J-Bay Open

Pit Crew: Hall's Balance Between Coach, Competitor

Glenn "Micro" Hall (IRL) has been busy lately. In addition to competing full time on the 2015 Championship Tour (CT), Hall has been playing cornerman to fellow CT competitors Sage Erickson (USA) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS) (also known as Wilko). Hall's enterprise is for-profit, but he says he gets a lot more out of it than money. During the J-Bay Open, he opened up about teaching the elite, balancing his career and coming up against one of his pupils in Round 1.

Hall vs. His Student vs. Slater
Kelly Slater, Matt Wilkinson and Glenn Hall continue the action in the Round 1 wave-to-wave recap.

World Surf League (WSL): What led you to coaching?
Glenn Hall: I got into it a while ago with the groms back at home with a lot of potential. They're good kids so I just tried to help them improve and just stay on the right path toward achieving their goals. They're obviously good surfers in the water but then out of the water there's a lot to learn as well, like keeping a good head on your shoulders. That's how it started and then obviously it's evolved from there to bigger and better roles.

WSL: How did it come about that you started coaching Wilko?
GH: We've been traveling a lot together. We've been good friends forever since we grew up in the same area so we already had the relationship. We know each other so it wasn't like trying to find someone new in his corner, but finding that awkward balance between being friends and having a coaching relationship.

Wilko had a reality check since he almost fell off Tour.

Wilko had a reality check since he almost fell off Tour a couple years and he knows he's a lot better than that and obviously I do too. I had a little chat with him and told him, "Hey, you're better than that." He thought it was probably a good time to change his ways.

WSL: Does he ever try to take advantage of the fact that you're good friends? Does he push back?
GH: Wilko's really into it. He knows when I say, "Come on, let's go," he has to do something. He never backchats. He knows when it's time to go and listen. And it's good for me because I don't want to make it awkward. We've always been good mates and I said that from day one. I said, "The one thing I don't want to change is our friendship." We're both going into a role where you kind of have to wing it along the way and one thing I said was that we're going to stay good mates to the end of it all.

Hall on Injury, Fatherhood, Fiji
Glenn Hall opens up about his injury at the 2013 Fiji Pro and his now-famous heat against Gabriel Medina on the Gold Coast.

WSL: What sort of advice do you give your pupils?
GH: As a professional surfer, one thing I'm really big on is balance. If you're going too far with the training every day and get too serious you might lose the fun in it and if you're having too much fun you're not going to do all the little things and you're not going to achieve as high as you can.

The other thing is to And surround yourself with good people. You're on the road a big chunk of the year so if you're uncomfortable with the people you're with you're going to end up counting down the days until you can go home. What we do, you have to adapt to being on the road. Over the years I've seen guys either with a crew that's going to bring them down, or they're miserable on tour and it's just a downward spiral from there.

[We found] that awkward balance between being friends and having a coaching relationship.

WSL: What do you get out of being a coach?
GH: When I don't have a sponsor it helps me get by financially, but I really enjoy it too. I have a passion for coaching and learning ways to improve. It keeps my mind on the game.

When the coaching came around I felt like I was benefitting from it as well. I look at things a bit closer because I've got someone else I'm giving the info to. It's a weird way to be but it's kinda of how it's turned out. When I'm thinking of things for Wilko I'm also thinking about them for myself.

WSL: Keeping any secrets to give yourself an edge?
GH: Nah. I can't have someone paying me and then not tell them everything.

Catch Hall, Wilko and the rest of the men's elite Tour in action at the J-Bay Open LIVE daily through July 19 here and on the WSL App.