I Just Leveled up Big Time!! (WU #21)

I did it! I was finally asked to join a high level group of all Chinese badminton players. Woot!

Cross another one of the “goals” list!

It’s because of my coach of course. At his new badminton place he started his own group. We are called the 246 group because we meet on the second, fourth and sixth day of the week. We start at 6:30pm and last time I left at 10pm and most people were still playing. Yup, it’s a tough, serious group.

And I’m back to being the beginner and one of the lowest level players. Which actually I’m okay with. I don’t like being one of the top players because as much as it feeds my ego, I know deep down that I’m not that good. So if I’m a top player, like I am in my older group, then their level isn’t high enough for me to improve.

But speaking of my older group…..we also play tuesday/thursday and now my loyalties are being tested. Socially, my older group has been getting more awesome. Yeah, I joined originally because of my friends, but that group of friends doesn’t go to badminton that often anymore. So I’ve been making new friends with the Taiwanese and Chinese players and lately we’ve been hanging out a lot (after practice) and been having a lot of fun. I really like becoming friends with them.

But, I want to improve and I can’t do that with them. So….I need to choose. Right now I’m doing a half/half thing. Tuesday with the old group, thursday with the new group, but I think in a few months I’ll migrate totally to the new group. I knew I’d have to move on eventually but I already have a bit of FOMO with my old group.

After Tuesday's practice the five of us went to a little hole-in-the-wall sake place where one of them knew the owner. We ate Taiwanese snacks and talked until 1am. They are very fun to hang out with.

After practice the five of us have been going out to the wee hours of the night drinking and eating. They are super fun and I’m kinda sorry I didn’t get to know them for so long. While we all play in a big group there are a lot of people and you tend to play with the people you are friends with. But these guys are the best players in the group and as I improved I gravitated towards playing with them, and now hanging out with them. 

In other news, my head’s back in the game. With the recent Becky Cup, and final exams, and summer travel plans and some health problems my mind has been scattered in a thousand places, none of which were badminton. But most of that is finished now and I can really draw all of my attention back to badminton.

I actually apologized to my coach Wednesday night for not being so focused, and turns out he apologized to me too. He’s been really busy with his courts opening, and juggling his two businesses that he hasn’t focused on our class or helping me improve. So, we kinda both dropped the ball.

But we picked it up big time this week and he pushed me harder than he ever has before. Physically. He made me do this thing where I start in the middle and (using proper footwork) run to the right side of the court, and do a deep lunge so I can touch the line without bending my body forward (my lunge has to basically have me sitting just inches above the floor). Then I immediately have to jump up, get back to center, go to the left side, but one step before the line on that side I have to swing my body around so it’s facing the rear and do a deep lunge again and touch the left line, then rush back to center. So basically I’m running from side to side, with my right leg doing all the lunging.

Lunging (with your dominate leg forward) is the most common and important move for badminton. It's also totally killer to practice.

Lunging (with your dominate leg forward) is the most common and important move for badminton. It’s also totally killer to practice.

He made me do it 20 times, but actually we ended up doing it much more because I kept fucking it up. This is one of those “you only cheat yourself” situations, yet apparently I loooooove cheating myself. I kept not lunging right, or not touching the actual line. He had to watch me like a hawk and yell at me again and again.

Also, coming out of a deep lunge in one, fast upward push as fast as I can, ain’t easy. I got a lot of heft to lift up and pushing off with one, very extended leg, isn’t easy. But speed was of the essence and he kept on me to go faster and faster and faster, which made me try to cut corners (not touch the line, or bend my back more and keep the lunge smaller) which made him yell at me more.

By the time we finished each side next to the line where I would touch, was awash with sweat where my drips kept landing and I was heaving for breath. He let me rest for a minute and I was feeling really proud of myself. This was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to do in training. And I had survived it! After a few minutes when my breath got a little easier and my heart wasn’t pounding so much I picked up my racket and walked back to him to play. He didn’t pick up his racket. He just looked at me.

“Do it again,” he said.

What?!?!

See all the drops of sweat? Right by the line where my sweaty ponytail and/or face would drip pff as I reached for the line.

See all the drops of sweat? Right by the line where my sweaty ponytail and/or face would drip off as I reached for the line. I’m not the kind of person that enjoys sweat dripping from all parts of my body, but for badminton I will endure it. 

When I finished the second punishing round and I was again gasping for breath I managed to get out, “my heart likes you, but my mind and body hates you right now!”

“I know,” he said laughing. I kinda fell to the floor to catch my breath and he made me stand up and walk it off. I’ve got a long way to go…

 

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