Attending his first New Zealand Gymsports Championships as a coach, we speak to 2014 Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist and 2015 NZ MAG Champion David Bishop (Tri Star Gymnastics, about how his experience was different from being a competitor, and how being a competitor has helped his coaching.
How many National Championships did you attend as a competitor?
I’ve probably been to about 15 National Champs as an athlete.
Having been a competitor, how did you prepare your athletes for this year’s Championships?
Nationals is where most gymnasts need to be peaking to perform at their best for the year. The guys I coached worked hard in the gym; I would sometimes give them scenarios/challenges to put the pressure on them to help them when the pressure was on down at Nationals.
How did you find the pressures of watching/coaching gymnasts compared to that of competing yourself?
It was definitely a new experience for me being on the other side of things for the first time, it was great seeing things from a different perspective. For me, there is a lot less pressure as a coach compared to the gymnast. I have prepared the athletes as best I can and it’s up to them to get out there and do what they’ve been training for. I’m just there to chalk up the bars, lift them to the apparatus and give them the moral support they need.
How have your experiences as a competitor translated across to your coaching style?
My experiences as a competitor have defined how I started out as a coach and the style that I used. I always tried to relate the experiences that I went through to help the gymnast with their gymnastics. It’s helpful being able to understand how the athlete is feeling, or what they could be thinking, when going through a challenging time. As I learn and grow as a coach, my coaching style is moulding into a different shape, and it is a bit more flexible because every gymnast is different and how one athlete thinks is not the same as another athlete in the same circumstances.
What advice would you have for gymnasts who are looking at coaching?
The more good coaches we have in New Zealand, the better. Coaching is an incredibly rewarding experience, and for me, much better than sitting in an office 9-5pm every day. If you’re interested in coaching, let your club know now! If you love it, keep doing it. If you want to get better at it, ask questions and lots of them!
Finally, what was the number one experience or learning you were able to take from the 2016 NZ Gymsports Championships?
It was reinforced to me the importance of an athletes mentality in a competition. Those who are able to control their minds, were confident, determined, positive and believed in themselves performed at their best, whereas those who started to doubt their ability, or lost confidence in themselves, under performed.