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11-01-2012, 11:40 PM #1
Guidelines for competitive players - how to prepare/play against an unknown opponent
I've seen this happen time and time again. In competitive play. At Internationals, GP/GPGs, SS tournaments. At WJCs...
And of course, at your local badminton courts...
A recognised and well-known player will lose against an unknown person, an indefinable entity. Because the unknown's style of play, or level or capabilities, or strengths or weaknesses are, well, unknown!
Maybe the well-known player (usually seeded) has not had the opportunity to study the play of the "unknown." Maybe the seeded player's coach or support team does not have any material of the opponent to work with.
Maybe, the seeded player is just too sure of winning. Maybe the philosophy is "you can't prepare for everythng you don't know about; what will happen, will happen."
And you know what? It's not just badminton. It happens in many other sports!
So, my question is: Can the people here at BC come up with a really good set of guidelines for players to follow under these circumstances, to reduce (if not completely remove) the chances of the "shock upset"?
There are many qualified people here: coaches, pro and competitive players, internationals, managers etc. And also, many enthusiasts who have great ideas, and who are observant and clear-headed. I invite all of you to voice your recommendations, thoughts, doubts, prescriptions and guidelines.
I am sure it will help many thousands of players and enthusiasts all over the world!
11-01-2012, 11:51 PM #2
Play safe game in the first set with rallies and watch out for certain patterns of play i.e drops, smashes etc. Avoid too much anticipation in the first set.
2nd set , let it rip and hope for the best
11-02-2012, 07:48 AM #3
Why does anyone watch a game in the first place?? Because you never know what may happen on a given day! Only inveterate gamblers want a sure thing.
That's why I gave up on PAW'ing almost as soon as I started. Betting took the enjoyment out of surprise results.
There is enough calculation and conniving in organized sports already. If someone figures a way to further the sterile scientific way of eliminating all unusual outcomes, then this 'enthusiast' will not be watching anymore.
(After all, what other hope can a Canadian badminton fan hold, except for an upset win?!)
11-02-2012, 08:38 AM #4
In my opinion, it is very exciting and entertaining when we witness a surprise when a regular player at tourney losing to someone which is irregular. For example when Chen Long lost to Kevin Cordon of Guatemala at 2011 World Championship.
cobalt stands in the player perspective whereby a player which is a regular enroller in a tourney facing someone which is irregular enroller to the tourney, hence on that situation, the regular player have the disadvantage over his opponent, provided irregular enroller has done their homework well of studying their opponent before. On the other side of the court, Fidget stands on the sport perspective in general whereby sudden upsets are like opening up Birthday presents to make the atmosphere more lively. Both of them have their own good point which we should appreciate.
If i were the regular player who face unknown player. I will make use of warming up stage to explore my opponent up, provided i play in Single department. I will try every angle of smashes, figuring out which angle give my opponent hard time to retrieve. Testing up his backhand must be in my agenda too as well as netshot. Game time on the 1st set will be used as confirmation stage based on the knowledge i gain during warming up period since not every players really showing what they are capable of during warming up. If i were playing in Double department, i can not make use of warming up period, since i will spend it with my regular partner. Thus, I and my partner will play a so called safe 1st set to explore our opponents up. Trying every angle of smash to every opponents will be our top priority as well as net shot, flat drive, etc. For playing Single and Double, we shall not forget to make a sudden injection of speed, in order to get the idea of how the opponent will react. Additionally, we could make the use of some mind games, just like what BoMo does. After we are fully confident on what our opponents capable of, we would then play at our best possible level by attacking their weakness. We must also warn ourselves of not taking every opponents easy.
By doing all this, i believe regular player has done their very best of winning the match since it is the main objective of every players. Nonetheless, by doing all of the guidelines, it is still not guaranteed that more experience player will win the match, since unexpected situation do occur, not to mention the pressure he has to take on when facing so called inexperience player while inexperience player should bear less pressure. There will still be surprises. Just wait and see.
11-03-2012, 09:29 PM #5
I'm not looking for a completely sterile/scientific solution to eliminate all possibility of upsets, no! However, I'm pretty sure that the steps and prodceures to reduce the chances and actually prepare and execute a strategy of reduced risk in a competitive environment has actually been thought out, if not documented by many of the brains here on this forum.
Speaking of which, where the heck are they, anyway?? Ogling LCW/WMC pics?
11-11-2012, 10:16 AM #6
Some interesting points raised here. Thought I would post a few of my own thoughts.
Firstly - in mens doubles, I do not think there needs to be nearly so much focus on sussing out your opponents. My reasoning is simply this: I think in high level mens doubles, your goal is to overwhelm your opponents using your speed and power. You will be persistent - good serves, aggressive returns, and look to dominate the net. You will do anything you can to keep control of the net, knowing that constant aggression is the key. Thus, before the game, I do not think players are likely to worry about what their opponents are good at or bad at.
However, the other disciplines are a little different. Those require, in my opinion, more tactics to overcome an opponent. Hence, there is more focus on observing your opponent, and devising a game plan.
Others have alluded to observing what opponents are good at and bad at.
For me personally, my focus when I play against an opponent is to first observe where their strengths and weaknesses are in their movement - I don't care about their shots! I want to know if they are particularly bad at particular types of movement, and then I will pressurise any movement deficit I see - are they bad at deep lunges? are they slow to move long distances? are they bad at changing direction? is there one corner they are slow into? is there one corner they are bad at returning from (deep forehand rear corner is the most likely!)?
You get the idea. These are the first things I look for. Regardless of their quality of shot, I want to know whether their movement is in any way poor. If so, I will look to win by exploiting that. This also implies that I am less concerned about what shots they are hitting regularly and which ones they are good at.
It will be fairly obvious, fairly early on, whether any of their shots are particularly weak looking i.e. not much power overhead, takes net shots late, not able to impart much spin at the net etc. Against a reasonable opponent, you can probably assume that they have all good shots. Notable ones to look out for (in my book) are the fast angled slices and half smashes - the best players will excel at these shots from unexpected positions (so I watch out for them!). After you have assessed their shots, looking for shot patterns (favourite plays or shots) is the final thing to look for!
Something you can look out for is how much effort they are willing to put in e.g. if forced right to the back with a high deep lift, are they likely to hit their best shots and get behind the shuttle, or do they slow down and play a little more passively? This can indicate "safe zones" to hit to - an opponent might have good shots, but are they willing to put the effort in to use them all the time, or only some times? This also indicates what that players preferred pace of game is - some excellent players will make an awful lot of mistakes if you give them plenty of time - they over think their shots and get annoyed with the slow nature of the game. This is particularly funny
So, having talked a little about what I like to do to assess your opponents strengths and weaknesses, I want to just touch on a sport psychology point as to why some players lose these types of matches - some factors that contribute!
Firstly, I want to ask you whether you ever go on court expecting to win? Or are in a position in a point or in a game where you expect to win? i.e. you can see the opening on court for your smash winner. Or its 20-14 and you think you have the game in the bag. Or you warm up with your opponent and decide this one shouldn't be too difficult.
All of those are examples of you as a player, predicting the future. You are conjuring up the future in your mind, and deciding that is what should come to pass. Some people call this positive thinking. Many psychologists agree this is actually a very detrimental frame of mind to be in. Why? Let me explain. If you make that shot, or you win that game, or you beat that opponent, what do you feel? Joy? No. Satisfaction? No. Relief? Probably - that means you have been anxious before hand, you have put pressure on yourself to make that future come to pass. There is no achievement in it, when you have this frame of mind, it is "your due" - you should have got the outcome, and you did. Big deal.
So what happens afterwards.
You miss that smash into the open court - how do you feel? Disappointed? Embarrassed? "Robbed" of a point? Anxiety. Pressure. Doubt - how could you possibly miss from there? What happens if you miss again? "Not again" if you already missed a few. These are all very negative emotions. Even if you make the next one, you won't feel anything positive - you will feel relief, pressure to continue etc etc - all negative.
You are up 20-14. You deserve to win this game. Your opponent wins three points. Now how do you feel? Nervous? Anxious? How are you playing? The same way that took you to 20-14, or have you eased off? Many players ease off. why? Because they feel it is a sure thing. They know the future. They are going to win the game. Why should they put in the effort? Its a done deal. So when it becomes 20 - 19. You put in more effort. You realise you need to WIN, nobody will give it to you. You lose the point, as your opponent plays a great shot. Now how do you feel? Dejected, demoralised, anxious, angry, frustrated, upset.
You have assessed your opponent before the match starts. You are top seed. You should beat this guy. He doesn't look that good. Its 10 all. Why is it so close? I should be winning? I am better than this guy. I deserve to win. You win that game - you won't even feel good, you will just wonder at why it was so close. If you don't win that game, you feel even worse. You beat yourself up. You doubt yourself, you feel anxious, and all your thoughts are negative. Note - beating him easily in the first game doesn't give you positive feelings - you were supposed to beat him and you did. Big deal. Things get even worse if it gets close in the deciding set.
Hopefully you have all experienced something like this before, and know what I am talking about. Hopefully, you have also played amazingly before - you were fast, strong, deceptive. You won five or six straight points, without being able to remember afterwards what it was you did to win, or how you played so well. This is normally called being in "the zone". Being in "the zone" is where you play your best. It is not positive, or negative, it is completely neutral. You trust your technique, and simply perform. This is the state of mind you should be striving for!
Note: if you haven't lost because of one of these factors, then you were likely beaten because your opponent played better than you. And there is nothing you can do about that. If they hit the lines, so be it. If they have employed some brilliant tactic that draws out constant weak replies from yourself, not matter what you do to try and stop them, so be it. If you weren't beaten because of tactics and skill, you beat yourself.
Anyhoo. Thats enough rambling from me. Hopefully some part of what I said was interesting or helpful, and if not, never mind! Let me know what you think
11-11-2012, 11:05 AM #7
MSeeley, thanks for the breakdown on assessing the different qualities of an opponent. This will come in handy for when I am occasionally called on to give advice to our little juniors at tournaments (no coach am I). Changing the mental bit is the hard part for a player, though. So much of one's thinking patterns and emotional 'reflexes' are set at an early age. Sports psychologists abound these days. They are helpful, but they can't completely change someone's personality to be eternally positive thinkers. Just one thing about how you described mindset in a match: An expectation of winning is not a bad thing ... but expecting to win with no bumps in the road is problematic. Self-belief (not self-delusion) is a good thing . Add 'resilience' to that and you have a winner!
Last edited by Fidget; 11-11-2012 at 11:08 AM.
11-11-2012, 03:44 PM #8
Hi Fidget. Thanks for the comments. I think self belief is a great thing to have and in some ways, that is "positive thinking". However, I think expectation of winning is not in itself a helpful thing for the reasons I hinted at earlier - expecting to win in the wrong way will only give the player pressure and false expectations. Thus, instead of thinking of the outcome, the focus should be on the process! If a player goes on to court knowing that they can play really well, thats excellent. If they also believe that they could win, thats fine. Walking on to court expecting to win, however, has the potential for trouble! I am of the opinion that there is a massive difference between believing you could win (self belief), and expecting to win (predicting the future).
I just want to touch on your point:
"they can't completely change someone's personality to be eternally positive thinkers"
This was what was surprising to me - positive thinking isn't the key. The key is to try and find a state of neutral thinking, neither positive nor negative, so that you can play without restraint or fear - with nothing holding you back!
Thanks again for your comments
11-11-2012, 04:20 PM #9
I think rational self-belief can only be based on a strong foundation of real capability. Just as an example, take Lin Dan. He exudes self-belief from every pore. Even if he has a run of 4-5 bad points, silly strokes, foolish mistakes, you just know the turnaround is coming! That is how strong his self-belief is.
But it is based on a combination of training, skill, technique, physical conditioning, and mental toughness. To assert self-belief without these assets, is IMO just delusion.
But pro players have another asset that recreational, intermediate and other B/C level players do not: they have good coaches in their corner. Guys like Fidget and me, and millions others, do not have this advantage. We need to be able to think for ourselves.
In competitive play, a very good example of this idea in action is Juliane Schenk.
What is our thinking going to be based on? I'd say, unbiased, objective observation, analysis and conclusion. The assumption is that we are, at our level, or at any level, adequately technically and physically prepared to enforce our conclusions.
11-11-2012, 04:56 PM #10
@Matt... Appreciate your post on assessing opponents.
And your discusson on being "in the zone" is very interesting. Sometimes I catch myself in that when I play... that's when there is no time to think and you just trust and free your body and mind to automatically and reflexively play your shots as you've trained countless times to be perfectly over the tape exactly on the line.
Do you have any suggestions on how one can be in the zone more often when playing?
Last edited by visor; 11-11-2012 at 04:59 PM.
11-12-2012, 03:39 AM #11
@cobalt - I think lin dan is an awesome example of mental self belief. Similar to top tennis players Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who are very mentally strong - their self belief under pressure is undeniable. I would love to know what it is they think about when they get down like that. Are they just absolutely sure that if they play to their best, then they can turn it around and win? What I really really want to know is what is it they do to take themselves from not performing that well, to playing the ridiculously sublime! There is some mental shift in their approach to the match, but I couldn't fathom what that is!
As you rightly say though, for us mere mortals, being able to come up with a strategy, implement it, and stick to it, is skill that we should be aspiring to! However, it is difficult to implement and conceive of these strategies, and properly take note of all the evidence in front of us, without keeping a cool and collected head! Too many thoughts of the finish line never fails to make my game deteriorate.
@visor - the short answer is no I wish! Thats what top level coaches are - psychologists who can make their athletes peak mentally (get in the zone) at the correct time! All I can say is what seems to help me: there are two things I need to be able to do when on court.
Firstly, catch any kind of negative thought, or predictive thought, and squash it, replace it with something else - my strategy for the next point is what I normally replace it with.
Secondly, when I do get nervous (and I do - frequently), I need to know how to get my brain back on track - if you are nervous, afraid, angry etc, you are not going to be thinking neutrally, and you will take away the freedom to play the way you want from yourself. In order to banish these feelings, I simply make sure that I take a little time and breathe deeply four times. The first two I look to "inflate my stomach". The second two I look to "inflate my heart". This has the effect of combating the effects of those negative feelings (feeling negative things changes the way you breathe). Once I am breathing properly again, I find my brain starts thinking rationally again, and I am no longer prone to anger or fear or whatever.
This was the advice given to me by the same psychologist that told me about the zone and what it meant. By combining these two things, I find I am able to think straight and avoid negative emotions at all times in all things. Which is helpful, especially when it gets tight in the third set!
11-12-2012, 04:34 AM #12
For a good top ranked player, he/she should have the capability to assess the quality of a player even in those two minutes of warm up. Go for drop shots and check whether he/she is comfortable playing near nets. With assessing he can judge the flexibility of the opponent's body. If he/she is more flexible, he can retrieve anything thrown at him/her. So, accordingly they can change the game plan.
And also physical attributes boost the game to some extent. May be 10 to 20%. Considering the height of the player, you can accordingly plan even before entering the court after making some homeworks.
For players who are taller, you can find weakness in quite few minutes. Whereas for short player, its difficult. Even if he is not able to judge the opponent who is short during the warm up session prior to play, he should come with so many combinations of techniques to know it before attaining the first 10 points. so that, you can discuss that to your coach during mid interval. Even your coach may be watching your play from distance, you are the one who has the advantage of learning his/her weakness more effectively than your coach. This is kind of odd. But it is true. Unseeded players who has the tendency to upset top players should be very dangerous. They should be fast learners. They dont have that pressure first of all playing top ranked players. Only top ranked players need to settle down as quickly as possible with his/her experience in place and making their body to cooperate with their mind to make fine planned shots. For that, they need to concentrate on their diet offcourt. It indirectly assist the mind in doing it. If you eat foods which do not affect liver, then there will be less perspiration or even zero. So, you may perform better.
Food Control => Liver control
Intake Air Control => Lungs Control
If you control these both, you are the champion. All other body parts will dance to the commands given by you perfectly. So, concentrating on body also assists you indirectly in facing unseeded players.. This may be odd . But if you see it with depth, you can find the truth.
Last edited by scorpion1; 11-12-2012 at 04:41 AM.
11-12-2012, 09:01 AM #13
I really doubt your theory about food control & liver effect. I sweat the same no matter what I eat before a game. This only changes when the ventilation breaks down in the court or playing against good opponents.
11-12-2012, 09:44 AM #14
Just for one proof, you can view the following link.
I have still huge huge number of proofs not even from allopathy but also from all other medical sciences.
Regarding the sweating, there are huge number of reasons for it. You two are totally from different genes . If you two eat the same food, that does not mean he should not get sweat. Sweat may be due to some kind of liver damage. For your reference, i simply give one example below..
What Triggers Sweating?
We sweat in a number of situations—for example, when we’re hot, or exercising, or anxious. Eating certain foods, especially alcohol or caffeine, can make us perspire more than usual. So can certain medications, including antibiotics, blood pressure medicines, and even some dietary supplements.
Sweating is, of course, a side effect of fever, and therefore a sign of an illness. But sweating in the absence of a fever can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition, including diabetes, thyroid disorders, liver disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.".
This is just one link. I have numerous references even from ancient siddha medicine and numerous other medical science.
Liver is very essential. Just control your diet and prevent your body from perspiration. If the liver is weak, we cant even perform well during very tense moments. You may be nervous and make mistakes.
Save your liver and perform well.
11-12-2012, 11:31 AM #15
"Some people just sweat more easily than others. It’s in their genetic makeup. Sweating is also more common in individuals who are overweight or out of shape."
So lets try to avoid taking bits of a source out of context, as it could be missleading unless somebody read the article themselves. Your comments may, mistakenly, mean that someone is worried they have liver disease because they sweat a lot. Which is not true.
So, with that in mind - that sweating is a symptom of some medical condition, a fever, emotional, or in response to doing something like exercising or eating, and also bearing in mind that some things - medical conditions, general fitness, being overweight - make sweating worse... Can you point me in the direction of anything that indicates what excessive sweating is... or what kind of things in a diet will reduce your sweat levels?
Please note: I am not expecting a definitive answer, but am interested to know more/read what you have read. I would be interested to know whether it is possible for a single person to put in the same level of physical exertion and under one good diet sweat a certain amount, and under a different better diet sweat even less? What I mean is that that persons body is physically having to work as hard as before, but the difference in diet changes their sweat levels. I am not interested in hearing that bad things are bad for you - you said "If you eat foods which do not affect liver, then there will be less perspiration or even zero" - what kinds of food affect the liver or dont? And by that I mean what "Good foods" have a more negative effect on the liver than "amazing foods". Also, getting fitter and healthier, because of a healthy diet, and thus being more comfortable to do the same physical exercise, with less effort, and therefore sweating less, is not the answer I want to hear. I know from my own experience that as I get better at something, it takes a lot longer before I begin to sweat when doing it - thats nothing to do with my diet, but to do with my becoming accustomed to doing the exercise.
Any reading you could recommend would be greatly appreciated! Preferably links to free articles and whatnot, I am not willing to pay to read research papers etc
11-12-2012, 12:26 PM #16
Interesting that this thread has also brought about 2 very important aspects that we players rarely think about but should... Psychology and diet.
For psychology there was an excellent thread 2 years ago by a sports psychology student in Philippines. I'll have to dig it up.
For diet, it's simple and has nothing to do with sweating at all. It's a matter of what you eat before and after playing that is important. Few hours before, simple to medium complex carbs with low glycemic index, like yams, power bars, etc. Immediately after, fluid and electrolyte replacement, like gatorade. Few hours later, complex carbs and protein replenishment, like pasta and meatballs. It all comes down to digesting the right foods at the right time. Obviously you wouldn't want to scarf down a mega sized hamburger just before your match.
@Matt: interesting about the breathing techniques... Excellent in mind and body control especially re negative emotions like fear, nervousness, anger, performance pressure. About being in the zone, I think we can think of it as being 100% at the present moment, not wasting any energy on worrying about the past (few points, mistakes etc) or the future (performance pressure). Thus freeing ourselves from any unnecessary burdens that may hinder us in the present, which is the only point in time that we are in complete control.
Last edited by visor; 11-12-2012 at 12:36 PM.
11-12-2012, 02:35 PM #17
Originally Posted by visor