Becoming the Best Coach or Mentor You Can Be 5: Sharpening Your Peripheral Vision?


Sharpening the use of peripheral vision in coaching and mentoring increases your ability to catch much of what is being communicated to you by your client.

Most of us have no trouble at all using foveal vision – you have to do it regularly to achieve those tasks that require a narrowing down of your vision. You are usually very conscious of using it when you use it. For example, when threading a needle or honing in on a particular piece of jigsaw.

Peripheral vision

. . . is something that you are probably less conscious of and which, therefore, you are at risk of not being able to use consciously as well as unconsciously to greatest effect. It does not necessarily mean that it is not well developed – although it might be. Checking this out and then further sharpening the use of peripheral vision in coaching and mentoring is crucial if you want to capture those subtle movements in your client that ‘tell’ you so much.

I can remember as a young teacher when I first became aware of how important and powerful my ability to use peripheral vision was to my work. I can still ‘see’ – in my mind’s eye – where I was standing in the school corridor and who I was speaking to at that moment of illumination. I can still hear the voice that said with incredulity – “Miss, you have eyes in the back of your head!” And yes, he was right, I had seen what a couple of boys were doing behind me when they thought they were well out of my line of sight.

However good we are

. . . at using peripheral vision it is something that you could find reducing if you don’t bring it into your consciousness and check it out regularly.

So – if sharpening the use of peripheral vision in coaching and mentoring is going to improve your ability to get a heads up for what is going on underneath the surface is there anything you can do to improve it?


It is possible to improve your ability to use peripheral vision more consciously, as well as quickly, through practice. It forms an essential part of learning in many sports including the martial arts and in activities such as juggling.

One way of testing out your peripheral vision

. . . is to ask somebody to walk towards you from behind when you are sitting still on a chair facing to the front. This gives you a quick and easy indication of how near to your direct line of sight something has to be before you can ‘see’ it.

Another way to test out, as well as increase, your ability to use peripheral vision is to do the following exercise:

  1. stand facing forward with your hands hanging down in front
  2. place one hand on top of the other with palms facing inwards
  3. keeping your head in the same position gradually raise your hands together directly in front of you until they are pointing towards the sky at the top of your field of vision
  4. while still facing forward bring each of your hands down by either side so slowly drawing a large circle – while still keeping your head facing forward, concentrate on seeing both hands
  5. as your hands come down follow them without moving your gaze so you are aware of everything inside the large circle you have drawn
  6. finish up in your starting position but with palms facing outward

So – how did you do?

It may well be that you surprised yourself and found that you could keep your hands in sight throughout the exercise. If not, then doing this regularly will increase your ability to use your peripheral vision.

As with any other activity its repetition is rewarded by it becoming internalised. This, of course, is what you want to happen in your coaching and mentoring. This will enable you to keep your focus completely on your client safe in the knowledge that you will be jogged when something of importance comes into your peripheral vision.

If you have found this blog helpful . . . please feel free to share it within your own social media networks via the floating icons on the right. More blogs in this series can be found on our website at Optimising Coaching – Blogs. You can also subscribe to our blogs by clicking this icon RSS Feed

Posted in Being the Best Coach or Mentor You Can Be, Blogs