Keep Your Eye on the Ball – Dr. Sherylle Calder – South Africa
Dr. Sherylle Calder was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Being an athlete from a young age participating mainly in ball sports, she played her first competitive field hockey match at the age of eight. As a result she soon began to become aware of how large a role her visual and perceptual skills played in her skilled performances. As she developed into an elite hockey player, she further developed her interest in the visual concepts of elite sport. From an early age she was never given any coaching instruction regarding vision and its possible role in the visually demanding game of hockey. The sole advice received was the traditional admonitions of most coaches of ‘keep your eye on the ball’. She however experienced, and even more so at an international level, that her visual and perceptual system was ‘different’ to others and perceived that it was an important part of performance at an elite level.
It all started one day, while she was playing alongside a girl whose father watched all their games and was a member of the Olympic qualifying committee. She was told that she was the only international hockey player he had ever seen who did not run on the field. He was amazed of her ability to sense opponents as if she had eyes in the back of her head.
It was then that she realised that there might be something there. She analysed the things she did and began to work out how to put them into a training programme. That is where it all started. She had to prove it and fortunately, she did.
After she completed her schooling and her first degree at the University of the Orange Free State, she studied for her Masters’ degree at the University of Stellenbosch before registering for her Sport Science PhD under Prof Tim Noakes at the University of Cape Town. Between 1982 and 1996, she represented South Africa at Field and Indoor hockey, gaining 50 international caps since 1992. Recognition as one of the top players of her era came in 1995 when she was selected to the team comprising the top 11 players in the pre-Olympic Qualifying Hockey Tournament. Countries participating at this Tournament included Germany, Netherlands, Korea, China, Great Britain, Argentina and Canada. In 1996 she was selected for a World Invitation Select Team to help prepare the Australian Women’s hockey team for the Atlanta Olympic Games.
Her Doctoral thesis grew out of her interests in understanding the training methods and game concepts used internationally in field hockey and, especially, the role that visual skills play in the improvement of sporting performance. She developed novel visual skills training programme to enhance the capacity of players to access performance-relevant visual information during play. Her studies established that the enhancement of visual skills, using these specific training programmes, measurably improved the on-field performance of hockey players. This effect was substantially greater than any achieved by conventional coaching and training programmes.
Currently, Dr. Calder is associated with the South African Sports Science Institute at Cape Town doing what she loves to do. She has always made sure she offers quality service.
As of this writing, Dr. Calder’s new and high tech programme, EyeGym has long been recognised by the top sportsmen and women in the world, from All Black, Springbok and England rugby men, to leading other sporting teams all over the world.
About Dr. Calder
Dr Calder is regarded as the leading specialist in the field of visual skills and performance both in South African and international sport. She is the only person who holds a formal PhD in Visual Performance Skills Training.
Inspiring Story – Dr. Sherylle Calder – South Africa
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