Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung and world renowned Sport Scientist and Performance Coach, Dr Sherylle Calder are all set for a winning combination during the 2015 cycling season. ‘Decision-making starts with the eyes’ – will be the common principal augmenting these two great organisations.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung recently received a wild card invitation to the 102nd Le Tour de France, starting on July 4th, 2015. In the run-on to the toughest sporting event on earth, Calder will assist South Africa’s first cycling team to participate on this stage with her EyeGym™ programme – a comprehensive visual performance training system designed to incorporate field- and computer-based exercises that ultimately lead to better decision-making in unpredictable environments and situations.
“We’re in the business of changing people’s lives,” Calder says. “My team and I have been blessed to be able to help sporting stars reach great heights, on many occasions becoming the best players or teams in the world. We are so excited to get Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung onto the EyeGym™ programme.”
“Some African cyclists have had an impact on the Tour de France. Robbie Hunter comes to mind, as does Kenya-born and South Africa-educated Chris Froome, who won the Tour in 2013. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung is the first South African team to be invited to the Tour de France, and we would like to help this team establish itself just as Hunter and Froome did as individuals. It is a proud moment to be associated with this historic team.”
The premise of Calder’s work is that decision-making can be improved if athletes improve their sport-specific – and visual skills in combination with the visual system: “In layman’s terms we help people make better use of their visual system. Not just through their eyes, but their cognitive processes. If you train and improve your sport-specific skills alone, you will not be able to attain the same heights as when you also train yourself to receive and process more visual information.”
“By improving the quality of your brain’s visual input, you give it a greater shot at better decision-making and ultimately at what sports coaches love to call better ‘execution’. This process becomes quicker and consistently more reliable if you continuously train all these elements – irrespective of whether you’re a rugby player, a cricketer, tennis player, Formula One driver or a cyclist.”
It is for this reason that Dr Carol Austin, Head of Performance Support and Medical for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, first approached Calder and her team at EyeGym™.
“We’re excited about our partnership with EyeGym™,” says Austin. “This innovative programme offers a new dimension to our approach of developing athletes. While training and racing, our athletes continuously respond to high speed visual input. Whether they’re participating in the final kilometers of a technical bunch sprint leadout, or descending the Alpes at high speed in treacherous weather, the quality and speed of their visual perception, processing and response determines results. By training visual skills we expect to see improvements in individual and team performances, as well as health through crash avoidance.”