A lot of badminton stuff has been going on these days, but in the midst of competitions and meeting badminton legends, I’m still keeping up my training.
I’m pretty solid on the basics now, so my training has now changed to focusing on the details.
I am not a details person.
Details can be a pain in the ass, and you can usually get away without them. Like, take learning Chinese for example. Chinese is a tonal language, with different meanings of words based on the way you say it. It can make the difference between saying “going to sleep” and “dumplings.” (A mistake I made for months.) So learning tones is incredibly important, but it’s also kinda a detail. I focus on new words and reading, so my tones are pretty bad but it doesn’t hinder me from doing what I want. Context is a big part of language too, and most people can figure out what I’m saying. But every now and then I just say one word wrong and people look at me like I’m crazy and just have nooooooo idea what I’m saying. It’s those moments where I wish I had spent more time on the tones. But in general, I don’t care.
Badminton is the same. I want to train the things that will get me big rewards, like footwork, and I focus less on the little things…like my fingers.
We never focused on “fingerwork” (it sounds kinda dirty in English but I don’t know what the actual word is. Finger technique? Hand technique? Hand work? Anyway, I don’t mean my grip exactly, but more how I use the power in my fingers, and move my fingers in a rally.) When I’m in the resting/ready position, my grip and fingers are fine and I hold the racket properly.
But when a rally starts I slightly shift my grip, and my fingers go to the wrong place. How do I know this happens? Because I have proof of my crime:
I get a small little bruise on my wrist from where the bottom of the racket hits it. Because I start of a rally in good form, and only make this shift during play, it has gone unnoticed by my coach. Unlike me he is a real stickler for details but he also focused more on my footwork and tactics so this escaped his notice.
But we’ve come to a point in our training where every aspect needs to be crisp and precise and he doesn’t need to pay attention to my big movements anymore. Now he’s focusing on the details and has finally noticed my error. There is a lot of power and technique that comes from using your fingers properly and with my natural strength it has never been a major weakness in my game play. But I want to be a gaoshou, (expert) so I must get this detail right.
And now that he has noticed it, he has honed in on it and pays very close attention to it all the friggin’ time. He doesn’t even need to see me playing to check my form. After I come back from playing from elsewhere he’ll demand to see my wrist because he doesn’t trust me to tell, or know, the truth. (I don’t realize I’m doing it.) It’s like the parent of a teen sniffing their kids breath every time they come back from a party to see if they were drinking.
It’s kinda an embarrassing problem because my coach, and a few others I told, don’t even know how I could do this. Like, it’s not a common problem and it took him awhile to figure out how it was literally possible. I think he underestimates my ability for stupidity. I also thought I was better than this pretty basic mistake. Guess even I underestimated my own stupidity.
But he’s on the case now, and keeping a very close eye. So much so the other night he was playing a game in the court next to mine and I hear “Xiao Bing! You’re holding your racket wrong!” The dude was 20 feet away at least and playing his own game! What kind of hawk eyes does he have?! And on Monday when I was training with a friend, who is also a coach, he came running over from the office saying, “no, no, no, NO!” and then he yanked my fingers into the proper position.
“You have to watch her fingers,” he told my friend. “Make sure she is holding the racket correctly. Show him your wrist!” I guiltily held it up and he pointed to the area the other coach should pay attention to.
All of this is working though. I haven’t got any bruising in weeks (though I still scrap it enough to make it red sometimes) and I’m thinking a lot about it. I might not be one for details, but luckily my coach is, so I’ll get this one eventually.
In other news we had yet another competition, a friendly club competition. (That’s our pic at the top.) I lost mixed doubles with Azhi but we had to go to three games and actually I played pretty well. I wasn’t as nervous being at a new place with new people, so that was good. (But it wasn’t a high stakes game so I had less of a reason to be nervous.) My club won and after we all went out to dinner together and chewed on giant hocks of pork.
Also, my coach got a pool table for the court. Free play! I’m no pool shark, but I can play and I was actually able to beat some expert badminton players in pool so that made me feel good. It’s also a good distraction as sometimes his court is too full and as his club we have to wait a bit. So now we play pool while we wait. Sometimes people play pool over badminton which I am not a fan of, but it’s a good distraction anyway.
Also, the court bird died, an actual live bird, but no one is sad about that. Someone gave it to my coach months ago and it was put in a corner because it was scared of the noise and activity of the court. Over the last few months it turned real nasty, biting and pecking at everyone who tried to give it food and water. I don’t blame it though. It was on floor level and I know the courts have some big, mean looking rats. So I’m guessing the poor bird had some real big battles at night over it’s food dish and that’s why it became so defensive.
Lotta stuff going on in the badminton world!