On Tuesday in Rio, Tyler Wright won her third event of the 2016 season, reclaiming the top spot on the rankings from Courtney Conlogue and effectively running away with an early lead in the title race. While Wright has always been a serious threat on the women's Championship Tour, her focus on winning is new. At the start of the year she put her money where her proverbial mouth was and started working with Glenn "Micro" Hall, CT surfer-turned-coach.
It's working: After taking down the field in Rio, Micro discussed his approach to coaching the current World No. 1, what surprised him when they got started and why he thinks it's going so well.
WSL: What has your work with Tyler consisted of?
GH: It's a holistic approach, really. She's feeling good, mentally, and her body's in good shape. Her strategy's solid, and then post-event wrap-ups. Just a whole approach to everything. I think that creates a better relationship and more trust when we put a heat plan together. And on her end, she wants to succeed, so she's completely willing to take on everything I want to give her. It's a perfect balance when someone wants to learn and you really want them to learn.
WSL: More specifically, what does a typical day look like?
GH: It's make sure the boxes are ticked. You can be fit and healthy and have the right boards but if you're not surfing the comp site and getting your landmarks down and surfing on the different tides, and then sitting down and watching the heats, you're missing a piece.
So, ticking all the boxes that are actually going to help you win the heat. That's something that Tyler hadn't done in the past, so I guide her through her preparation. That includes getting to the beach and surfing the right boards at the right times and the right spots at the right time, so that when it comes to a heat all the things we're talking about are not fresh and new, they're a refresh of what we've gone over.
WSL: How different is this approach from what Tyler was doing before you two started working together?
GH: I always thought of her as a really competitive surfer. I went into the job thinking it would be about getting an extra 10 percent out of her. But it was surprising that all she ever did was just surf. And in a comp, she'd paddle out, just put a rashie on and if she won, she won. I thought it was cool that she could get that close to a world title with just that. But it was also cool that that's how much she had to learn. That you're a surfer with talent, that's one thing, but when you put in the work in as well and do all the right things, you're chances are that much better.
WSL: She has talked a lot about how her mindset has changed with respect to competition. How would you describe that evolution?
GH: Her mindset was just enjoying the surfing and never taking it too seriously. But when I came in, she was impressed that I wanted her to really enjoy the surfing, too. I want her to enjoy the whole process of preparing and surfing heats. And if you've ticked all the boxes then you can enjoy it, and that's where I think some coaches are strict and too hard on them and you don't get to enjoy it. But I think if you do it the right way, you can. The balance is key.