badminton and me…

I first encountered badminton when I was 11, as a grade 5 student. We were outside our classrooms and I saw them playing that game. At that time, I though that the rule of the game was like this: if you attempted to hit the shuttle and you’re not able to hit it, your opponent scores. And one more thing: the playing court is the whole playing area (as in yung lugar kung saan kayo naglalaro, ganun kalawak, haha) and there is a line that divides your court from your opponent’s. The score was up to 5 points and sometimes it takes forever to finish a match, haha. Your opponent has the option not to hit the shuttlecock intentionally, haha. We were using a feather shuttlecock and regulation badminton rackets back then. Regulation racket means that the rackets follow the standards of the real badminton game. At home, we also play badminton. However, instead of the regulation rackets, we use a paddle-like racket. It’s shorter yet a little lighter than the rackets. And the shuttlecock we are using is a plastic one, which is a knock-off of the regulation shuttlecocks. They can fly but they’re wobbly, haha. Still, we follow the same rules as mentioned. It’s really fun to play that game. Then I bought a pair of regulation rackets worth PHP100 (yeah, the cheap, colorful ones).

plastic paddles

knock-off shuttlecocks

regulation racket

I was freshman in high school when the game was formally introduced to me. I learned that the rules mentioned earlier are wrong (super wrong, haha) And from there, I learned the jump smash. Nobody taught me how to do that. I just thought that I could score easily if I can hit the shuttle from above with pace and power. At that time, a badminton tournament was being held in our school. Some of my classmates convinced me to join but I refused and said that I am not that prepared enough for such a tournament. During our break times or when our teacher is not around, when I bring my racket to school, we always play badminton. There was a time that I played badminton for 2 straight hours without having to rest. I felt that time that we’re training even if there’s no upcoming tournament, haha. It was 2003 when my cousin (second cousin I think) bought me a badminton racket as my birthday present. I was intrigued why there’s only one racket in the bag. The sports shop assistants told me that a competition level racket is not available as pairs. This is because of the player’s preferences. From there, I started doing minor researches about the game and how to improve my playing style. It was 2005 when I first joined a badminton competition. The format is simple: single-round robin for each year level and whoever makes it to the top, the best freshman will face the best sophomore on the lower division and likewise,  junior vs senior in the upper division. Luckily, I was the one who topped in the junior division and I faced a player whom I once met before. During our breaks, we we’re playing in the badminton court and suddenly, he appeared and borrowed the racket from my partner and we began playing. Then he smashed at me, targeting my abdominal area and instantly returned his smash with a block drop.

Lin Dan after smashing

He was pinned in his position and I won the point. Then he challenged me (pustahan actually, haha) but I refused. I don’t play badminton for money, haha. Then the upper division finals came. As he was choosing his racket, he chose my racket (the birthday present). I was trying to get it back but he insisted. Instead, I borrowed the racket of my PE teacher (it was a Yonex Muscle Power if I am not mistaken, haha). Then the first set began. The match was held on a morning but my class is in the afternoon. So in terms of “moral support”, I almost have none, haha. Actually, there was. From the balcony of our library, they can see the badminton court and my classmates cheered me during the game (including my ex-gf). I scored first, 1-0. Then he came with 3 straight points, 1-3. I tried to get close, 3-3 and got the lead 4-3 when I realized a strategy that can be used against him: I changed my racket, and used my spare racket which is good in defence. Since then, I won the first set 15-7 (not sure of the score, haha). In the second set, I dominated and won the game 15-4 and won the championship.

When I entered college, I chose badminton to be my first PE and I got enlisted to a terror instructor, haha. She said on our first meeting that she only gives two grades: 3.00 or 5.00, but I got 2.50! Haha! Honestly, despite of being strict, I learned a lot from her and I also made more researches of the game. The old scoring system changed from server-point system, in which the player gets a point during his/her serve (during high school) to the rally-point system in which either player can score even if he/she is not serving (just like volleyball). From there, I tried to improve my game as a singles player (I had a 10-1 win-loss record during my PE in singles) and also as a doubles player (I was a bad player in doubles before, haha).  I took a break in playing badminton for a year and prepared for an inter-department tournament in our college. The one who encouraged me to join the tournament is the one who blemished my 10-0 record in my badminton class. He wasn’t my classmate but we’re under the same instructor. We did some little training because the tournament is a doubles tournament. We have no idea what kind of doubles tournament are we really joining, haha, until the tournament itself: it was mixed doubles.

2008 Beijing Olmypic Mixed Doubles Gold Medalists - South Korea's Lee Hyo Jung & Lee Yong Dae

So, who the hell is our girl partner? Haha. We actually met her on the tournament day itself and she really did well. Although, there we’re lapses in our plays since I was trying to adjust in her playing style. And everything went fine since we got 3rd place (out of 6, haha). I joined the same tournament the next year but without my friend anymore (he transferred to another college). The girl partner I played was also absent that day since she had a fieldtrip. Yet, I didn’t play doubles; there was a singles category at that time and I played all the matches. The results? I lost all matches, haha. I did a minor training the summer before that tournament but I focused on the doubles at that time. Doubles play is really different from singles play, that’s what I realized. For the rest of the year, I rested a bit but did minor games with friends. I joined again the next year (which was last year) without having the intention to join at all, haha. It went well since I know my girl partner and substitute players at that time and once again, we got 3rd place. As of now, I am actually preparing to join again this year, this time with an approach that I never did to one of my trainings from previous years: going strategic and aggressive. My trainings before was purely defensive, and it actually paid off. Some of our opponents are really good players and we really need to have a good defence for us to survive the game. This time, it’s gonna be different, haha.

In the future, I may still prefer playing badminton as my sport. I am not that old but I know my physical abilities will deteriorate with age. Yet, I guess this sport is really for me. I like fast game plays, smashes, moving around, diving and all, haha. It’s a sport that is easy to learn yet quite complicated to improve on. Nice game everyone.

Lin Dan doing a "buwis-buhay" dive

2 Responses

  1. gusto ko matry yung plastic paddle! :))

    • nung kabataan ko kasi may ganyan, haha, pero hindi talaga siya ganyan, mas maliit pa nga yata yun, haha… tapos dapat yung shuttlecock mo diyan yung plastic kasi di lilipad ng malayo yung feathers… haha…

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