Post Holiday Slump

You think after having seven days off from class I’d feel rested and refreshed. But not so. I went to Taiwan for 5 days of the holiday and did everything in my power to make sure I was constantly stuffed and exhausted.

Even if you don’t know much about Taiwan I think you must have heard about the food. The food is unbelievable, cheap and abundant on every street corner. In fact night markets are a big part of the culture. And with such a short trip there I didn’t want to waste a second. Needless to say, I walked around in a food induced haze. But it was worth it.

A ball of mashed potatoes breaded and deep fried, then cut open to pile on ham, broccoli, corn, onions, ranch dressing and then covered completely in cheese was just one of the things I got to eat.

I had to do something to keep myself busy between meals so I went to an opera, saw friends, took gondola’s up mountains and more. You can read about my trip at my other blog. This picture is Azhi and I with two of the performers from an opera we watched.

Of course this did nothing for my badminton skills which I quickly found out the days after I got back. We still had a few days left of the holiday and luckily/unluckily for me, my coach decided to spend his time focusing on me and my game.

But I was exhausted and just looking for an easy/fun day playing. I did not get it. My coach began railing on me right from the start and didn’t let up. Usually we play one or two games and then switch, but there was only 9 people at badminton that night (due to most people gone for the holiday) and he just stuck with me: two games, three games, four game, five games….it never ended. Instead of asking others to play he just kept calling out “continue!” after each game finished.

His thing was telling me to get into the standby/ready position. I tend to have a bad habit of hitting the birdie, then kinda standing there for a minute to watch it before getting back down into the ready position–crouched with my right leg forward, knees bent, racket at the ready. I’m getting better at it, but that night not so much. I was slow and sleepy.

Every time I, or he, would hit it he would yell “ready!” and half keep an eye on me and half keep an eye on actually playing. He would get mad if my racket wasn’t help up, if my feet were too side by side instead of right leg more forward, my grip wrong and on and on. Sometimes he covers for me, going for shots that technically might be mine, but he knows I will have trouble returning. But not that night. If he thought I should get it, he made no move himself and yelled when I missed.

Honestly, I really wasn’t in the mood but like a stereotypical sitcom wife and husband combo I just wanted his damn nagging to stop. So I did what he wanted. After losing the first two games we started winning. But he’s never happy about winning if I’m not doing it to his standards.  Around the third game he said “I’m not going to say anything” which then made me nervous and confused. Like I’ve said before, if he’s yelling, I’m okay. If he’s a cold ball of anger I can do nothing except worry and question every move I make. (Was that right or wrong? Is he mad or happy?)

After we played five or six games, us winning only half, he sat me down and showed me the security camera footage. It has a good view of the court so I can watch how I played. Badminton happens so quickly, your body reacts so unconsciously, I often have no idea what I’m actually doing. Like sometimes he would yell out “why is your left leg forward?!” but I had already moved and then I would say, “was my left leg forward?” I honestly don’t know.

As he was getting the footage on his phone he said, “Are you mad?” I was so tired I was uncharacteristically quiet and he mistook it for anger.

“No,” I said. “Just tired. Are you mad?” He had done a lot of huffing and puffing and even throwing his racked down a few times during the game.

“No,” he said. “I’m not mad. Well, I was JUST mad, but I’m not mad now.” Haha, thanks for the honesty coach.

So I sat and watched myself playing for about 10 minutes. I’m not a person that likes to listen to myself on the radio or watch video because I just cringe at how I look and sound, but I forced myself to notice my footwork and my stance. My coach sat with me for a few minutes, us replaying several seconds and him pointing out what I did right/wrong then he went off to play and I continued watching. I do think it’s helpful no matter how much I hate watching it.

When I run up to the net to hit a birdie I have a bad habit of just standing there for a second and watching it instead of getting ready to hit the next shot.

 

My coach showing me what I should have done. My arm is at a weird angle because I was wiping sweat off my face with my sleeve.

In training we worked on defense, and returning both smashes and drives. This time he really worked on consistency with me. He wanted me to return each shot to him in the same exact place, no matter where I hit it from. He didn’t want to move, or change his grip at all. If I returned the first shot on the forehand side waist height, then I better return all the shots to his forehand side at waist height. It was an interesting challenge anyway and I liked trying to force this control that doesn’t come naturally to me.

At one point as I was gathering birdies he said in a sing-songy voice, “I hate my coach. He bothers me so much and I don’t understand anything he tells me.”

“Who’s that?” I asked, knowing he was imitating someone.

“That’s you!” he said.

“Nooo,” I said extremely sarcastically. “I only say how much I LOVE my coach and I how I understand everything he says because his Chinese is soooooooo good.” (He has a very heavily accented Mandarin and I like to make fun of him for his terrible spoken chinese.)

It kinda came out of left field though and I really wonder what he thinks of me. Or what he thinks I think of him. He doesn’t read my blog, can’t understand it even if he looked at it, and I play it cool around him so I guess he doesn’t know how much I hero worship him. Does he think I walk around talking about how annoying he is? Made me laugh anyway.

In other news I have a competition this weekend. Cross your fingers my next blog post is titled: I Won Motherfuckers, I Won!

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