Sherylle Calder has worked with numerous top sporting stars throughout the years
The South African, who last worked with England during the Clive Woodward era, claims there has been a global drop-off, which she blames on the obsession with the small screen.
While she will not be imposing a blanket ban on time online, she will be advising Eddie Jones’ squad to limit their use if they want to achieve their potential.
“In the modern world the ability of players to have good awareness is deteriorating by the nature of mobile phones,” she said.
“We have seen in the last five or six years, when we assess elite players in different sports, that there is a decline in skill levels. When you look at your phone, you are losing awareness. There are no eye movements happening; everything is pretty static.
“If you don’t see something, you can’t make a decision.
“We develop skills by climbing trees, walking on walls and falling off and learning all those visual motor skills which people aren’t doing any more. Young kids spend a lot of time on mobile phones so those instinctive natural skills are disappearing.
Eddie Jones has hired Sherylle Calder to boost his side's chances of 6 Nations glory
“We can’t stop players using them but we will teach them good behaviours. We’ve got time until 2019. That is our aim.”
Telling off the children for too much phone time might seem like the perfect way to kill a new relationship in its tracks. Calder, though, believes that a combination of her impressive client list – which recently included Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill – and the immediate benefits she promises will win them over as she begins her work at their pre-Six Nations training camp in Portugal today.
She will initially just be subjecting England’s backline to her methods – which involve a combination of training-field and, paradoxically, computer work – but will eventually take in the whole squad.
“The main priority will be to make sure the players’ skill levels are absolutely immaculate so we’re going to work on skills,” she said.
“We will be working really hard on awareness because awareness makes you make effective decisions under pressure.
“We don’t only train the eye movements, the ability to judge and the ability to recognise early, we also train the brain, which is really a muscle. That has an impact on what you see, what you process and how you respond on the field.
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“We can train at a level way higher than you experience on the field. It is the same as if a player needs strength for rugby. You aren’t just going to do drills on the field to develop that strength, you are going to go into the gym and use that strength on the field.
“We believe that if we upskill every player he’ll be able to handle whatever’s thrown at him on the field.
“We’ve got until the World Cup. Different players improve at different levels but we can make the good ones better as well.
“As soon as they feel the difference they know it makes a difference and you can feel it pretty quickly. They will feel it in time for the Six Nations.”
England will be sharing Calder’s expertise with Ernie Els, who has re-hired her after having her in his corner when he won the 2012 Open, and Mercedes Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas.
“We’ve created a training programme for him where, an hour before he gets in the car, he gets ready to perform,” she said.
“We prepare the rest of the body to perform, but the eyes and the brain, the response and decision-making system, we just put by the side. In F1, you can imagine how crucial that is.”
The action unfolds more slowly on a rugby pitch but Jones, who employed Calder in Japan during his spell coaching Suntory, clearly feels he has pulled a fast one on England’s Six Nations rivals in hiring from left field again.