Dueling Coaches

So in my Monday back-to-back coaching session it finally happened. My coaches disagreed.

After our training, my second coach, Han, showed up and he and my coach chat for a bit (they are friends). Then my coach busied himself and me and Han started hitting it at the net back and forth. My coach comes out of the office with his stuff ready to go and he yelled out at me, “no, no no!” looking at my form.

“You’re not doing it right!” he said telling me to do it another way. Han told me to keep my racket up, but my coach was telling me to drop it between hits.

“I told her to keep the racket up,” Han said.

“Keeping her racket up isn’t important,” he said. “What she needs to do it hold her hand like this,” he said demonstrating. “Like in a smash,” he said.

“in a smash?” Asked Han. “I don’t do that in a smash,” and then they talked (aka disagreed) for a minute and my coach grabbed my racket and him and Han hit back and forth for a minute. (It was funny because my coach had a bag slung over his shoulder, a coat and a capri sun in one hand and my racket in the other. Yet they were really smashing it back and forth.)

I could see Han still disagreed with my coach, and I could see my coach knew he still disagreed. But in China, there is a culture of respecting your elders and my coach, 15+ years older and more experienced than Han, won the respect. So Han just nodded, my coach gave me back my racket and Han didn’t change my technique until my coach was out the door (and out of earshot).

After training Han and I got beef hot pot. Yummmmmm.

Training with two to three coaches every week can bring on some challenges. They all have different styles and approaches. My coach prefers the “unexpected” approach. No matter what we are training he will randomly hit a birdie somewhere else. If I don’t get it, he chides me for not being ready. Like, if we are practicing clears and hitting from the back of the court to the back of the court, he will randomly, and with deception, hit one to the farthest front corner away from me. If I make no move towards it he gets mad, if I make a move but I’m too slow he criticizes me for not being in the proper ready position at all times.

Meanwhile one of the other coaches takes a different approach. When we are working on perfecting a move we take it slow and steady. Shuttles at the same speed, landing in the same place, with him pausing if I get out of rhythm. There is never a surprise and I can just focus on one thing, like where my hand is, and not worry about my feet until the next training time. He focuses on consistency and perfect form every time.

Then my third coach is somewhere in between. Last week we spent an hour on only three moves. We hit quickly without stopping and if I hit it wrong he kinda gave me a few more shots to see if I’ll work it out myself before telling me what I’m doing wrong. He knows that even if you get out of the groove, you can get back into it yourself.

So which approach do I like best? I have to go with my coach, even though it is the most frustrating of the styles. My coach is fast and erratic and has a very limited attention span. We’ll do 5-6 moves in one training session compared to the other coaches 2-3. And I think it has more to do with him just getting bored of doing the same thing then anything with training.

But he always insists I move fast, and he always tries to trick me with the purpose of preparing me for deception shots. In training if I know where to go and what to do, then I can move fluidly and confidently. Then in a game, where the shots aren’t so obvious, I get messed up.

My coach might go fast, and I might feel flustered but that’s more like how you feel in a a game. With the other style of training I can get the move down quicker, but then I’ll mess it all up, or forget about it, during game play. With my coaches style it takes me much longer to get the move down, but then I get it.

I do like my coaches disagreeing though, and I do like learning from several people with several styles. It makes sure my training never becomes stagnant and I never become too accustomed to one method or style.

In other news

I broke my toe nail last week in training and while it looks like not much it hurts like a mo-fo. I broke it on Monday and I powered through playing on Tuesday but every time my toe hit my shoe it was like stubbing my toe on a concrete block. So I *SHOCK GASP* took a few days off.

It looks so tiny and yet it hurts so much. “Tragedy is when I stub my toe. Comedy is when you fall into an open manhole and die.” -Mel Brooks

I hate taking days off, but really, this isn’t something you can power through. Constant knocking against my shoe was clearly making it bleed and swell. It’s still not healed (both coaches were merciful and didn’t force me to train footwork because of it) and will take a few weeks to totally grow back. But it’s getting less sensitive. It’s now like slamming my foot against a wooden sofa instead of concrete so I can handle it. Although I learned the importance of making sure my toe nails are cut low.

Winter has finally arrived in Xiamen, with temps around 17 to 20 degrees Celsius (in the 60’s for you Americans). All you need is a light sweater or coat, but Xiamen people fall apart in this “cold” and this week a lot of people decided not to play because it’s “soooo cold!” So game play has a been a bit boring because I need to find enough other people to play with.

On Sunday I played during the day instead of night and I can usually get a sizable group together for daytime play. But it wasn’t happening this week. There were only three of us and we ended up playing singles for an hour because there was no one else. Then a group of kids started training so we asked some of the parents who were waiting to play with us and they weren’t very good, but we were happy to just have the chance to play doubles for a bit.

Even club night is less crowded than normal, maybe not because of the weather but because students also have final exams coming up and need to study.

But final exams means the end of the semester, which means winter break, which means more time for badminton!


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