Dr Sherylle Calder is a sports scientist and coach from South Africa who has been having a huge impact on the world of elite sport…yet very few have heard the name. ?In the first of our interviews for 2018, Charlotte Beckett, a graduate student from the UK interviewed Sherylle exclusively for the FCN to share with you an aspect of coaching that perhaps many of us have been neglecting….
She was a vital part of the 2003 England Rugby world cup victory, has coached a wide range of professional sports from golf to formula one and is the world’s leading Sport Scientist, so why have so few of us heard of Dr Sherylle Calder Her visual intelligence training has, despite its great success within high profile sport coaching, mainly passed under the radar and as an asset to sport for decades this write up on Dr Calder seems long overdue. However, Dr Calder’s modest outlook and revolutionary work is both fascinating and inspiring, not to mention eye opening.
So what exactly are we looking at?
Dr Calder is the twitter proclaimed Eye Lady, founder of EyeGym and the first Sport Scientist to be awarded a Doctorate in visual motor performance. She is a Scientist who works on not only visual performance skills but also has developed ways of training the process and output skills, improving various visual skills from peripheral awareness to judgment. Training elite athletes eyes and brain, Dr Calder ultimately trains players to make faster and smarter decisions. Dr Calder believes training the eyes and brain to be just as important as training any other part of the body. Besides Dr Calder’s obvious success, it is the origins of such a unique coaching platform that is perhaps the most amazing. Dr Calder explains humbly that the science of visual intelligence training is not something you would read in a book or learn at university but instead is a science that she developed herself.
From playground to PHD
As a child, Sherylle Calder was often questioning; why does someone do that and how do you judge that, constantly playing games and challenging her skills, fascinated by how things worked. This, combined with her move to Europe to play hockey, escaping an isolated South Africa at the time, allowed her to realise that she did and perceived things differently but most importantly she trained differently as an athlete. The constant remarks whilst playing hockey of, how did you do that or how did you see that prompted Calder to stop competing and start her PHD research to prove her unique considerations can impact performance. Due to this unique evolution, there remain no others undertaking the same line of work as her and aside from her own research writings, you still cannot study visual intelligence training as an official science. Dr Calder, committed to visual intelligence training as a crucial part in performance, dreams of it becoming an official science. However, since this beginning Calder’s science has progressed and evolved itself, largely thanks to technology, allowing Dr Calder to improve her training programme and establish EyeGym whereby Calder can track and alter a training programme online and clients can train independently.
Wins, world cups and world class decision making
Since her research,Dr Calder has worked with just about every line of sport from dog agility to yachting, creating transferable computer programmes that simulate what is done during play. Every single sport and individual, according to Dr Calder, needs EyeGym training; she suggests that if you use your eyes for a sport (and not just ball sports) you need to improve that ability. Dr Calder speaks highly of the clubs, individuals and events she has worked with or been to over the years. With the 2003 England Rugby World cup team, whom she described as an amazing group together, she started to see changes and improvements instantaneously. Dr Calder was then able to build upon this progress, improving their performance right up until their victory in the final against Australia. For Calder, anyone she works with who improves their performance is a proud achievement but she remembers one of her most amazing experiences as working with professional golfer Ernie Els. Calder helped take Els from a real low with no support around him and rumours of giving up golf, to winning a major in just six months. It is stories like these that signify just how crucial Calder’s work is and life changing to many athletes. Currently, Dr Calder is working with the England Rugby team, Formula one drivers, NFL team and many others.
If you thought this success story could not go any further, Dr Calder continues to work outside the realm of professional athletes. Her online programme, EyeGym is available to children, academics and business people with great success in all three. Dr Calder works with a lot of individuals, stressing she gains just as much out of a young kid improving their reading skills and performance as she does from Jonny Wilkinson scoring a drop goal in a world cup final. Dr Calder’s schools programme, EyeGym for schools, improves children?s cognitive learning skills as the eyes and the brain are trained. She asserts that every kid should be doing it [the training] everyday in this digital age. Her work does not just involve the science of training the eyes or the brain or even the body but also teaching each of the performers what to do when performing. More recently, Dr Calder has been working with premier league football referees as well as rugby and tennis umpires, as they are performers just like anyone else. The EyeGym trains the referees to make quick decisions under pressure ? to take information in quickly and accurately to limit mistakes.
Dr Sherylle Calder’s research and expertise is a ground breaking direction for sport, with incredible results. Her journey is captivating and her work central to so many athletes performance. We wish her all the best in the future and thank her for teaching us such a vital science! So now, instead of simply focusing on speed, muscle strength, agility and tactics in the gym or on the field look toward training the eyes, the brain and ultimately decision making also at EyeGym.
Visit www.eyegym.com to find out more and to sign up to visual intelligence training online.
Author: Charlotte Beckett is 22 year old English and History graduate from the University of York, England. She has always played a variety of sports, as well as captaining and coaching different teams. Being an avid traveler, Charlotte hopes to combine her love of travel and sport by becoming a sports reporter; and as a result, she has been volunteering with the FCN to produce some fantastic articles. During the Rio Olympic Games, one of her best being Female Coaches at the Olympics: a turning of tradition for Team GB
At the end of 2017, Charlotte approached us with an exciting prospect…interviewing a female coach who many may not have heard of, but who has been having a huge impact in sports performance around the world…Dr Sherylle Calder.