It’s the way you look – Dr. Sherylle Calder on MTB

I’ve long been fascinated by Dr. Calder’s methods. At first she was just “that eye doctor who helps Ernie Els”. Then we heard about all sorts of professional sports people turning to the dark arts of this medicine woman. When the the world championships and major trophies began emerging, we all wanted to know more about Sherylle Calder and her Eye Gym. #CountryCyclist was my chance.

#CC: Can you give me just the keystone of what you do and how it might impact a mountain biker? Even for dedicated sports fans, the concept of specific eye training for sports performance is radical. 
SC: Put simply, if you’re eyes are fitter, you’ll handle it better. It’s just like your body. We can teach the brain to handle visual information better. What you want here is to improve your focus. That’s what this method is trying to do, it’s broadening the focus. It might well help, but it does depend on the person.

Sherylle Calder works with scores of international athletes, including Springbok rugby stars like Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana.
Sherylle Calder works with scores of international athletes, including Springbok rugby stars like Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana.

#CC: What are the specific areas that Eye Gym would have the most important impact on for MTB? 
SC: For mountain biking, co-ordination – hand, foot, eye – comes to mind immediately. Judgment of depth is also key.

I’ve done some work with a tri-athlete who struggled with cycling route in the Tokai forest. There was one rock in particular where she had to stop and put her foot down to get past. We put her on Eye Gym for six weeks and took her back to her usual route. She improved her time significantly and didn’t have to walk at that rock. Her depth perception and focus were much improved.

Calder received acclaim for her work with Ernie Els ahead of his victory at the 2012 Open Championship.
Calder has received acclaim for her work with Ernie Els, especially ahead of his victory at the 2012 Open Championship.

#CC: I’m shortsighted, so wear contact lenses or specs while riding. Does that choice have any impact on performance as far as your work is concerned? 
SC: Well, that’s really not our focus. I work on how your brain utilises what you see, not the actual functioning of the eyes. I’d suggest whatever is comfortable for you.

Time to look at a new dimension to your training regime?

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