“Do You Wanna Hit the Shuttle With Your Head?”

My coach and I haven’t started training yet, but we are back to playing and he has taken to playing with me so he can yell at me the whole time. Between being sick and the Chinese New Year holiday I haven’t played much but I don’t seem to have lost too much speed or reaction time. I have lost the finer details though, and I’m back to my old ways of lowering my racket too much and not staying in the “ready” position.

“Do you wanna hit the shuttle with your head?” my coach asked me in all seriousness the other night.

“Ummm..no?” I said confused at the random question.

“Then why is your racket down as you approach the net! Keep it up!”

Man, my coach is getting creative with his insults. (Later he asked me if I was trying to hit the shuttle with my butt. I had gone for a net shot and instead of jumping back and getting ready for the return I just kinda stood right at the front of the net with my racket arm across my body with my butt facing most of the net.)

One night he said that his 6-year-old son could beat me at singles because I was playing so poorly. The next night his son came and we played to 11 points with his son starting at 8  (his son would need three points to win and I would need eleven points). I let him win but my coach wasn’t happy with that.

“Xiao Bing let you win,” my coach said to his son. “Play again!” To me he said, “Play seriously.” I pleaded with my eyes to not, but he insisted.

So I played honestly and got 11 straight points. The kid almost cried and I felt like a monster. (We played a third time and I let him win again so he left the court smiling.)  I might have almost made a young kid cry, but at least I proved that I could, indeed, beat his six-year-old son. He can’t use that insult anymore!

Just like last winter holiday my coach gave me the keys to castle and I was the boss of the badminton courts for a few days. Even better he gave me the app and password to the courts security system. I can now watch the court from my phone at any time. I can go back in time and watch previous days plays. It also has a recording feature so I can now go back and watch myself play and record it so I can watch it again and again and see my mistakes.

The security camera of court number one has a pretty good view of the court and I can watch myself play. I now try to stand on the side closer to the camera so I will have better footage. (I’m not in this pictures.)

It’s a security system, not broadcast TV, so you can’t see all the action very clear. But the best camera is trained right on court one (the court my coach always saves for us) so I can see myself play most nights. Having the court camera also feeds into my FOMO (I can watch what’s happening on nights I’m not there and feel sad) but I like it a lot and sometimes I just check it to see who’s playing and what’s going on.

My coach also watches the cameras from afar as I went in and trained with Yang Ping one day during the holiday and he sent me a screenshot of us practicing from the security cameras. Creepyyyy. Although just to mess with Adi, the worker, I sent him a screenshot of him sitting at the desk playing on his phone during the day when no one was there just to creep him out. So I guess me and my coach are both creeps.

The creepy screenshot my coach sent me. Has a real stalker vibe to it, doesn’t it?

The school semester started and I’m back teaching again and I’m trying to juggle it all. I have a lot on my plate this semester and I need to focus on the book I’m writing, so I’m sadly reducing my badminton hours. I’ll play four times a week this semester instead of my usual six. That gives me two days a week to dedicate on my writing.

I know four times a week is more than most people but it’s giving me real anxiety. I don’t want my coach to think that I’m giving up or less dedicated. I don’t care if other people think I’m lazy or not dedicated or whatever, I just don’t want my coach to think that. He’s never been impressed with someone playing everyday (after all he plays everyday so why can’t other people?) and always encourages more play over less play.

I also don’t want to play less. I like playing everyday. I know that I am probably overtiring my body, and I could probably improve just as fast (or faster) if I cut back my hours. But I don’t really care. I play badminton because I love it and so losing 2 days of playing a week means losing two days of doing something I love. And, if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m also worried about someone coming in and swooping up my title of “favorite apprentice.” While I’m certainly not the best student my coach has, and I don’t learn the quickest, I am by far the most dedicated and determined. But all a new student need do is come in 5 times a week and they steal all that. I know this is a petty, slightly trite, worry but still…it’s on my mind.

The beginning of my semester sets the tone for the next four months, so I gotta make sure I do it right. I’m feeling a bit anxious this week because it is the first week and the end of the semester seems so very far away. I know that once I get into the groove this semester will sail by and I’ll be worried about my next semester plan. Why can’t someone pay me to play badminton. Then I wouldn’t have a lame job getting in the way of badminton schedule!

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