Now, I talk a lot about my coach and how great he is, but actually I don’t have just one coach, I have a few. And these days, my coaches are trying to do everything in the power to kill me.
It started last Sunday, when my one part-time coach Yang Ping invited me for training. The training wasn’t exactly hard per say, no footwork training and there was several of us training together so there was some break time as the others did their portion with the coach, but it was long.
And halfway through we practiced clears with a partner. Me and my partner got into this rhythm where we went non-stop, not missing the shuttle, for 4 or more minutes. If you have practiced clears you know how exhausting that can be. And it wasn’t our first four minutes, but the last four minutes. We had been hitting clears for awhile before that point. So much so that the people also training on the court actually got off, took a break, and came back and started training again while me and my partner were continuously hitting. When the shuttle finally dropped everyone around us clapped at our herculean effort and we both had to rub our arms afterwards.
That was Sunday late afternoon. Monday I woke up early to meet my coach and have our weekly training. This week he decided to focus on smashes. My smash is pretty good, but my coach is taking me back to basics, and really working to improve every single aspect of my game in minute detail. “Pretty good” isn’t good enough these days and I have to get every aspect, fingers, arm, feet, body movement, to top form.
But my arm was already sore from all those damn clears 12-hours before, and when you practice something focusing on the minutia, it somehow kills your instincts and form. The longer we practiced smashes, with me fretting about every particular detail, the worse my smashes became, which frustrated both me and my coach. Also, my arm was pretty damn toasty after thirty plus minutes of smash training. Feeling angry always helps me with my smashes, but I couldn’t muster up the anger feeling because I was so tired.
After our hour plus of training, my coach left and my next coach came in. This is a guy who recently graduated college and was one of the top university players. Right now he’s coaching badminton full-time but he’s going to America to study next year so we have worked out a deal where he coaches me for an hour, then we go out for lunch and speak English for another hour. It’s a nice little system.
Only, he doesn’t know or care what I train with with my coach, and he starts from anew, as if I’m not already exhausted. I did say my arm was basically done, and please let’s not train smashes or clears, and he agreed. So instead we trained front of the net, especially footwork. Gah! Footwork! That bane of my existence!
He ended the training especially cruel as he forced me to do footwork drills on my own while he sat and played with his phone. As I was gasping for breath he asked me if I hated him.
“No, I loooove you. And I loooooove footwork drills,” I squeaked out between gasps.
Then he grabbed a 10kg weight and made me do some wrist exercises, and then 100 racket swings. As my wrist, arm, and thighs were burning with pain and soreness he pleasantly asked where I wanted to go for lunch. We chatted for a minute then he cocked his finger and lifted up the weight again. We had to do the whole wrist cycle again?!
So you can imagine by the next night I was pretty exhausted even before playing, and my regular coach decided this was going to be the night where he really got on my case during game play. Not only was my thighs, arms and wrists still sore, but I was exhausted. I’ve been really busy lately (with badminton and life) and I was slow and headachy. If I was a sane human being, I wouldn’t have played that night.
But play I did, and with my coach on my case during game play, all I could do was nod and agree with him when he yelled at my mistakes. I had no sass, no retorts, and I think he thought I was mad at him because I was so quiet. Several times he asked me if I was mad and I said no, but he kept asking. Even if he thought I was mad he didn’t let up on me, pushing me to play my best.
As I left that night he again asked of I was mad and I assured him I wasn’t but I’m not sure he believed me. The next day in the group chat, where we sign up for playing, he specifically asked me to sign up. I think he was worried.
I should have known better though, because after such an intense few days with no breaks I had no gas left. That night was a tough night of play, with my coach setting up a little competition where each foursome would play four consecutive games changing partners each time. As soon as we finished four games you had to mix with other partners and play 4 more consecutive games. It was an exhausting night of game play, and I was out-manned, (literally, I was the only girl) and everyone was my level or higher. I managed a few wins, but not enough to bolster me out of my exhaustion.
So thursday I did the unthinkable….I took the day off. I play six days a week, with friday being my only day off. I hate taking more days off, but I just couldn’t do it. In fact, I took last thursday night off too because I was so tired.
I really appreciate that I have friends who are professional coaches who are willing to help me for free (I pay my coach, the others I don’t). And I really like training several times a week with different styles. I just wish it wouldn’t happen all on the same day! I put my all into training and I don’t hold back. All this training just might end up killing me, but hopefully when I crawl back to life, I’ll be a better player for it.