Challenging year has benefits: Willis

by Val Febbo

Bowls Australia’s (BA) National Coach Gary Willis says that while 2021 has posed significant challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the high performance coaching staff have worked diligently to provide a program to develop athletes.

With many High Performance athletes stuck in lockdown, Willis, along with assistant Karen Murphy OAM and the state Pathways Coaches, have been discussing mental wellbeing and how their players can stay mentally strong through another season of adversity and lack of events.

Speaking on BA’s ‘Without Bias‘ radio program, the 2018 Coach of the Year said has been focused on what he and the players can control throughout their time away from the green, highlighting the work of Athlete Wellbeing & Engagement Manager Sam Cox.

“It’s interesting, there’s a lot of stuff that goes into coaching like the mental side of the game and the physical side and all the things that contribute to that through nutrition and psychology,” Willis said.

“We’ve been focussing on the things that we actually can work on, and provide as many resources as we can in all areas of the program.

“High on our agenda at the moment is obviously the wellbeing space, we have an amazing wellbeing manager in our team in Samantha Cox and she does an amazing job connecting with the players and it’s all about that genuine connection.

“I think between the players and the staff at the moment there is a genuine connection and concern for each other which is really good to see.”

Even within such a challenging period for the 47-year-old, who has been in the role since the beginning of March, he is finding the positives and ignoring the negatives.

“It certainly has been challenging that’s for sure, it’s been an interesting introduction to the role and you can’t plan for the unexpected,” he said.

“It’s given me another approach and another way to look at things from a coaching perspective and has given me time to reflect personally on how I approach things.

“I’ve built stronger connections with the athletes through this period as well, so to every negative you have to take as many positives out as you can.”

Hear the full Without Bias chat with Gary Willis and Barrie Lester below.