On Sunday I had a fantastic coaching session! Usually in group coaching our coach decides what we will learn, which is fine, but on Sunday I had a different coach who asked me what my concerns are. That made me think. What are my concerns?
When put on the spot, I could only think of 3, but I’m sure there’s many more!
- I said, I serve nice and low, but then duck when my opponent returns it, or if I do attempt to hit their return, it doesn’t work out well so I tend to leave it to my partner. This is not good! He seemed to recognise this and said that the third shot catches many people out. Phew!
- I also said to him that I have no idea how to return a smash. I end up either being hit by the smash or narrowly avoiding it.
- The third problem I could think of was returning steep net shots. I was awful at this during the tournament!
So I practiced the third shot. I didn’t always get it, especially if it came back to me fast and flat but my reaction time did improve and I mostly worked on being ready to receive the third shot after serving. Move my feet back, racket up, knees bent. This really helps! I have noticed an improvement since I’ve started doing this. When I played on Monday, I was ready for the third shot and was even a bit more aggressive with this so that it ended up smashed on the floor. Not going to lie – It felt good!
I learnt that in order to return a smash, I don’t need a big swing or much movement. Just a little flick from the floor will do it. The smash will already have speed and power behind it, so I can utilise that with a little flick. As I have never ever attempted this before I missed the majority of them! I did manage to get a couple to flick back up, over the net though! This felt really good, but I think I will need lots of practice to be able to do this. I need to figure out angles and where my racket needs to be.
I spent a while practicing the return of steep net shots. My problem here is my footwork. I don’t get to the corner of the net fast enough. I need to be more efficient with my time. I was shown the split step which you are supposed to do before you launch off in the direction of the shuttlecock. I was doing the split step far too slow. The coach told me that I need to pretend the floor is on fire and do the split step really quickly before moving off. This needs to become habit so I will need to practice this a lot!
I really enjoyed Monday’s no strings session because I was trying to implement all of the above. At times it worked out really well and at times I realised how much practice I need!
Last night I took my niece and nephews trick or treating before my group coaching session. They looked fantastic….I mean scary! We had so much fun and I ate lots of sweet goodies before heading to coaching.
My group coaching session last night was really good! We practiced our forehand some more and my wrist was finally doing what it was meant to do. My coach was pleased! Yay! I realised my grip has a lot to do with this. The looser my grip was on my racket, the more my racket was able to move freely when my wrist flicked. Also, I used to stop my racket after it connected with the shuttlecock, but yesterday I learnt that if I let it go and follow through the movement all the way down, then it is way more powerful! My coach spent a bit longer practicing this with me as he could see I was almost getting it right and wanted to stick with me until I did. I loved it when the shuttlecock was slicing downwards with that satisfying thwack! The sound is completely different when you get it right! Happy days!
We also practiced positioning. Me and my sister in law worked together to cover each other around the court. This was exhausting and sweaty work, but it felt great to see how we were covering the court together! Our coach was shouting out praises as he launched shuttlecocks to the back towards me to clear while my sister in law moved to the front of the court where he would drop the next shot. While she moved to the front, I moved behind her to cover her, she would hit the shuttlecock and return to the centre of her half and I would return to the centre of mine to defend. In the beginning we got a little confused, but after a little while we knew where to go and the pace picked up! I am looking forward to practicing this some more as I can see how useful it would be in a game!
On another note, yesterday I found out that I have two more group coaching sessions, then my coach is going on holiday for 6 weeks! 6 weeks? What will we do?! We have only just started learning positioning!! Ah the crisis! Better make the next two sessions count!
Bring on tonight’s no strings session! I cant wait to use everything we have learnt. I have a cold, but that won’t stop me! I was just thinking I need to eat something to give me some energy when I found a chocolate in my bag. Yay!