With the 6 Nations around the corner, it is very interesting to see Eddie Jones bring back Dr Sherylle Calder - a vision specialist - who worked with Sir Clive Woodward's World Cup winning team.

Different visual skills were  taught back in 2003 including peripheral awareness skills - one famous technique was to put words and numbers on signs around Twickenham when the team was training and playing. Vision specialists are used by many sports including football - Manchester United also had a well known vision specialist Gail Stephenson who sadly died several years ago but who famously convinced Alex Ferguson to get rid of the drab grey kit that players couldn't pick out when playing. 

Peripheral awareness and other visual skills can affect reading as much as sport - for example, a narrow field of attention can make it difficult for children to move from one line of reading to the next.

Mark Mackey has a Diploma Sports Vision - his project for the diploma included screening the eyes of the Ulster Academy Rugby players almost ten years ago. Richard Mackey runs a vision therapy practice including dyslexia dn learning difficulties at our Holywood Arches (Newtownards Road, Belfast) practice.

There are many other vision skills that can be worked on in rugby. Here are a few exercises that you can try when you're next at practice:



  • Bent knees, feet ± shoulder width apart and hands on knees

  • When ball falls, move foot below the ball, hands will follow – do not lunge at the ball without moving the feet

  • When ball drops, move foot quickly under ball, and hand will follow – do not lunge at ball without moving feet

  • 20 throws either hand


 Rugby Sports vision 1



  • Bent knees, feet ± shoulder width apart

  • Soft hands; bring balls toward body

  • 1min right hand to left hand, left hand to right hand

  • 1 min crossover

  • 1 min both balls out of hand


Rugby Sports vision 2



  • Place 4 cones 6m apart (in box form)

  • Subject stands in a square of 4 cones

  • The coach throws the ball anywhere in the box for the subject to catch or field

  • Ball is returned to the coach, who throws the second ball elsewhere in the square

  • Sequence continues for 20sec, and then they change


Rugby Sports vision 3



  • One player will lie down in push-up position, stomach flat on the ground and face down (DON’T LOOK AT THE THROWER)

  • On the word “YES” the player jumps up and try to catch the ball

  • The thrower must try and challenge the player, throw the ball wide so that the team-mate can reach for the ball

  • Player who is doing this exercise first, must be on his/her feet when trying to catch the ball 




  • Place 2 cones ± 6m apart (this will depend upon the age of your team)

  • Shuffle side to side between the cones; touch the ground at each cone.

  • Look forward, so back is straight

  • Bend knees to go down or to catch ball

  • Once ball is caught, continue shuffling side to side

  • Subject shuffles side to side between cones

  • Coach throws ball to subject at any time

  • Ball thrown back to coach and subject keeps shuffling

Rugby Sports vision 5


  For more information about Sports Vision or Vision Therapy, please give us a call or email us.


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