — potentially from across the globe — reviewing pre-peer reviewed work (or preprints) is not. Although Journal Clubs have fallen a bit out of favour within most of the institutions I have worked at recent years, I am hopeful that this new format will be more engaging for the following reasons:

  1. By reviewing pre-published work the students will have the ability actually influence and (hopefully) improve the standard of research in our field. From prior discussions, this is one of the main reasons for disengagement in traditional Journal Clubs. Students feel like their comments are pointless as the horse has already bolted from the metaphorical stable.

2. It encourages a deeper level of engagement with research methods, which in many institutions, is sadly lacking.

3. Everyone can access preprints from home. It may be a minor point, but obstacles are obstacles. If you want students to engage in a task, reduce the hoops people have to jump through. Further, by basing the club on this format, we allow students from around the world to get involved and not just those privileged with wide reaching institutional journal subscriptions.

4. As the feedback has a more concrete value, I am hopeful that authors may take the time to video call into sessions to discuss the feedback generated too. We live in a largely connected world and through the power of the internet can connect interested students and academics to have in-depth debates over a piece of work.

5. It’s pretty cool to be part of an emerging movement. Students have always led the way in taking action where they see injustice and may see their respective Journal Club as more than just examining a research, they may feel connected to their peers and inspired to knockdown the paywalls that slow down the advancement of science. Okay, most won’t care, but a couple will and who knows what they may go on to achieve.

If you would like to get involved, all you need to do is drop me an email (john@sportrxiv.org) to gain access to this page, organise a time to run your club (if you’re like me, this will most likely be alongside or as part of your second year research methods module), nominate a student to organise which preprints the group/class will review and collate the comments (you can use the shared project’s public OSF wiki section or if that seems too technical, any form of cloud based doc would work), and post them here. By working together, I am hoping to make it easier for authors to reach the maximum number of students in the least amount of time and to create a central resource for comments that is community led.