It was raining quite heavily yesterday evening as we made our way to group coaching. My father in law joined us which was good as he plays quite well and with some technique behind him I think he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Once we peeled off our soaked layers, we were ready to begin. We had too many people yesterday so the coach split us into two groups. He showed our group a footwork exercise. I was fascinated by this because he was covering the whole court effortlessly. He showed us multiple times what to do then left us to practice.
Me and my partner (a Chinese girl I hadn’t met before), took one side of the court, while my sister in law and father in law took the other. We were to practice going to the two front corners of the court and the two back corners of the court in the way the coach had shown us while always returning to the middle. 5 turns each then swap.
I watched her as she began, trying to memorise what to do. Her 5 turns finished quite quickly, then I was up! Watching her confused me and I soon realised why. She was left handed!
Naturally when I walk, I always put my right foot forward. Here, I had to learn to put my left foot forward when going to the front right corner. This felt unnatural! I was putting my weight on my right foot and using it to propel my left foot forward towards the net for that first step. I would then put my right foot forward and continue like that until I reached the front right corner. The last step was usually a lunge. The coach wanted us to achieve this in 2-3 steps.
I was using my right foot first to go to the front left corner, which I found a bit easier. The back was a whole confused mess. I have no idea what I was doing when stepping to the back and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t right! Repeating this exercise while concentrating on taking the right steps had me sweating quite quickly.
Next, the coach threw shuttlecocks to the front right corner of the net for us to hit back while doing the correct footwork. While I waited my turn I observed what the others were doing, what their mistakes were and the advice he was giving them. I hardly realised that while watching, I was mirroring the steps behind them!
When it came to my turn, imagine my amazement as I was actually getting to the corner in plenty of time. The coach stopped me at one point to tell me to point my toes towards the shuttlecock. This was a game changer as this would direct me and my racket to the exact spot we needed to be in. He demonstrated that if your toes and consequently your body are pointed toward the shuttlecock, you will be able to stretch further in that direction and reach it. If your toes are facing away, then your knees and your whole body will be facing the wrong way and you won’t reach the shuttlecock. As he lunged to show us, this became so obvious. Light bulb moment!
The coach also showed me that when I take these steps I should not be on the tips of my toes, I should be putting my heel down first as this will help me to spring forward. I just need to remember all of this!
Next up, we practiced our backhand shot with the coach. I started off by feeding the shuttlecocks to my sister in law and was rubbish at this. They just went everywhere. The coach makes it look so easy whereas I throw them around like a drunk chimpanzee.
When it came to my turn to practice with the coach he was so impressed. I was flicking my wrist and the shuttlecock was flying. He asked if I had been practicing, and well, the backhand flick, I haven’t! Don’t get me wrong, it is by no means powerful yet. This is only the second time I have attempted it. The coach told me that the more I practice it, my backhand flick will get more powerful and my wrist will get used to the motion.
The coach concentrated on our group for most of the evening but I think this was because he could see that we were putting in 100% and I think our improvement motivated him. I have noticed that with coaching, you only get what you put in. If you put the effort in, you will gain a lot. If you stand around idle and put in bare minimum effort, then that’s what you will get from it – the bare minimum.
When my husband came in at the end of the coaching session, the coach mentioned twice that I was really good at practicing the backhand shot today! He has never outright complimented me until then. Super chuffed face. I literally skipped out of coaching last night and was carried to the car on a wave of euphoria!