Dr. Josh retires: A VBM Q&A with the Canadian Olympian

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Josh Binstock, 35, calls it a beach career/FIVB photo

Dr. Josh Binstock, a two-time Olympian, three-time Canadian national champion, and four-time NVL champion, has decided to hang up his boardies at age 35.

His last tournament was the Swatch World Tour Finals in Toronto.

Binstock, a practicing chiropractor, also represented Canada at the Pan Am games, been awarded the MVP of the NVL in 2014, won two gold medals in NorCECA competition, and won four medals on the FIVB tour.

Dr. Josh, as he is affectionately known, is now looking for the right clinic to house his chiropractic talents. VolleyballMag.com’s Ed Chan caught up with him for this Q&A:

Josh Binstock/FIVB photo
Josh Binstock/FIVB photo

VBM: What made you decide to retire?

Dr. Josh: A multitude of factors, for sure. Overall, it just felt right. I’m ready to move on to the next phase of my life. It felt like the right time to do it.

VBM: You woke up the day after the World Tour Finals. You didn’t have to train, you didn’t have to maintain your diet, you didn’t have to lift, what does that feel like?

Dr. Josh: It’s weird, It feels great initially, but then I actually missed pushing myself, and having the routine, the goals, and the motivation. It’s a nice little break in the short term but then you miss the regimen.

VBM: Retirement from a sport is a continuum. Some players never touch a ball again, others continue to play throughout their lives, some continue to compete at lower levels, where will you be?

Dr. Josh: I don’t see myself not competing any more, I definitely will miss the competition for sure. It won’t be traveling the world on the international tour, that travel alone is what makes it difficult for me to move on to the next stage of my life. I’ll probably still do some Americas tour stuff. I love the game still, and I still have the passion for it. I won’t be moving away from the game, that’s for sure.

VBM: You’ve spent the vast majority of your life competing at a high level. How will you satisfy your competitive fire now?

Dr. Josh: I used to play pretty high level hockey when I was growing up, and I had to come away from that for volleyball, so it will be nice to re-connect with friends but also play competitively at a high level. I’ll be able to find ways to stoke that competitive fire.

VBM: What does life look like for Josh Binstock?

Dr. Josh: At the moment, it doesn’t feel like retirement at all, I’m getting pulled in a bunch of directions. It’s a new and different problem. I’ll be able to set different goals and try to achieve those in a different realm, in the business world. I’m excited to get my chiropractic business going, to set new goals for that, and apply the lessons I learned on and off the court to my chiropractic practice.

I’ll be working at a clinic, treating patients, and treating young up-and-coming volleyball athletes and mentoring them with advice like how to perform under pressure, or how to handle a high academic load while training, proper nutrition, mental resilience, or how to deal with adversity. It’ll be a little mix of everything I’ve learned in addition to my chiropractic and trying to give back to the sport and the younger generation.

VBM: Canada had its best Olympic showing in Rio, with full country quotas in beach volleyball on both sides, and the indoor men qualifying. What do you credit the improvements to?

Dr. Josh: It’s a combination of pushing each other and belief. Once teams see success in other teams that they’ve beat or train with, that shows other teams that they can do it. We were the first team to get on the podium last year in Porec ((Croatia, Silver, 2015), and that lit a fire under the butts of Ben (Saxton) and Chaim (Schalk), and they realized that they had the potential. That opened up their belief system, and their ceiling was so much higher, their perceptions changed, and your previous limits were just an illusion. We all started pushing each other, which is why the Americans and Brazilians are so good. They push each other higher and higher without realizing it on their own national tours, which we were finally able to do playing against each other and with each other on both sides, just raise the overall level of the country.   

VBM: As you look back on your career, what are your favorite moments?

Dr. Josh: There are a few moments that stick out in my mind. The first time I walked into the stadium in London in opening ceremonies, that was a moment that I’ve watched on TV since I was a kid, and dreamed about it. Once I felt that energy in the stadium, and walked around with my fellow athletes and athletes around the world, that was a moment that kind of stuck in my nervous system and brain because it was such an overall sensory experience, not just a visual experience, it was more of a feeling.

The first time I was on the podium on the world tour was special (Argentina, gold medal, 2014), because it took me so many years to get to that point.

The first time I was on the podium for a grand slam event was an important achievement for Sam and I.

And then I would have to say just connecting with the athletes, becoming friends with them, and having mutual respect the more you play. It’s crazy because you have epic battles with each other on the court, you want to kill each other, and then you have dinner with each other and talk about things that don’t matter that were on the court. It’s truly amazing, it’s an interesting sport where you’re enemies one moment and friends the next. For them to be able to separate that in a sincere way is something special that I don’t take for granted in all my years of playing.

VBM: What will you miss most?

Dr. Josh: I’ll miss being pushed to your limits every weekend. You’re playing a sport where you’re so exposed. A lot of people wouldn’t want to be in that situation, because there’s no hiding. In other team sports, if you’re playing poorly, your coach can sub you out and put someone else in, but you’re really testing what you’re made of, mentally and physically. A lot of times you’re uncomfortable in a situation, but you become comfortable with your discomfort because it shows you what you need to work on and what you’re good at. There’s no sugar coating it because it’s right there.  I’ll miss what it teaches you about yourself and what it teaches you about dealing with adversity. I’ll also miss experiencing other cultures in the world, different cuisines,  otherwise I probably wouldn’t be able to afford travelling around the world and experiencing what the world has to offer. It’s interesting to see other athletes’ customs,  culture, and traditions.

VBM: On the flip side, what parts of competing are you glad to leave behind?

Dr. Josh: The constant pressure. You’re always under stress. It’s a high stress situation, especially this year. All the travel sounds glamorous, but it’s exhausting to be honest. The tournaments aren’t even on the same continent. This year we crossed the Atlantic ocean five times in two months. First we’re in China, then we go to America, then we go to the Middle East, then back to North America. Sometimes in customs they ask where we’re coming from, and it takes me a moment to remember. Dealing with that many time zone changes is definitely exhausting on all levels, I definitely won’t miss dealing with jet lag.

VBM: I hear you’re heading back to Turks and Caicos for Volleyball Vacations in November, where everyday volleyball fans get to play with the pros. What’s that like?

Dr. Josh: It’s fun to get back to Volleyball Vacations. I haven’t been able to go for a few years due to scheduling conflicts. I just love helping people get better at volleyball, and spending time with people that share our passion for the game.

It’s a great place. It’s paradise, so that’s another bonus.    

Editor’s note: Volleyball Vacations is an all-inclusive beach trip to Club Med in which participants can play and hang out with the pros.

http://volleyballvacations.com/turks-caicos/

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