17 Nov The Coaches Take: GBR’s Joshua and Molly Richardson
By Aoife Cassidy
Brother and sister duo, Joshua and Molly Richardson are the Head Coaches at Aylesbury Gymnastics Academy in Aylesbury, United Kingdom. They are the coaches of Olympic, World and European medalists, Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova and World, European and Commonwealth medalist, Ondine Achampong. We caught up with the busy duo and they gave us an insight into their journey to coaching, their coaching philosophy and their goals for the future.
The pair, like many top gymnasts and coaches were ‘born into gymnastics’. Their grandparents, Brian and Barbara Adams opened a gymnastics centre in 1986 and both Joshua and Molly competed in the sport as youngsters as far as county and regional level.
They both began their coaching journeys at the age of fourteen when they took roles within the recreational and development competition squad programme and gradually moved through the system, eventually becoming Directors and Head Coaches at Aylesbury Gymnastics Academy.
Now, at the top of their game as coaches they are undoubtedly inspirations for any young coaches working their way through the ranks. However, as young coaches, both name their mother, Niki Adams and uncle, Chris Adams as their inspirations due the passion and love for the sport they showed when coaching. Josh also notes Valeri Liukin and Liang Chow as inspirations to him later on in his coaching career as ‘they had the leading gymnasts in the world at that time’.
Meanwhile, Molly recognises her brother, Josh as a leading inspiration for her because he taught her to go after her dreams and achieve them through hard work, dedication and determination.
And this hard work, dedication and determination has led them to the top tier of elite gymnastics in an era that has been extremely successful for British Gymnastics. Joshua and Molly recognise the help they have received from British Gymnastics in achieving all that they have and noted David Kenwright as a mentor and source of inspiration over the last few Olympic cycles and Scott Hann as a tremendous support with their coaching development.
However, whilst they have been supported within the British Gymnastics system, when asked whether they are directly influenced by the coaching philosophy in the UK or whether they take inspiration from other programmes, they stated;
“We are both very competitive and are always looking to improve our coaching to get the international edge on our competitors. Therefore, we are very open to learning from all around the world. We will take snippets from all philosophies and create our own which stays and remains in line to our principles.”
When asked what they believe makes a successful coach, they state that passion and commitment are key to success. They note that the passion and commitment must come from both the coach and the athlete and the goals of both must be aligned. Aside from this, good communication, knowledge and technique and being competitive are all key components to a coaches success, according to the Richardsons.
On the flip side, they also note that creating an atmosphere that is not a dictatorship is important especially as the athlete gets older and that engaging in conversation and understanding the athlete as a person as well as a gymnast is important. Having an open mind to other techniques that may help your athlete is also important according to Josh and Molly as ‘there is more than one way to skin a cat’.
They both also note the importance of coaching the athlete as an individual rather than coaching as a group. Both recognise that they have certain principles and standards as high performance coaches that they like to adhere to however it is important to recognise that every gymnast is different and should be coached differently.
To date, Molly and Josh note their Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth successes as their biggest achievements and looking towards the future they say they wish:
“To continue achieving international success on the biggest stages. Of course, adding additional Olympic medals is what we are working towards but in addition to this our goals are for our athletes to have no regrets when their careers end and that they can transition into the big wide world happy.”
Overall, it is clear that the focus of both Molly and Josh Richardson is not only success on the international stage but to stay true to their coaching style; ‘Holistic and Intuitive’. Both Molly and Josh are clearly extremely determined and focused but also want to provide an holistic training experience for their athletes which will ensure that their gymnasts are happy and healthy and prepared for life not just as gymnasts, but as humans.
Photos by Ricardo Bufolin for Inside Gymnastics
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