Bethany Hamilton Interview – My goal is to qualify for the World Tour
Bethany Hamilton is in Australia to kick-off what we have all dreamed she would do… Return to competitive surfing and try and qualify for the World Tour! She is also touring her incredible film UNSTOPPABLE which is screening nationally, in over 50 cinemas some of which she is attending to do a Q&A – See the full list of cinemas & get tickets here.
Our chat, from one surfer to another, focused around how her new film UNSTOPPABLE, her training and razor-sharp focus, being a mum, changes in her body, and how she has prepared a return to competition on the world stage.
Bethany Hamilton UNSTOPPABLE trailer
The Bethany Hamilton Interview
Listen to our whole conversation (minus the beginning intro as the audio cut out!):
If you had to choose between the three classic Aussie post-surf meals, a meat-pie, a sausage roll, or fish and chips, what would you choose?
I would have to choose a delicious organic, grass-fed meat pie (laughs!).
“I just felt like there was a lot with surfing that I hadn’t really had the time or focus to put my energy towards yet, so we just decided to focus on surfing, and working on the film project was a great way for me to streamline my focus.”
What did you love about working with Director Aaron Lieber, how did that partnership come about?
A few years ago, Aaron made a film called Zero to One Hundred with surfer Lakey Peterson that I really loved, and I had been on a few trips with him before.
He is just always super motivated and I think, I don’t know, I’ve always had good people intuition, and I just felt comfortable with him. So after I got married, my husband and I were evaluating life and what opportunities we had. I just felt like there was a lot with surfing that I hadn’t really had the time or focus, to put my energy towards yet. So we just decided to focus on surfing.
Working on the film project was a great way for me to streamline my focus. I feel to this day that I’m in awe of Aaron. I’ve learned so much from him. He’s such a motivating and hard-working, and just an amazing human. Yeah, so I feel like I made a good choice working with him.
And then, I guess no one had really approached me about anything along the same lines, so even though there are a lot of film-makers, I’m not the type of seek out people too much. Nowadays, it’s so much about networking and getting to know all the people out there and it’s just not my strong suit. I like to hang out in the background and let everyone do their thing.
So Aaron approached me and we just went for it!
Nice, and I think some of the best films when you look at the athlete and the film-maker, the athlete pushes the film-maker as much as the film-maker pushes the athlete. Was that the case for you guys?
Yeah, for sure. We are both really hard-working humans so I think we just meshed well. I was ready to hustle and so was he. So hearing you say that I would say that’s like spot-on.
“I think a lot of people who do know my story, they think they know my whole story and it’s just so different.”
I think the film is incredible and it’s going to appeal to such a wide variety of people. So congratulations on producing such an amazing piece of art and telling your story in such a beautiful way.
Ahhh thank you! Yeah I know, it’s crazy because I think, a lot of people who do know my story, they think they know my whole story, and it’s just so different.
I think it really captures me, and just some really unique aspects of being like a mother, as a professional athlete, and all the different things that my life holds. I’m really excited to get it out there. It’s been really cool already hearing some of the feedback so. Yeah, I’m honoured.
“Mentally, there’s some blocks that I’ve had in the past, as far as competitive strategies and self-belief, that have held me back, so-to-say. So, I’m excited to make some different changes and re-go for it.”
“It’s crazy after having two kids, it just feels like I have worked so hard on it (my core) but I don’t feel like I have all the strength connected back together yet. But regardless, I am still very strong.”
What feel do you from competing that you don’t get from free surfs?
I guess I’ve always been really competitive, ever since I was young. Like very, very competitive. It’s almost as I’ve gotten older, I’ve suppressed that a little bit, like pushed it to the side. I really believe you can only do so much at once, and when you try to do it all, it’s just like too much in life. So it’s been exciting. I’m putting my focus back on competing and just going to see how it goes.
I’m working with a coach, Ross Williams. That’s been really cool, just because I think that mentally, there are some blocks that I’ve had in the past, as far as competitive strategies and self-belief, that have held me back, so-to-say. So, I’m excited to make some different changes and re-go for it.
Are you planning on doing quite a lot of QS events with the goal of trying to qualify for the CT?
Yeah, that’s my full focus this year, for 2020!
Amazing, we are so happy to hear that. The World loves watching you surf so that is great news!
Ahh thank you!
“I think as women, our bodies are built differently. So I think it’s finding ways to empower what you have to the best of your ability.”
So with regards to your training, so much of your power seems to come from an incredibly strong core. What are the key areas that you focus on and train, that allow you to surf as you do?
Well, definitely my legs are pretty strong. My core is still to this day, it is not where I want it to be but I’m working on it… A lot. It’s crazy after having two kids, it just feels like I have worked so hard on it but I don’t feel like I have all the strength connected back together yet. But regardless, I am still very strong, I would say.
I think as women, our bodies are built differently. So I think it’s finding ways to empower what you have to the best of your ability.
I have a really cool trainer out of Canada who’s taught me so much. He has a background in so many different sports. He kind of meshes it all together including dance and martial arts, and he does surfing, snowboarding, and tennis too. He takes all these different worlds and dresses them together in this unique style of training. Because there are different types of strength too, some are more functional than others. So trying to have functional strength…
Then at the same time, there is the whole art of balancing my body from having one arm, so my training probably looks a lot different from the average person’s training in the gym. I think we all have different bodies so finding our weak places and our strengths and celebrating the strong points and working hard at the weak points.
When learning to do your air-reverse, we saw you did a lot of work with Shane Beschen on the trampoline, how much did that help?
Oh my gosh, the trampoline training is amazing. Because it’s just really hard to find waves with a lot of ramp and getting that consistency and being comfortable in the air too. So, the trampoline training is RAD and really fun too.
Bethany Hamilton’s Amazing Air Reverse | A teaser from Unstoppable
And what was the mental side of learning that trick like? You did it in Padang right, you were training there?
Yeah, like in the Uluwatu area. Which actually isn’t the easiest wave to do airs either. So that was really cool. I just had a session where I was going at it and had some success so…
What was the mental side of that, how did you approach it?
Oh my gosh, the mental side was really hard because you know you do have to try a lot of airs and you don’t land most of them. So… just like, keeping on with believing that you can and going back to the drawing board if it’s not coming together. It definitely helps having filming and footage reviewed to see what you are doing, versus what it actually… like, because it may feel good but then when you watch the footage, I wasn’t even close! Or, like oh my gosh, I was so close but that one didn’t even feel that good. So learning to find the feeling when it’s really on-point and close, and then always seeking to do that same movement.
Did you have a mantra or anything that you kind-of said to yourself during that process, something you kept on coming back to?
No, I didn’t but I think that’s a great idea! (laughs).
“The more you say something, the more you are going to believe it. Whereas if you are saying negative stuff, you’re going to believe that more. So, finding the areas that you maybe are not quite as strong in, and recognising OK, how can I grow in this area and just become stronger.”
A lot of people do use that, like little affirmations and things that help them out.
Yeah, I’ve been starting to incorporate some affirmative stuff a lot more. It’s been really cool. Because the more you say something, the more you are going to believe it. Whereas if you are saying negative stuff, you’re going to believe that more. So, finding the areas that you maybe are not quite as strong in and recognising OK, how can I grow in this area and just become stronger.
How do you set goals each year? You said about the CT this year which is so exciting. Do you have a structure to that, how do you approach it?
This year, I definitely had to get organised because knew that I wanted to seek out a good coach and just work on the competitive side of things because it is so different. I think it’s probably one of the hardest things in the sport’s realm to have success in, just because the ocean is always taking a turn and you literally have to be in-tune with it and make smart decisions every minute of your heat so, this yeah I just got quite a bit more organised.
You’re still dealing with the ocean, and surfers and you just kind of make the most of what you’ve got and go for it. It’s been really fun just to unleash the competitive side of myself and not be fearful of that.
“[Being a mum] is also nice because I think sometimes people can be too ultra-focused that they need some balance in life. I can only be focused so many hours of the day, and then the rest, I’m enjoying my kids or dealing with a poopy diaper or someone waking up at a random hour, so it keeps me on my toes.”
How has it changed being a mum and wanting to have that fierce competitive nature? Have you noticed any difference?
I think it just makes me have to be a bit more organised. I have a lot more on my plate to balance. But it is also nice because, I think sometimes people can be too ultra-focused, that they need some balance in life. I can only be focused so many hours of the day and then the rest I’m enjoying my kids or dealing with a poopy diaper, or someone waking up at a random hour… So it keeps me on my toes!
That’s awesome, thanks, Bethany.
Yeah thank you sooo much and I’ll have to check out your site sometime. It sounds like you guys do some fun stuff!
Bethany Hamilton UNSTOPPABLE is a new documentary about her life. It is touring 50 cinemas across Australia. Find out more about the film and where you can see it on the UNSTOPPABLE Australian website.
Want to know more about Bethany Hamilton? See how she has adapted to duck-dive with just one arm in this video – It’s incredibly impressive.
Learn more about Bethany Hamilton on her website.