Monday, April 03, 2017

Badminton Racket First Impressions: Yonex Voltric Lin Dan (LD) Force

Hey guys, found out some other site's been taking my article wholesale, so be a sport and bookmark the original site - https://everythinggoeshere.blogspot.sg

###

This will be the first of the two rackets that I have lined up for review. I had not wanted to get too many new ones since I can't play at the previous level for awhile, but caved because this racket was too awesome to begin with.

Full on black with silver, red and gold accents, the Yonex Voltric LD Force is the lighter, more manageable variation of the Limited Edition heavy weight. Like all the rackets in the Voltric series, the LD Force has the iconic tri-voltage weights in the top corners as well as the bottom half of the head frame, contributing to an increased swing weight and speed.

The LD Force also has the linked grommet system of its Z-Force 2 brethern, albeit only in the top half of the racket. These I assume will add more weight and support a higher string tension since the linked grommets will prevent the strings from cutting in the racket.

Unlike the Z-Force rackets, the LD Force seems to come in a more flexible shaft, which makes games for beginners like me optimal. Coming off a spine surgery and months of inaction, I am not able to generate enough power in my swings to carry off a match well. The added whip from the shaft of this racket is noticeable and welcome.

Having purchased the 4U version (I got the 3U version of the other racket for review - the Duora Z-Strike) I can also attribute a high defense rating from it's lighter frame. Of course this also meant the attacks from the back suffered a little. Anticipating this, I had it strung with the Yonex BG66 Ultimax at 27lbs.

After an hour on the court today, I could feel the same overwhelming sense of control that comes with the Z-Force family of rackets. The shuttle is extremely obedient, coming off and sticking to the string bed at will. The head heavy orientation and flexible shaft provided much of the attack, while the light weight 4U frame made sure I am not too much of a punching bag.

But like the 4U Z-Force 2, I feel this racket is more suited for doubles play. While packing enough punch for a fast-paced exchange, the lack of full court coverage may prove too much for the singles player.

More time on the court will reveal its true potential. I might actually try to get a proper singles game going for this one.

Till soon!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Back to Basics: Scrubbing the floor

This is a series inspired by the time I spent with a pal of mine, teaching him how to become a better player. I put together all my knowledge from the years in the sport, hoping that it'll work.

Instead of forgetting that it ever happened, I figured I make a series out of it and impart some more knowledge to visitors to the blog who want to know a little about how to become a better player.

Before we start, the obligatory copyright statement. Those who copy, shame on you.

Hey guys, found out some other site's been taking my article wholesale, so be a sport and bookmark the original site - https://everythinggoeshere.blogspot.sg

###

Ok here we go.

Back to Basics: Scrubbing the Floor

What we'll cover today is really rudimentary - bare essentials for any badminton player that I find most often neglected by players who are eager to get into the court and start hitting shuttles about.

It's not hard to smack the bird to and fro the court, but unless you get into a good position beforehand it's really hard to have the shuttle more to wherever you want it to.

So we will start with footwork.

Case in point - Chen Long or Lee Hyun Il. If you've seen those two move about the court you'll know what rock-solid footwork is like. Take moment after this article to watch those two in action and learn what you can.

My first time on court with my friend we didn't even have badminton rackets. A good player starts by knowing how to move about the court. When done right it's a dance; when untrained it's like a bull charging from one place to another, swinging wildly with all their might.

Be the matador, not the creature.

Running the 6's

The game of badminton singles is an elegant one - two opponents dancing around the court, placing the shuttle with accuracy in order to out maneuver each other. And like in any dance, footwork is key.

Shuttles are mainly placed in six points of the court - front left / right, left / right, and back left / right. In this footwork drill you'll want to reach each of the points in as stable a step as possible. Speed is not key. stability is. Remember - be the matador.

Get comfortable prancing from point to point, making sure as much as possible to run in opposite directions. That means you don't run in a straight line from front left to back right, or left to right. The best way to tire your opponents in a game is to send them in different directions, so the lateral movement has to be worked on during training.

And don't discount yourself either. Shuttles will be placed near the net during a drop shot, so move to a position where you can realistically reach the shuttle. For the back court, you have to make sure that both your feet cross the back service line. For the sides, your lunging foot should almost touch the side line.

For players with higher competencies, you can try and time your runs to make sure you get increasingly faster.


Side notes

  • If you notice yourself not reaching the ends of the court consistently, you can try touching a part of the court with your racket instead. That way you can be sure that you're moving as far as realistically possible. 
  • Beginner level players shouldn't worry about the stroke (I'll cover that in the next article), but instead focus on getting from point to point in as efficient a motion as possible.
  • It helps to visualize an opponent in the opposite court, hitting the shuttle at you and moving you about the court. They won't make the game easy for you, so get running.
  • Wear good indoor court shoes when performing the exercise on a badminton court. Using running shoes with black rubber soles will seriously scar the floor and make it dangerous for other players. Also make sure your laces are on tight. Lateral movement involves a lot of twisting and directional changes, so loose shoes may lend to a sprain. 
  • For a reasonably healthy person, you have to reach at least 10 points on the court to consider it a workout. 20 if you're fit. 
  • After running, don't rest. Pick up the shuttle and bounce it around, or do some service practice. 


Thursday, March 09, 2017

I'm baccccckkk.. well, sort of.

This is a quick announcement.

After more than a year of pain, surgery and rehab, I have finally returned to the court!

The rehab process is still in progress at the moment, so I can't do much more than light steps. This makes it perfect for my role now as a trainer for a friend of mine who wants to learn to play the game.

My time as a trainer has helped me re-learn what I have lost. As the student picks up the basic skills of this perfect games, so does the teacher. My precious time back on the court leaves me appreciative of the journey I took to get here, and the people who made it possible.

And for those of you readers who asked about my condition and wished me well, you made the list :)

I look forward to improving my physical condition with each passing day, and perhaps one fine day can go back to a little advanced play.

Happy smashing guys, and thanks for the support.

P.S. I bought the Duora Strike in 3U, and am looking forward to writing about it.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Badminton Trick shots: when you get too much time on the court

Have you noticed that professional badminton players are throwing around a lot of trick shots lately? What used to the realm of Lin Dan and flamboyant doubles players is now becoming more and more commonplace.

When one reaches, or even surpasses their limits against their opponents, they reach a state of comfort in their game play, so much so that they're able to move and hit at their most efficient. This opens up the opportunity for the brain to channel more thoughts beyond where to hit the shuttle next.

This state of mind is, in my opinion, the best time to perform trick shots - highly technical shots made with the purpose of misleading and delaying the opponent's reaction to the shuttle.

When you're facing a tough opponent, it's almost impossible to throw off a good trick shot. The stress of the moment, coupled with the brain dominating in fast decision making processes, make it very hard for the calculated and smooth execution of a trick shot.

Turning the situation around, if you're up against an opponent you're more comfortable with, even if they are of a higher level, your mind starts to wonder what else you can do. The state of mind is then more conducive for a higher level technique. 

The above briefly states the nature of playing trick shots. Given the level of play some readers are used to, and for those aspiring to grow in technique, I will now attempt to explain some of the simpler trick shots I have managed to use with better success. 

Direction Change
This is pretty basic, and involves turning of the racket head away to sent the shuttle in the other direction. The approach should be early and obvious - "I am going to hit the shuttle in this direction." When at the next moment, having given the opponent enough time to process the information, change the destination of the shuttle.

This move is pretty easy to pull off. All you need is to be able to out your racket head forward in one direction and then change the hit to the other desired one. The other two shots are variations of the direction change, and will require a little more practice.

Pull-Back
The shot is made with less power than intended, although a large swing gives the impression of a harder hit. The best time to use this move is when you're being pushed to execute an underarm clear. The opponent will most likely expect a high and defensive clear for you to buy time. 

This move is a test of control of the shuttle. The swing forward should be made at force and speed, and then taken away the moment before the racket head makes contact to perform a dipping net shot. Care has to be taken to place the shuttle as near to the net as possible, to have the cork on a downward trajectory so as to increase the distance between the shuttle and the opponent. 

A variation of this technique is the backspin. Instead of releasing power from the shot, the momentum of the swing is transferred to the shuttle in the form of a slice to the bottom of the cork, like a backspin in a game of tennis. This produces a low-arching shot that can cut very close to teh net and dips quickly. Because of the low arch, the shuttle will most likely travel further than an outright pull-back. 

Double Draw
So you've learnt how to change directions, and you've learnt to control the amount of force you put to the racket. It's now time to take things up a notch and perform what I call a double draw, or double motion. This involves moving the racket to take the shot, and pulling back the racket head before the hit, and then changing the direction of the shuttle. 

This is a little more convincing than a regular direction change in that the player actually commits to a hit, increasing the level of deception and showmanship. The racket head will actually be traveling in the same direction as the shuttle after the draw, and that is one awesome thing to see executed well on the court. 




Saturday, April 09, 2016

Badminton Racket Review: Victor Bravesword 12N and Victor Bravesword 12

Hey guys, found out some other site's been taking my article wholesale, so be a sport and bookmark the original site - http://everythinggoeshere.blogspot.sg

###

First impressions of the 12N here.
First impressions of the 12N versus the 12 here.

In countries like Singapore where space is a constraint, you will find more people playing the game of doubles instead of battling it out one-on-one on the courts. This to me has caused the increasing prominence of pro-doubles rackets in the victor series to rise in popularity.

Among the slew of offerings that doubles players can turn to for a smashing good time, the Victor Bravesword 12 has a firm footing among the most sought after. Given its popularity, the racket maker deemed more fit to release an N version of the racket rather than a new racket altogether.

Banking on the popularity of a staple is one thing, but can the revised racket give doubles players what they're looking for? Is the original a better choice?

I've tested the Bravesword 12N on doubles and singles games, and the Bravesword 12 on doubles games to get some insight. This review will be written quite differently from the others I've done, in that I'm reviewing two rackets at a go in aspects of doubles and singles badminton play.

Here goes.

Note: This is a review of my experience after using the racket for a few sessions. I am by no means a professional player, and so you should take my judgment with a pinch of salt. I welcome comments of any sorts.

Victor Bravesword 12
Est. Dry Weight: 85g (3U)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Even-Balanced
Stiffness: Flexible
Strings: Yonex Nanogy 98 @ 27lbs

Victor Bravesword 12N
Est. Dry Weight: 87g (3U)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Even-Balanced
Stiffness: Stiff
Strings: Yonex BG80 @ 28lbs

Defense:
I've always been a pro-defensive player (don't ask me why my defense is so crappy though), and to me the basis of a good doubles racket starts from its defensive capability. Given the generally fast pace of a doubles rally, the speed and flexibility of a racket to excel in various defensive situations stands above all else.

In this respect the Bravesword 12 performs better than the 12N, mostly due to the lighter weight. With slightly head heavier orientation of the 12, along with the flexible shaft, adds to the power that one can deliver with a good lift off a smash.

With flat fast exchanges, the 12 also performs visibly better, it's lighter weight really adding to the amount of reaction time you can get. The racket is also a monster in the front court, intercepting and finishing off from the poorly placed defensive shot of the opponent.

Away from the game of doubles however, the 12N provides enough defensive advantage to be a good racket for singles play, allowing a higher enough level of control and power over the 12.

In conclusion, I prefer the Bravesword 12 in defense for doubles. Both are equal in the game of singles.

Attack:
Offensive capabilities are probably the most affected by the racket; defense and control are somewhat more player-dependent than equipment-granted.

The lighter weight of the Bravesword 12 loses out here, not allowing enough power for one's game of singles. The more flexible shaft of the 12 allows for a greater potential in the game of doubles, where swings tend to be bigger and more time is given for the big smash.

The stiffer Bravesword 12N gives the single player a greater advantage, allowing for quicker and heavier smashes without the need for a big swing.

In terms of flat and fast drives, the 12N also wins out because you really don't need a lot of back draw to generate an equal amount of strength the Bravesword can deliver.

In conclusion, I prefer the Bravesword 12 in offense for doubles, and the Bravesword 12N for singles.

Control:
The most critical aspect of a player's game is control. There's no point attacking if you can't aim, there's no point defending if you're not able to turn it around to generate a reversal.

This unfortunately, is largely in the hands of the player. The racket can only add that little in terms in control, but there are aspects in the racket that allows the player to place the shuttle where they want to with a certain amount of ease.

In the respect, I felt the Bravesword 12N triumphs over the original. The stiffer shaft and heavier weight allowing for better placement of the shuttle with less effort in the game of singles.

At the front court however, the lighter weight of the Bravesword allowed me to perform a larger variety of tight net shots.

In conclusion: I preferred the Bravesword 12N in the areas of control.

Looks:
The original's blue is striking and offers more character when compared to the 12N's dark grey color scheme. Between the two, I'm placing any preference. I am much more a red / yellow guy.

Bravesword 12
"Doubles' choice."
Defense: 9
Attack: 8
Control: 8
Looks: 6

Bravesword 12N
"Singles powerhouse."
Defense: 8
Attack: 9
Control: 10
Looks: 6