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Christopher Button image 2020Professor
BSc(Hons) PhD(MMU)
Tel +64 3 479 9122
Room 1.25, 55 Union St West


Chris gained his PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2000, before working at Edinburgh University in Scotland. Chris moved to NZ in 2003. Previous roles at Otago have included the Dean of the School (2017-2021), Director of the Human Performance Centre and the Co-Director of the Lifestyles in NZ research group. As well as carrying out teaching and research, Chris has provided consultancy with several organisations providing advice on Motor Development and Skill Acquisition to the likes of NZ Ministry of Health, Water Safety NZ, Netball NZ, NZ Football, and the Boston Celtics (NBA). Chris is an Executive Committee member of the Australasian Skill Acquisition Network. He is also a Section Editor of NZ Journal of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

Chris lives in Carey's Bay, with his wife Angela and daughter Melanie. In his free time Chris coaches and plays football, he also enjoys outdoor pursuits like tramping and skiing. A keen advocate of active transport, Chris likes to cycle to and from work along the beautiful Otago Peninsula.



Dr Button's research interests include movement coordination and variability, skill learning, coaching, water safety and survival skills. He has been the recipient of several research grants from organisations such as SportNZ, ACC, and Water Safety New Zealand. Chris has published in several international peer-reviewed journals, and a common theme of this work is the application of movement science to sport within an Ecological Dynamics framework. Summaries of much of his work linking theory to practice can be found in the textbooks, 'Dynamics of Skill Acquisition' (2020: Human Kinetics, 2nd edition), 'Complex Systems in Sport' (2013: Routledge, Taylor & Francis), and 'Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition' (2016: Routledge, Taylor & Francis). See Chris' ResearchGate profile here. Chris's research has been cited over 8,000 times and his h-index is 43 (Google Scholar).

Recent research projects Chris has been involved with include:

Potential postgraduate students wishing to be supervised by Chris must be interested in applying an ecological dynamics framework to physical activity and/or sport. Please consult the University of Otago scholarships webpage to check eligibility for international and domestic student scholarships.

Postgraduate Students

Current Students

  • Brandon Rasman: The perceptuo-motor processes underpinning dynamic balance in surfers. (Enrolled from September 2018). Dr Chris Button and Dr Jon Shemmell


  • Carolina Burnay (2020): Exploring affordances for infants in aquatic environments.. Dr James Croft, Dr Chris Button, Dr Rita Cordovil & Dr David Anderson.
  • Alana Coombe (2020): Training tactical and technical skills in elite netballers. Dr Sarah-Kate Millar, Dr Chris Button and Dr Tony Oldham.
  • Jonathan Leo Ng (2019): Assessment of fundamental movement skill competency. Dr Chris Button
  • Andrew Walsh (2019): Affordance based control in rock-climbing. Dr James Croft, Dr Chris Button & Dr Ludovic Seifert.
  • Cameron Ross (2019): Tracking the physical demands of snowsport athletes. Dr Chris Button, Dr Peter Lamb & Dr Paul McAlpine.
  • Chanel Phillips (2019). A Māori approach to water safety. Dr Anne-Marie Jackson, Dr Hauiti Hakopa, & Dr Chris Button.


Burnay, C., Anderson, D. I., Button, C., & Cordovil, R. (2023). Effect of baby swimming lessons on infants’ avoidance of bodies of water. Developmental Psychobiology, 65(8), e22434. doi: 10.1002/dev.22434

Button, C., van Duijn, T., Cocker, K., Trotter-Dunn, G., & Seifert, L. (2023). Does a combined swimming pool and open water education programme for children develop adaptable water safety competencies? Journal of Sport & Exercise Science, 7(2), 18-28. doi: 10.36905/jses.2023.02.03

Ng, J. L., & Button, C. (2023). Construct validation of a general movement competence assessment utilising active video gaming technology. Frontiers in Bioengineering & Biotechnology, 11, 1094469. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2023.1094469

Santos, C., Burnay, C., Button, C., & Cordovil, R. (2023). Effects of exposure to formal aquatic activities on babies younger than 36 months: A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 20, 5610. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20085610

Walsh, A., Seifert, L., Button, C., Vial, S., & Croft, J. (2023). The effect of fatigue on climbing fluidity and hand movements. Sports Biomechanics, 1-13. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/14763141.2023.2182703

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