Okay, let me set the scene: A few months ago, Jeff and I had the opportunity to spend some time at one of our official partner's stadium, Unique Badminton Centre. This is a new badminton centre in the inner Eastern suburbs of Victoria and boy have they done it right! They have a refreshingly modern vibe as you enter the stadium, with significant amounts of open space, wooden floorboards and white walls. Beyond the lounge/shop area, there are 22 state of the art badminton courts with high quality mats. In the video below, you'll get a sense of what it looks like.
Now let's get to business. For those of you who don't know Jeff and I. Jeff was the former No.1 Australian Men's Singles player from 2008-2012, having represented Australia at various international tournaments. In this scenario, he is the ex-national player. For those of you who don't know me, I represented South Australia as a junior and later played with Jeff at the University Games for Melbourne University. Today, I am the ex-state player.
How many points did you think I managed to take off Jeff in singles?
Well, the truth is, we didn't play a proper game. What we did do was play points as if we were playing a singles match so we could produce some rallies to provide some entertainment for you. In doing this and editing through the videos, I stumbled upon the idea of writing this blog post because I thought it might be interesting to discuss even if the difference is between two individuals and not general differences between these levels of players. Of course, there will also be a range of skill levels within these categories as well! I was definitely not the best state player going around.
What I found interesting about watching myself play against Jeff was that it really exposed the areas of my game that was in need of improvement. Although Jeff is no longer playing for Australia, the experience, strategy of play, technical skill and his read on the game was still of a different caliber. It didn't take long before Jeff exposed key areas of my game that he could use to his advantage and not only could I visualize it while editing the video, I could feel it when being pushed beyond my level of competence.
Watching myself play did remind me of earlier posts that Jeff wrote called:
and some of the simple yet powerful concepts discussed in those posts. I will discuss two of those in today's blog.
The first thing as highlighted from my struggle in playing against him was that footwork is king. When you can't get there fast enough, every shot you play is at a disadvantage and there's no better way to understand that then to experience the struggle and then have watch it all over again. In the clip below, you can see Jeff pushing me into the back corners of the court, which although I'm able to get to, it was with great difficulty. Ultimately, I end up struggling to get back to the centre of the court and lose the point as the length of the court was just too challenging to cover at that speed and from that far away.
The second thing is choosing my shots wisely. For example, when I chose to play a backhand clear at 0:53 (which was way too short!) instead of moving to play a forehand, which was definitely possible. As you can tell, I leisurely moved to play a backhand instead of moving to play a forehand. Whilst I can normally play a backhand clear from that position relatively easy (not in that rally), moving to play a forehand would have been a high probability shot and I would have been able to do more damage.
So there you have it, the difference between this state player and my co-founder and ex-national player, Jeff Tho.
If you haven't realised by now, Jeff and I love badminton. How we feel when we play the sport, the rich experiences that it has given us and the rock-solid connections we form as part of a community. Speaking of connecting with people, in this podcast episode, we speak to Ferdi Mak. Ferdi is long-time friend of ours, who we would not have met if it weren't for badminton.