SA women’s hockey head coach Giles Bonnet has enlisted the aid of world renowned visual skills coach Dr Sherylle Calder in a bid to give the national squad that vital extra edge in a sport where the margin between victory and defeat is becoming increasingly small.
ÔÇ£We are busy with getting the players to make better decisions,ÔÇØ said Bonnet. ÔÇ£In making better decisions the players need to see the opportunity that presents itself on the field, which requires improving their vision and spatial awareness. These are all trained functions and Sherylle, who I worked with while in charge of the Belgium men’s team six years ago, will assist the players to make better decisions and judgment calls.ÔÇØ
Calder, based at the Institute of Sport Science in Newlands, Cape Town, certainly has the pedigree to deliver the goods. A former SA hockey captain, Calder developed a world first with her revolutionary EyeGym for Sport, which has brought success to multiple stars and has helped deliver Rugby World Cups to England (2003) and the Springboks (2007), a Major golf tournament to 2012 British Open winner Ernie Els, and the 2012 Olympic Games women’s hockey gold medal to Holland.
EyeGym, which is not elite sport specific and has been adapted to enhance visual skills performance in corporates as well as in the classroom and school sports field, is about understanding the link between what the eyes see and sending the right message to the brain, and among other things Calder’s on-field training and leading-edge software gives sportsmen and women quicker response time, better peripheral awareness, improved concentration, focus and tactical awareness, as well as better technical, passing and ball-striking skills.
ÔÇ£Any small edge in international sport is vital and sets you apart from the others,ÔÇØ said Calder.┬áÔÇ£With the Dutch national women’s team that won London 2012 Olympic gold we worked with all the players in the EyeGym as well as on the field, improving visual motor performance and ultimately impacting decision making. We also identified certain aspects/players in the team that needed specifics and focused on these and I hope to do the same with the SA women’s team.ÔÇØ
The SA players are looked at individually, as well as in team lines such as defence, and midfield, and visual skills will be assessed before starting the programme, which will run from now until the 2014 Hockey World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.