Sue L. McPherson

Department of Physical Therapy
Professor of Physical Therapy

Sue McPherson

Phone: 828-227-2287
Office Address: HHSB 242


  • Ph.D., Louisiana State University, 1987
  • M.Ed., Georgia Southern University, 1978
  • B.S., Georgia Southern University, 1977


Recent Refereed Publications

• McPherson, S. L., & Kernodle, M. W. (2007). Mapping two new points on the tennis expertise continuum: Tactical skills of adult advanced beginners and entry-level professionals during competition. Journal of Sports Sciences, 25, 945 – 959.

• McPherson, S. L. (2008). Tactics: Using knowledge to enhance performance. In D. Farrow, J.Baker, & C. MacMahon (Eds.), Developing Elite Sports Performers: Lessons from Theory and Practice (pp. 155-171). London: Routledge.

• McPherson, S. L., & MacMahon, C. (2009). How baseball players prepare to bat: Tactical knowledge as a mediator of expert performance in baseball. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 30, 755-778.

• MacMahon, C., & McPherson, S. L. (2009) Knowledge base as a mechanism for perceptual-cognitive tasks: Skill is in the details! International Journal of Sport Psychology, 40, 565-579.


Recent refereed presentations and abstract publications

• McPherson, S L., & MacMahon, C. (2009). Do players’ problem representations regarding batting preparation reflect greater use of metacognitive and sport-specific strategies with more task-specific practice. Presented at North American Society for the Psychology of  Sport and Physical Activity, June, Austin, TX.  Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 31S, 87-88.

• McPherson, S. L., & MacMahon, C. (2009). Expertise differences in problem representations of umpires, players, and nonplayers regarding the ball/strike decision in baseball umpiring. Presented at North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity, June, Austin, TX. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 31S, 88.

• Watson, T., McPherson, S. L., Blankenship, J., & Lenk, L. (2009). Transversus abdominis muscle activation during functional tasks: Implications for the practitioner dealing with spinal stabilization. Presented at American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists, October, Washington, DC.  Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy, 17, E101.

• McPherson S. L., & Watson T. (2010). Abdominal drawing in maneuver training in healthy young adults using ultrasound imaging: Does the ability to activate the transversus abdominus in a supine position transfer to standing positions involving lifting and reaching tasks? Presented at North American Society of Sport and Physical Activity, June, Tucson, AZ. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 32S,87-88.

• Watson, T., & McPherson, S. L. (2010). ADIM training for loaded functional tasks: Healthy adults maintain similar levels of motor control and intrinsic motivation- a longitudinal study. To be presented at The 7th Interdisciplinary World Congress on Low Back & Pelvic Pain, November, Los Angeles, CA.

• Wilson, C., Robinson, R., Glass S., Nantz, D., Parker, L., Spevak, M., & McPherson, S. (2011). Observing a learning rather than a perfect model expedited acquisition of patient handling and bed mobility skills. To be presented at American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting (Education Section), February, New Orleans, LA.

• McPherson, S., Watson, T., Clark, A., Sannem, S., & Clark, J. (2011). Does training of transversus abdominus activation in supine position transfer to functional tasks?" To be presented at American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting (Orthopaedics Section), February, New Orleans, LA.


Research Interests:

• Examining the impact of Transversus Abdominal Training with real-time ultrasound imaging as feedback on TrA activation during functional tasks (with Dr. Todd Watson).

• Examining the interplay of “knowing and doing” across the lifespan in rehabilitation and sport contexts. I am currently developing theory and instructional strategies designed to enhance performance and learning of functional and sport skills. I use verbal reports as data to examine long-term memory constructs utilized by individuals during task performances.  

• Examining the impact of service-learning programs in rehabilitation science on organizers’ and participants’ knowledge and skills. These service-learning projects are typically designed to enhance safety and injury prevention of individuals when performing motor skills. 


Dr. McPherson joined the Department of Physical Therapy in fall 1999 as associate professor in motor behavior. Prior to this appointment, she was director of the graduate program in Health and Human Performance at WCU (1992-1999). She also was former director of the Motor Behavior Laboratory at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, from 1988 to 1992. Currently, she teaches Motor Behavior (PT 661) and Scientific Inquiry courses (PT 641, PT 642, PT 643, PT 644) in the Physical Therapy Department and collaborates with faculty and MPT students on research and service learning projects. Sue also serves as a research consultant for faculty in the College of Health and Human Sciences. Please contact her via email ( regarding any of your research needs. Sue has received several awards for her line of research including the Alumni Association Outstanding Dissertation Award (1987) in the College of Education of LSU.  Also, in 2005 she was invited by the Research Consortium of the American Alliance of Health and Physical Education (AAHPERD) to deliver the “Scholar Lecture” summarizing her work.  Further, she has delivered several national and international presentations and has written several data based chapters and research articles. She is also a manuscript reviewer for several research journals in motor behavior. Her research endeavors include new theory regarding long-term memory constructs and methods for capturing children’s and adults’ thoughts and behaviors in actual and simulated performance contexts. She along with Karen French, University of South Carolina, were recently recognized as pioneers for their work utilizing verbal reports as data for examining expertise in motor domains. In addition, Dr. McPherson has played an active role in several national societies such as serving as chair of the Motor Development and Learning Academy for AAHPERD and has served on several committees for the North American Society of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA). Finally, she has made numerous national presentations with several faculty and students in the Department of Physical Therapy at the Combined Sections Meeting for the American Physical Therapy Association. Dr. McPherson resides in Asheville, NC, and her hobbies include golf, tennis, and scuba diving.







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