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  1. #1
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    Default Review: Vip Malixi and Butch Oreta's book

    "Advanced badminton techniques" by Vip Malixi and Butch Oreta

    Main book thread; includes ordering information and sample pages:
    http://www.badmintonforum.com/vb/showthread.php?t=30515

    The title is appropriate, because unlike most badminton books it goes into detail about advanced techniques. For example, it covers tumble net shots and sliced drop shots.

    For comparison, I have two other badminton books: Crowood Sports Guides, Badminton by John Edwards; and The Skills of the Game, Badminton by Peter Roper. I also have the Jake Downey instructional tome.


    Presentation and methods of explanation

    The style of teaching is unusual. For most of the techniques, this book gives several different sets of explanation and photographs to illustrate. You can usually see the same stroke from many different angles, and also variations on the stroke.

    This means that a single stroke spans many pages with lots of near-repetition; but in my view, the repetition is worthwhile because it allows players to consider the same idea from different perspectives.

    The photographs and drawings are of inconsistent quality. Some of them are clear and helpful; some are blurry, confusing and inadequate. Sometimes the formatting is too creative: it is difficult to understand a long series of tiny photographs rotated 90 degrees and trailing down the edge of the page! Yet the repetition usually cancels out the problem of a bad photo, a confusing illustration, or weird formatting.

    Butch Oreta models all the strokes; you never see another player. His technique, as shown in the photos, can sometimes appear rather shaky. He sometimes looks awkward and unbalanced. Occasionally he looks positively absurd.

    In most of these cases, I believe the poor appearance of his technique is due to a lack of dynamic movement; for example, there are many photos showing him performing a smash without lifting his feet off the ground. This may be an artifact of taking the photos (it is harder to get a clean photo if the player is moving).

    If you can look beyond this apparent awkwardness, and concentrate on the rest of the technique, his demonstrations are accurate.

    The book gives excellent advice for correcting common faults. For example, the book tells you not to hit a backhand overhead with the shuttle directly above you -- but also not to hit the shuttle way out to the side. The illustrations and metaphors are very helpful for understanding these common faults.


    Quality of writing


    The writing is a little loose at times, and could benefit from tighter editing. Occasionally sentences or phrases are repeated by mistake. Sometimes Vip gets carried away and makes an absurd statement, under the exuberant intoxication of bombast or hyperbole: "the incredible processing power of your brain will just take a nanosecond (one billionth of a second) to process what kind of shot your opponent made and where it's going".

    No it won't; that's unsubstantiated, exaggerated, windy nonsense. Visual stimuli take about 20-40 milliseconds to reach the brain, and the total reaction time to visual stimuli is no lower than about 180 milliseconds (or 180,000,000 nanoseconds). That claim is wrong by 8 orders of magnitude.

    On the other hand, Vip often uses colourful metaphors to good effect. I particularly like the metaphor that compares the racket movement for a tumble net shot motion to wiping a bowling ball. The principle of using several different metaphors is a very good idea, because it increases the chance that one of them will "click" in the reader's mind.

    Some of the terms are unfamiliar to me, and I don't think all of them are helpful. Both powerful and soft hitting actions are described by the term "push-hit", which fails to explain the fundamental technical differences between a soft push action, a tap/rebound hitting action, and an unrestrained whip action with follow-through. Perhaps these terms have different and more familiar uses in the Phillipenes.


    Grips


    The grips advice is much better than most books. It distinguishes two basic versions of the backhand and forehand grips: "standard" and "passed body". Many books advise using a standard backhand "thumb grip" to hit backhand clears; this one correctly emphasises the need for a different grip.

    The "passed body" forehand grip, however, is ridiculous; I cannot imagine anyone hitting a good power stroke with a grip held in the fingertips and a wide-open palm. Badminton England's equivalent grip is far more sensible.


    Specific errors in the techniques teaching


    Although the technical information is usually correct, there are a few dubious elements. I have already mentioned the silly "passed body" forehand grip.

    The brush net kill (though it is not so named) technique is fundamentally confused: Butch says that you should first hit the shuttle down, and then retreat the racket with a swiping motion. This is entirely pointless, because the whole purpose of a brush net kill is to avoid the forward hitting motion that will touch the net.

    Vip writes that "Beginners' [brush net kills] are weak because they hit the shuttle with the swiping motion rather than first hitting the shuttle before swiping." Actually, those beginners have the right idea! But why are beginners playing brush net kills anyway?

    It may be that Vip is actually trying to describe an ordinary "tapping" net kill, rather than the ultra-tight brush kill. The photographs, however, suggest otherwise: they show a classic "shuttle stuck onto the net cord" brush net kill practice. In any case, I find it either highly misleading or just plain wrong.

    The preparation for returning serve in doubles suggests that you cock your wrist back. Butch appears to be holding a panhandle grip and his racket is well above the level of his head. Professional players don't do this; they hold the racket lower (not far above net height) and they do not cock their wrists back. They use a roughly neutral grip, although some are biased towards forehand or backhand.

    In the smash defence section, Butch teaches a "backhand for every smash" method. He claims that the Koreans have developed this technique so that they never need to use a forehand; but this is not true. Although many international players will use this method when under extreme pressure, it is a last resort. Watch Kim Dong Moon: his forehand smash returns are pretty damn good! Lee Jae Bok, also Korean, is adamant against the use of this technique.

    This section also incorrectly recommends a "standard" backhand grip for defence. Using this "thumb down the flat part of the racket" grip will inhibit forearm rotation and greatly reduce the power of defensive lifts and drives.

    To Vip and Butch's credit, they recognise that many players prefer to use a neutral ready position and play either forehand or backhand strokes; and they say this is an acceptable alternative. To their detriment, they do not give any technical explanation of this "alternative" technique.


    Tactics

    The tactics section is confused: much of the advice is actually about technique. There is almost nothing about stroke selection in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. For stroke selection, you will be much better off reading the Peter Roper book.

    The doubles positioning section, however, goes beyond the basics: it covers a positional situation where the front player is at an extreme front corner and the back player must cover the other three corners. It does not cover the converse situation, where the back player is under pressure and the front player must cover three corners.


    Extras

    The e-book version comes with a few free online videos, and the promise of free updates to the book over time. Since Vip fulfilled his promise about the videos, I expect he will fulfil his promise about updating the book. For this reason, I would recommend the e-book version over the print version.

    The web service appears to be down at the moment, so I will comment on the videos when it comes back up (either that or I've made a mistake with my password).


    Conclusion


    The negative information above may suggest that I disliked the book. That is not true. If I had disliked the book, I would have written a dismissive review rather than criticised it in detail. My detailed criticism indicates my respect for the authors.

    Overall, I think this is one of the better badminton books available. Its technical content, though not flawless, is far superior to the Roper or Edwards books. It makes some fairly subtle distinctions that are either missed or glossed over by the others.

    There are occasional technical errors, and the tactics section is weak; but these are minor points. Much of the good technical detail in this book is lacking in most other books.

    I recommend this book, with only this reservation: like any book, don't treat it as gospel. A few techniques are wrong, but most are great.

    I also believe that the badminton community should encourage and support semi-amateur community projects such as this one. Vip's service to his customers is exemplary (he'll always answer questions in the BC thread), and his dedication to this project is admirable. He has also refrained from propaganda-style testimonials, and instead has posted critical comments from readers as well as positive ones.

    In other words, this book is the genuine article. It's not perfect (what is?), but it's not bullsh*t either (*cough* E-1000 *cough*). Recommended

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    Excellent review, Gollum ... good independent write-up. Nice "swipe" at the end!

    -dave

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    The review is way too strict.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrueBlue
    The review is way too strict.
    Could we perhapse benefit from your review? The more points of view the more accurate the picture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrueBlue
    The review is way too strict.
    How do you mean way too "strict"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by wood_22_chuck
    Excellent review, Gollum ... good independent write-up. Nice "swipe" at the end!

    -dave

    Agree, thanks for the review Gollum.

    So is it Gollum Approved?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrueBlue
    The review is way too strict.
    Perhaps; but did you read to the end as well?

    For clarification: I recommend this book. It is good

    My criticisms may be read alongside the book, so that you know what sections to be sceptical about (if you choose to trust my judgement).

    If the book had taught me something new and exciting, then I would be more effusive in my praise. As it is, I know all this stuff already. Yet only an exceptionally insightful book would teach me something new and exciting about badminton.

    Therefore my reaction is this: good, solid, accurate book; fewer errors than most books; plentiful illustrating photographs and metaphors.

    While coaches and advanced players may not learn anything new from it, most players will benefit from its detailed instruction. Besides, it's always good to absorb the ideas of respected coaches like Butch Oreta; every such perspective is valuable. I do not regret spending $30 on this book at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum
    I do not regret spending $30 on this book at all.
    That's what we wanted to hear. That's the bottom line; thanks, sir!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DinkAlot
    Agree, thanks for the review Gollum.

    So is it Gollum Approved?
    Yes, this book gets the Gollum Stamp of Approval.

    It doesn't get the Gollum Flamingo of Awe Award, however. But I only hand that award out to the truly inspirational legends.

    So far I have issued only two Flamingoes of Awe: one for Lee Jae Bok (his online videos, his Play to Win video, and his in-person coaching); and one for Xiong Guo Bao (his video available for download here at BC).

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    LMAO! The "Gollum Flamingo of Awe Award"! So funny!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DinkAlot
    LMAO! The "Gollum Flamingo of Awe Award"! So funny!
    Wait till I render a picture

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    *Bump*

    Thanks. Gollum. I have been waiting for an objective review like this one.

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    You write that the brush net kill is without push action because this would make you hit the net. in the book is recommended: 1. push 2. sideward brush.
    The straight follow through would make you hit the net in my opinion. if you first push and then brush sidewards this is avoided.

    It's also not said that a technique used by the pros, as you say about the receiving serve position of the hand, racket is the right one for beginners/advanced players.

    Thats just my impression of the review plus there is no real reference to your opinion because the books you mentioned also don't deal with every aspect of the game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum
    Wait till I render a picture
    Do post a picture!

    Hey I'm thinking that we should start up a wiki project all free by the badminton community. We can start a project at Wiki Books. It's a site that offers free e-book tutorials and text books on just about every subject.

    Here's the site:
    http://www.wikibooks.org

    A short history of badminton (a must read! ):

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    Thanks also for the useful review! How many stars do you rate it out of five?

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    Default Great review!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum
    "Advanced badminton techniques" by Vip Malixi and Butch Oreta

    In other words, this book is the genuine article. It's not perfect (what is?), but it's not bullsh*t either (*cough* E-1000 *cough*). Recommended
    Thanks for the review Gollum. And I'll take your suggestions into consideration for updates of the book.

    Also, what do you think of the extra psychological technique article that's an add-on to the eBook? I'm getting good feedback from people who've tried it here in Manila. They say, it especially helps them during pressure situations and it's helped make their game more consistent. I wonder if you've given it a try.

    Thanks again,

    Vip

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    Quote Originally Posted by vip_m
    Also, what do you think of the extra psychological technique article that's an add-on to the eBook? I'm getting good feedback from people who've tried it here in Manila. They say, it especially helps them during pressure situations and it's helped make their game more consistent. I wonder if you've given it a try.

    Thanks again,

    Vip
    I haven't yet downloaded that article, because I have had some difficulty logging into the web service. It worked fine at first, though I did change my password.

    The web service does not seem to respond for me at the moment, either to "log in" or "change password".

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