Monday, March 25, 2013

Week 12 (2013)

Week 12: March 17-23

Badminton: 2 / 5
School: 4 / 5
Misc: 4 / 5
Overall: 3.3 / 5 

Interesting week as I finally finished all my exams and I could relax a little bit. I also want to try a new thing this week, so I will now add a cliche "Song of the Week" so you can listen to it while you read the blog! Lame? Probably, but oh well. Here is "Purgatorial Road" (AKA Via Purifico) from the Final Fantasy X Piano Collections. I am actually learning how to play it and I'm pretty close to being able to play it decently :)

Although I have finished my exams for now, I still have a group presentation and paper to do for my Muscle Physiology (UBC KIN 462) class. Oddly, I'm the only guy in my group of 5, but hey, I'm definitely not complaining :P Our topic is on creatine supplementation, which has been extremely interesting and rewarding. After about 20 research papers later, I am starting to convince myself that I should be supplementing with creatine for my badminton! Ironically, I did the side effects section, and unless you have kidney problems, you're good to go if you want something extra for strength and power. It's not so useful for endurance athletes, although there have been mixed reports on creatine being an antioxidant. Apparently, it plays a secondary role and is very selective on what it can act as for an antioxidant, and the arginine (an amino acid) part of creatine is what plays the antioxidant role. However, a different study said that supplementation induces oxidative stress. Theoretically though, creatine supplementation is meant to increase your levels of creatine which will aid you the most in those very short bursts of energy (i.e. anaerobic alactic energy system) which neither requires oxygen or builds lactate. It gives you that extra ATP you need at the very start up of exercise. If you are using the aerobic system, which most people do in endurance type exercises, the aerobic energy system is much more effective than the PCr system. That's why, in theory, it probably isn't very useful to endurance athletes. However, if we were to use it for badminton, I think it's good for those quick bursts of energy, where you may go and jump smash and charge the net for a finish. Then, while you rest between rallies, you quickly try to replenish as much of the phosphocreatine stores as possible, so you can repeat it again if necessary. I don't know how practical it is, but I will get a chance to try it out. I think I will wait until after Peru to start my one week loading phase though. Keep in mind as well, maybe 20% of people are non-responders to creatine supplementation.

(Source: Mechanisms of muscular adaptations to creatine supplementation. Rawson & Persky, 2007)

I also learned about Complex Training in my muscle physiology class, as my professor works extensively with rugby athletes. The idea of complex training (CT) is that you do heavy strength exercises between 1 RM to 5 RM lifts, then go into a plyometric or power exercises. For example, doing deadlifts and then going into some power cleans. The idea is that the heavy strength lift will activate your central nervous system (CNS), so in a way it gets your nervous system ready to activate your muscles. To elaborate, I think the idea was that you may only be using Type I and IIa muscle fibers, but with the CNS activation, you can get in those IIb/x fibers to lift even more. It's still a relatively new concept, but it seems to make sense. However, there are drawbacks and if you don't train properly, fatigue is probably your number one problem, as you won't have enough energy to go on with your other workouts. I will clarify this with an example: if I want to train twice a day, with a weight training session as one of those sessions, it is better to do the weights BEFORE. I've always been an advocate of weight training first anyway, but I know some people prefer to do running/training first, then weight training. Regardless, if I did a heavy strength workout first, it might help activate my muscles better for the later session so I can work harder. I'm going to test it out pretty soon, as I need to get back into strength mode as I'm supposed to be in power mode at the moment. It might have to wait until my tournaments and exams are over first!

I didn't like some of the videos I saw, but here's a paper on Complex Training if you are interested:

Badminton has been a bit stale this week because I skipped out on training on Wednesday to go to a resume workshop offered by Canada Sport Institute (CSI) Pacific, which I will talk about in a bit. Unfortunately, my training partners have been rolling ankles the past few weeks, so Friday was a relatively tame day, though I did get a little bit of a hit in, and I had a couple of lessons as well. As I figured that I should do something, I did some heavy squats and I have some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) still lingering right now. However, I hope to amp up the training a bit more next week, as I will try out some of that complex training and I just got some more Yonex Arc Saber 11's! Thank you Yonex Canada! Also got some supplements from CSI Pacific so thanks to them and Pfizer for supporting Canadian athletes!

(Source: Me)

The resume workshop was run by Ken Graham and Kevin Morrison from Adecco. The Adecco group is apparently the world's largest provider of HR solutions so we got some pretty good information on how to do a resume and even how to make a LinkedIn account. I will briefly highlight some of the things we did, so bear with me if you already know how to write an awesome resume, or just skip the paragraph :P I found it quite informative as I've never had to use a resume. However, I figure it's probably something worth learning how to do. Some key things are that people may only spend 10-12 seconds per resume, so long engaging sentences or paragraphs (much like my blog) are not so good on a resume. Keep it less than 2.5-3 pages and have all the main stuff on the first page, and no grammar mistakes (pretty common knowledge here). A trick they said for proofreading though is to read your resume backwards. I guess that might catch spelling errors but I don't know to what extent it will play on grammar. Another thing is not to write anything that can be used to discriminate against you (i.e. political views, religion). The reason is that if they feel there might be conflicts or issues, then they will less likely hire you, based on your views. Some other tips are to explain what your previous company does, or what your role is in certain positions. Also, for sports, you should clarify your role as a National Team athletes, or what it takes to qualify for the Olympics. It's what they were calling the "So what?" editing. It doesn't mean that people won't care, but if you don't tell them the specifics, it's less likely for them to understand what you've gone through. A final point is to be able to identify interests, values, skills, traits, and give examples in a resume. From sport, you can identify how well you take to coaching, talk about the struggles you overcome, how you can stay consistent with training and diet, etc. To finalize, here is an interesting on Social Media video by Erik Qualman who wrote "Socialnomics".

I know this week is a little bit short, but I've been pretty swamped with my research paper for my Muscle Physiology class. Hopefully, I will start working a little earlier on next week's blog! I will be playing in the UBC Tournament at ClearOne (Browngate) over the Easter weekend and hopefully I can spend a bit of that time updating the blog! I will try to take more pictures too!

See you next week! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Week 11 (2013)

Week 11: March 10-16

Badminton: 3/5
School: 3/5
Misc: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

It was a pretty normal week, although I had a midterm in my Neuroanatomy course. Overall, everything went pretty smoothly, badminton included, but I think I'm not getting enough sleep for the amount of training I'm doing. I am starting to feel it significantly, so I will do my best to make adjustments starting this weekend. The next couple of weeks will be quite hefty, as I need to work on a paper and presentation for my Muscle Physiology course, all while training and getting ready for Peru International in April.

The week started off with Biochemisty (UBC BIOC 302) where we are covering DNA structure, including how it works with proteins, coiling, super-coiling, topoisomerases, etc. It's been quite confusing as I do recall learning a bit of stuff from my second year Cell Biology class (which I did terrible on), so I really need to spend some time to review the material this weekend. It sort of makes sense, but it's a bit like learning new material so maybe I just need a little more time to digest it. If you aren't clear about DNA, it is basically the blueprint of your genetic information. Kind of like your genetic fingerprint, you could say. In reference to what I was learning, DNA needs to condense to be packaged into a tiny cell, so you get these supercoils and such, so the function of a topoisomerase (an enzyme) is to help it out when it is underwound or overwound. I know you probably don't care what a topoisomerase is, but what if I said that some antibiotics work that way? For some bacterial infections (which should never be confused with viral infections e.g. cold or flu), you may get antibiotics know as quinolones which will affect the functioning of bacterial topoisomerase. Without the enzyme to make modifications to the bacteria's DNA, it dies. A common drug you may have had at some point is called Ciprofloxacin which is commonly prescribed for urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal problems. Again, this is not medical advice and if you are in search of medical advice, please consult a practicing medical professional, preferably not online. Below is a brief animation of topoisomerases which basically explains everything I said in less than 2 minutes :P

I had my second Neuroanatomy (UBC KIN 473) midterm on Tuesday morning. It was fairly straight forward, but I ended up studying too much, because the assigned readings actually encompassed more than what I needed to know. Basically, I knew things that weren't going to be tested. Useful in general? Yes. Useful for the exam? No! It's one thing to learn extra material, but for the sake of wasting valuable review time, I guess I should have clarified with my professor. In the meantime, we looked at some additional treatments for Parkinson's Disease which involved deep brain stimulation. Basically, an electrode is carefully inserted into the basal ganglia (Globus Pallidus or Subthalamic Nucleus) of the brain. Through magnetic stimulation, the indirect pathway is affected and as the stimulation is reversible and tunable, it can be controlled. The effects can be quite immediate and it is a very remarkable treatment!

My Muscle Physiology (UBC KIN 462) class went over the midterm on Tuesday for most of the class, and we got back into some molecular differences that happen in the cells between resistance training and aerobic exercise. I didn't do very well on the midterm, but it was better than my initial mark. I got a few marks because a couple of points were missed, and it was also nice for the professor to inflate the mark a bit by making the written section worth more. The idea was because the written portion was 4 essay questions, 5 marks apiece, but what probably took the most time to write, was only worth 20/55 marks. So she decided to double it to 10 marks apiece and make it out of 75, and after a couple of corrections, I got boosted almost 5%, making my mark a bit more tolerable so I don't want to walk in front of a bus anymore (metaphorically). Anyway, at the end of the lecture on Thursday, we were discussing concurrent training. A good overview of what it is in found on the Optimal Sports Performance blog as there is no Wikipedia stub. I suppose it is quite new, but as a badminton player, it is a very intriguing question, as badminton is a very mixed type sport in terms of using all the energy systems. I've had discussions with a few players, but what do you think is more important for badminton? Strength/power or endurance? Most importantly, why do you think that way? I will address my thoughts in the next paragraph, but I would like to add a bit more about concurrent training, for those who may be curious. A primary difference between strength training and endurance training at the cellular level is the effect of calcium. In those who are training aerobic endurance, there is more of a calcium dependence, while those who train for strength work more through a calcium independent pathway. Without getting too much into specifics, a key problem with strength training is that there will be hypertrophy (increase in size) of muscles. This increase in size makes it harder for oxygen to diffuse and other substrates to get to where they need to go. It's kind of like working in an office building that gets an expansion. You used to work on the 5th floor, but now you have to work on the 10th floor. So every time you go work, you have to go an extra 5 up and 5 down. In contrast, endurance training has a negative effect on protein synthesis, hence endurance training people don't get bigger; therefore, they don't get stronger (assuming hypertrophy = increase in strength). The picture below is a map of the molecular markers of both training regimes. The dashed line that doesn't have an arrow head means that it is inhibiting (stopping) the thing it points to (Source:

(Original Source: Hawley, 2009)

Well, to compete the discussion on concurrent training, it would be best to try to relate it to badminton. Honestly, I am not too familiar with endurance training except for my preconceptions of LSD (Long Slow Distance, not Lysergic Acid Diethylamide). As primarily a doubles player, I never found it useful (or pleasant for another matter) to do running for long distances for extended periods of time. Even since training for the 2012 Olympics, I never ran more than 20 minutes continuously. However, the question is not so black and white, but at least it's not 50 shades of grey (intent in the pun, not in reading the book). I find that long slow distance is probably never used in badminton, and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) would probably be the best answer for building that aerobic base. I will probably do a bit more research when I have the time, but the way I like to approach badminton is sport-specificity and technique. That should always come as number one. If you cannot hit proper shots, then you will be terribly inefficient and then have to waste a lot of energy trying to retrieve the shuttle because of poor shot quality. After technique, I would go for power training. I think power is essential in being able to generate enough strength and speed into movements or shots that can help you win the rally. However, shot selection is important as well, and there is no reason to do full jump smashes on the backline as it is not to your advantage; ie. it is the wrong shot to hit. That would be a fault on both systems, as you would be wasting valuable energy and hitting a poorly selected shot. After that, I would go into anaerobic training and improving lactate tolerance. Basically, you will probably be working pretty hard running around, but if you move efficiently and take the right chances, you can reduce the amount of 'wasted' energy. Hence you can reduce the lactic build up with every break between rallies, hopefully which you've won. Having a good lactate tolerance will help you maintain a good level of performance at a given level. Finally, the aerobic base, which you probably would be training slightly when you do any anaerobic training, should be the final component. The reason is if you work backwards, you will lose before you get tired, and that's a terrible feeling. It's like, not finishing a test because you ran out of time. I will come back to these points when I have more time to research, as I am spending the whole weekend researching Creatine supplementation, which will probably be a topic that will show up next week!

(Source: Google Image search)

So for my final overview of the Arc Saber 11, I think I will probably switch to it. My shoulder has been acting up a bit and when I switched back to the Arc 10 because I broke my strings on my Arc 11, it felt a bit rough on the shoulder. I am trying to take measures to improve my shoulder health with TRX exercises, resistance band work, and really trying to strengthen my back, but if I'm training often and having to hit smashes, it's probably best to work with a racquet that's compatible with my problem. The racquet is slightly lighter than the Arc 10 (to me), and I think I'm adjusting pretty well to it. Most likely I will try to get a few more and I will be using it for the 2013 Peru International coming up in a few weeks! The flight has been book, I've entered the tournament, but I still need to arrange accommodations, though that should be alright. Not quite sure where we are playing this year as well. Regardless, I'll be armed with some new Yonex gear! Thank you Yonex!

(Source: Me; from Yonex Canada)

So some other stuff that happened this week included a certification fair at UBC for the Kinesiology faculty. It's kind of cool to see what else I can do to supplement my degree and I'm quite interested in getting a CSCS certification from the NSCA. I will do some more research but I think it would be good to supplement my degree, in addition to any coaching certifications for Badminton. Currently I hold a full NCCP Level 2 with a NCCP Level 3 Technical, but I hope to complete the Level 3 NCCP as well. The CSCS certification would make me a much more well-rounded coach for badminton, and perhaps I will looking into being a certified Exercise Physiologist as well. However, I'll need to get the hours for that, but I'm thinking either CSEP or ACSM. Or, if I make it into medical school, then all my money will go there. However, I'm having some second thoughts, as an MPT (Masters of Physiotherapy) can keep me involved in sport. Then... maybe Rio 2016 could be a possibility?

(Source: Me)

Here are some extra things that happened this week. On Monday night, Carmen made me some spaghetti sauce and left me some for lunch for a couple days (see picture). Unfortunately, on Wednesday, she forgot her lunch when she came over so she ended up eating the other half of the spaghetti! Regardless, it was some good homemade sauce and I hope she will make some more next time ;) On Thursday night, I decided to work on an idea I got from a Street Fighter wallpaper I had, as the characters were kind of darkened, with certain parts of their costumes glowing. I decided I would try to duplicate it for badminton and I chose the 2013 Canadian National Team. So I pretty much used Photoshop Touch on my Samsung Note 10.1 and did my best to try to duplicate the idea. Although it wasn't really what I wanted, I finished the rest of the pictures and put them together on PhotoGrid. So, the final result is displayed below (see picture). Lastly, I am trying to sell some used Playstation 3 games! Preferably locally, so if you know anyone is interested in any of the games, please contact me! Nothing is more than $10 :)

(Source: Me)

(Source: Me)

(Source: Me)
Hope you enjoyed this week's blog! See you next time :)

Thanks for visiting!

- Toby

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Week 10 (2013)

So, this will be the first of a new style of blogging. I'm not sure how things will turn out, but bear with me. I hope to write a little more so I don't have to immediately vent on Facebook. If I'm still bothered by something at the end of the week, then maybe it really is important. Otherwise, it's in the past. I will also bold face / highlight the beginning of the paragraph so you know what it's about. I know not everyone is interested in my ramblings, so feel free to pick and choose.

[Week 10]
Badminton: 3/5
School: 2/5
Misc: 3/5

School has been a bit tough this week, getting some of my midterm grades back from last week, which were disappointing. I also dropped my statistics course as I already had a statistics credit, so hopefully I can use my time wisely to catch up with my other courses and train more. I really have nothing against the course, but I'm pretty sure I did pretty terribly that week on all my midterms. The irony is that I dropped Statistics because I was afraid it would skew my average negatively. I actually don't mind Statistics at all. It helps me understand research papers better, and probabilities are cool too, but I don't think we would be cover it in that class. I went and returned my textbook as well. As I'm now missing a bit of KIN credit, I will be taking a course on coaching in the summer to finish my degree.

In Muscle Physiology (UBC KIN 462), we are starting a new unit on training adaptations. We are highlighting the two extremes, which would be Resistance Training and Aerobic Endurance. I suppose there are parts of both in badminton, but I'm definitely more interested in resistance training. I don't think I've ran more than 20 minutes straight in a very long time, and I don't see why I need to as well. For a Kinesiology course, I find it gets a little too detailed, going into biochemistry and molecular biology. I know it's a Physiology course, but it feels so in depth at times that it's like a Faculty of Science - Physiology course. For example, for hypertrophy (increase in muscle cell size as an effect of resistance training), is a calcium independent pathway due to IGF-1 release, which works through 2 different pathways: 1) The PI3K - Akt pathway [via A) PI3K-Akt-mTOR, B) PI3K-Akt-GSK3B, C) PI3K-Akt-FOXO-MuRF1/MAFbx] and 2) Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK pathway. So you can see that you probably just skimmed through all those letters and acronyms and continued reading here. I don't blame you, but to me, this feels like memory work in a way. It doesn't look too much better on a diagram, but this is what I'm struggling with now I guess. If I didn't take biochemistry, I don't know how I would approach this course. For example, PI3K, is phophatidylinositol 3-kinase, which makes no sense to most people (even in my class). From my biochem class, we actually had to draw the structure of it, so at least I can give a good guess. I'm not going to look it up, but if I had to really guess what it was, it's probably an enzyme that adds a phosphate and is some kind of cell membrane receptor. The structure of phosphatidylinositol is actually kind of close to trigylcerides or triacyglycerols, or... fat! Too many triacylglycerols contribute to that much dreaded body fat that people are constantly trying to lose (albeit a bit too quickly at one, I might say). Regardless, glycerol is a sugar backbone which carries 3 chains of fatty acids, unsaturated or saturated. So, if I remember correctly, phosphatidylinositol has a glycerol back bone, 2 fatty acids, and the 3rd one consists of a phosphate and an inositol, which is kind of like a 6 ringed sugar with a bunch of alcohol groups with some that can be phosphorylated (add phosphate). The term 'kinase' refers to an enzyme that adds a phosphate group to something. ANYWAY... perhaps this level of understanding isn't needed, but it bothers me to just memorize PI3K. Another example, which I haven't researched on is GSK3B. It's not GlaxoSmithKline, and the B stands for Beta. So, is there an... Alpha? Why is it 3? Perhaps I'm going to far...

KIN 462 Notes (Source: Me)

So in my actual Biochemistry class (UBC BIOC 302), we are doing Nucleic Acids now. We did Fats and Proteins for the first midterm, which didn't go so well, so at least it's more of a new start I guess. If I could take a couple sentences to vent about the midterm, it's not that I don't know my stuff. I studied hard for the exam, even with jetlag and all, but I don't know if it wasn't enough, or if all their questions are like 2 scales above the question you typically see. It's like training for a high school or varsity level tournament, and you play against an International level player. Sure, you know the basic concepts, but apply it in THIS situation! Perhaps I need to dig deeper with my studying and know a little more than I'm expected, but I wouldn't know which direction to take. Anyway, that was like a small paragraph, so some cool things we covered were purine and pyramidine synthesis. What are those? Well, what are nucleic acids? They are structures made with a base, a sugar, and a phosphate backbone and it's the structure of your DNA! So, we definitely need the stuff. As you may or may not know, DNA makes RNA, which makes Protein, so it's quite useful stuff. Something which may be more interesting is that the breakdown of the bases (purines) leads to uric acid and elevated levels of uric acid in the blood can lead to gout! Basically, uric acid crystals form in the extremities and cause the surrounding area to be inflamed. So, a treatment that they use in medicine is a chemical called allopurinol which is supposed to be very similar in structure to hypoxanthine, a structure leading to the formation of uric acid. Allopurinol works to compete with hypoxanthine and ends up inhibiting the enzyme xanthine oxidase, which leads to uric acid. By inhibiting the enzyme, less uric acid is made. See, now THAT is cool. Allopurinol is also a treatment for Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome (Juvenile gout) in which there is an HGPRT deficiency due to a genetic condition. And lastly, as a disclaimer, this is biochemistry and NOT medical advice... anywhere on my blog.


Neuroanatomy (UBC KIN 473) was straight forward this week, but that's because we are doing a midterm next Tuesday. I'm not quite ready yet, but I hope to be ready by the end of this weekend (even with a loss of an hour from Daylight Savings "Spring Forward"), and review on Monday. We did a lot more stuff on motor pathways and upper/lower motor neuron lesions in the first midterm, so this time we will be covering more on the ascending sensory pathways and other structures, like the Basal Ganglia. We also covered Parkinson's Disease (PD) for the majority of the previous class which was pretty cool, as we saw a lot of videos on symptoms, treatments, and the Hoehn and Yahr scale which is used to assess the severity of PD symptoms. So, the 4 hallmark symptoms of PD are bradykinesia (slow & small movements), resting tremor (involuntary shaking at rest), rigidity (stiffness caused by increase in muscle tone), and postural instability. Treatment is usually done by trying to replace dopamine levels, as PD is caused by a degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the Substantia Nigra, a region in the mid-brain. Unfortunately, the brain has this thing called the blood-brain barrier which is very selective on what can go through, so a precursor to dopamine, L-DOPA, is taken instead. L-DOPA looks a lot like the amino acid Tyrosine, which is a non-essential amino acid in the body, only if you are supplementing with Phenylalanine, which would be an essential one. And for those with a genetic defect in converting phenylalanine to tyrosine, you would get someone with Phenylketonuria (PKU). Pretty cool how things tie together, but to finish off with the PD, treatments are very dosage sensitive and there are on-off swings, where 'off' gives severe PD symptoms, and 'on with dyskinesia' leads to some weird abnormal movements. By far the coolest thing I saw about PD, is that a lot of people suffer from 'freezing', where they cannot start a movement. But if there is some type of visual cue, such as a line on the floor to step over, they can actual step over it with their gait looking a lot like normal! See the video:

This week I'm back on my Power Training program and it's been going pretty well, especially with a new TRX-like suspension trainer to work with. I went to Fitness Depot and bought some bumper plates, a 20kg kettlebell, and a suspension trainer, so I hope to get in a bunch of new exercise to rehab my injuries and to strengthen myself with a lot of body weight exercises. The exercises are quite challenging, but I'm able to do a few of them, so in addition to my Power Cleans and Jump Shrugs, I can do rows and push-ups, hamstring curls, and other exercises I wasn't really able to do with the equipment available at ClearOne. I'm only hoping to supplement my badminton as I'm not doing crazy workouts, so I'm just hoping to add a bit extra before my training sessions. Typically, I use two programs and alternate between programs whenever I decide to have a weight training session. My core lifts are Power Cleans and Jump Shrugs, and I throw in about 4-5 suspension trainer exercises, with at least one per session working on my shoulders and back to compensate for the badminton, as I'm constantly throwing my shoulder forward and not so much the other way, which can lead to a major imbalance, which then may lead to injury. I also make sure I take at least a day off between workouts (i.e. 48 hours, not 24 hours), as rest is important (in addition to nutrition) to help the muscles recuperate and get stronger. Anyway, here's a video of some TRX/suspension trainer exercises. I like the first two exercises. The third one seems a bit too tough at the moment :P

I've been doing a lot more footwork for my badminton training, hoping to do at least 15-20 mins before every practice. It seems to be helping tremendously in my movement and I've tried a slight adaptation from what I have observed in the movements of some higher level players. In conjunction with a concept I learned in my Neuromuscular Integration class last year, I'm hoping to develop a more explosive, yet stable footwork base for my badminton. It's not anything new, but I hope to make it look and be as effective as some of the Asian players who move in a similar fashion. The connection with my sport science class is that fact that in gait (walking), the point of greatest instability is not when one foot is in mid-air. It is right when the foot comes down and both feet are in contact with the ground in that instant. I think the reason why is because both feet are on the floor at the same time, there is no saving mechanism because the feet are in an unmovable position until the weight transfer is complete. Given that concept, I am trying not to have both feet on the ground at the same time and instead, slow down the speed of my final steps to the center and use it to push off to the next shot instead. A good example of this is watching Alex Pang in the 2013 Canadian Nationals.

Got the new Yonex Arc Saber 11! I strung it up and it's quite similar to the Arc Saber 10 when I hit overhead shots, but it feels a bit light when I do my pushes and drives. It's not as good as the Arc 10 for me so far, but I need to do a bit more testing. I've played with it twice, with the second time being much better than the first try. Maybe I'll finalize the review next week, after I try it again on Sunday! Overall, it's a pretty good racquet, but I'm not used to the lightness of the head (compared with the 10). Kind of reminds me a bit of the Arc Saber Z-Slash, but not as much of a difference. I definitely like the look of the racquet though :)

Yonex Arc Saber 11 (Source: Me)

The 2013 All England Super Series Premier is this week. Some people asked me why I didn't go, but it's because I had exams the previous week (hence, I missed Germany as well). I saw that Michelle Li had a really good run at Eriko Hirose (JPN) so it's nice to see that she's getting closer and closer to challenging the top players! In other tournament news, I will be attending the 2013 Peru International in April, and the next one after that will likely be the 2013 Sudirman Cup! I think this would actually be my first Sudirman Cup, so that will be really cool, as a figure of speech, because Malaysia is going to be very hot! I like Malaysia, but I end up getting sick there... oh well, I'll be more careful this time. The selection criteria has been posted on Badminton Canada so expect the majority of the teams that performed well at the 2013 Canadian Nationals to be there.

(Source: BWF)

At UBC Bookstore, they had a 'Student Appreciation Day' and offered some good discounts on a lot of their merchandise, including clothing, stationary, and general books (non-course related). I stumbled upon Ben Goldacre's 'Bad Science'. He's a UK physician turned epidemiologist and has a column in The Guardian newspaper that tries to debunk bad science. Here's what it's about, as I haven't read the whole book yet:

"We are obsessed with our health. And yet — from the media's "world-expert microbiologist" with a mail-order Ph.D. in his garden shed laboratory, and via multiple health scares and miracle cures — we are constantly bombarded with inaccurate, contradictory, and sometimes even misleading information. Until now. Ben Goldacre masterfully dismantles the questionable science behind some of the great drug trials, court cases, and missed opportunities of our time, but he also goes further: out of the bullshit, he shows us the fascinating story of how we know what we know, and gives us the tools to uncover bad science for ourselves." - from

It seems like a good read, as it's quite entertaining. I'm hoping to get a copy of "Bad Pharma" when it comes out, which is about the problems of publication bias and more. If you aren't sure about the book, please check out Ben Goldacre on TED. He has two different talks and they are both pretty interesting and he is a pretty good speaker.

(Source: Me)

Well, for some, the sciences aren't quite as interesting, and it was a pleasant surprise when my girlfriend, Carmen, bought me the second Cyanide and Happiness book! Although terribly crude (to most people), I find it ironic that I am quoting the rapper Eminem, when he said in his song, "Say What You Say",

"I joke when I say I'm the best, in the booth, / But a lot of truth is said in jest" 

As he is also terribly crude to some as well, these comics are not for everyone. I will attach a comic which is generally tolerable to most, but they can get quite obscene (you have been warned!). However, if that's what you are looking for, you hit the jackpot for some good laughs ;)

(Source: /
(Source: Me)

McDonald's has coupons! I know, I'm an athlete and I shouldn't be endorsing McDonalds, but I really wonder how bad it could be? When you go eat at McDonalds, you go once in a while (i.e. once a week) and you just have a typical meal, which will cost maybe 1000 calories for a Big Mac meal for $5.50 or so, depending on where you live. Isn't it worse to go to a Cactus Club or a T.G.I.Fridays and have a meal there? Aren't the calories much more in excess of that one McDonald's meal? Would you be having drinks too? So I find it hard to fault McDonald's all the time, I mean they make efforts to follow trends. They got rid of that 'pink slime', they tried to stop using 'trans-fats', and they have excellent coffee! And since it's Roll Up The Rim to Win at Tim Horton's this month, it's interesting to see where people go. As far as I'm concerned, McDonald's has a 100% chance of winning a free coffee if you buy 6 :P And if McDonald's ever wants to sponsor an athlete, I will gladly wear the Golden Arches on my shirt hahaha. Here's an interesting discussion on the '12 Year Old Hamburger' myth. Yeah, I said myth. Click here for the article!


So... I think I'll leave it with that. Interesting enough? See you next week!
- Toby

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Analysis of Austria International 2013

Okay, I mentioned that I should do an analysis on my match and how I look at things, so here you go. It actually took about 90 mins to do just the first set, but hopefully this will be useful for some. At the same time, you can learn how to beat me :) As much as I wanted to be objective, bear in mind that with any analysis, there will always be some bias. If you don't agree with something, that's fine. It's just the way I saw it. Any feedback is welcomed!

2013 Austria International - XD QF - Game 1 ONLY

0-0: Shuttle hits net cord at 00:51

1-0: Good finishing shot by Grace as she took it early enough to get angle. Doesn't have to be a hard shot; taking it earlier/faster is more effective usually

1-1: I hit the shot a little bit inside, allowing the opponent to hit cross court. If I hit a bit faster and more into the alley, they probably would have to hit straight instead.

2-1: Low percentage cross court net attempt by THA

2-2: This one is interesting. @01:49, you can see that I could have probably hit a hard BH drive, but Grace reached back and could only play soft. Furthermore, it put her out of position and I had to get the cross court net return. You can see that the distance is pretty much the same between Grace and I at 01:50. My lift was a little too low and it would have helped if it went a little bit more wide, but I think the smash was defendable. Grace's swing was too big (you can see a huge backswing at 01:52). 

3-2: The lift at 02:07 should have been my shot as I would have been in position. It would be more favourable for me to hit as it would be an easy FH shot for me instead of an 'around the head' by Grace. The second lift DEFINITELY should have been mine and if you pause at 02:09, we are very close together in the back. Grace's recovery after the second shot was also slow and she could have challenged at the net (at 2:10, you can see that the opponent (girl) is not even at the service line yet). The final shot by Grace should have been taken a little bit earlier as she was a bit too far back, which is probably why it went into the net.

4-2: Good guess by Grace. It paid off well.

3-4: Serve return pushed out the back by THA

4-4: I hit a pretty bad shot. It was a bit of a guess, because if I hit a straight shot too loose, usually it's a good FH drive chance by the opponent. Unfortunately, the opponent is left handed, and he picked a very good spot to get the point. If I want to hit that crosscourt shot, I need to hit it significantly earlier than I did, or hit a straight drive/lift, or maybe just a quick crosscourt net shot.

5-4: Deceiving flick by THA; notice Grace generally uses a LF serve return.

6-4: Bad lift. It may have been deep enough, but it was not in the corner enough. However Grace hit a really good return, but she could not capitalize on the next shot. If you watch her return, it's very flat; so much that the opponent could only hit something flat back. That is a good opportunity to try to move forward a bit and get angle, or redirect. However, it could be possible that she didn't really see the shuttle as the big yellow sign in the background posed difficulties every now and then.

7-4: Better lift this time, but that prompted the guy to smash at me. My return was a little loose, but it was salvageable. Notice that Grace flips her racquet right before her defense at 03:37. Weird. 

8-4: My serve return was a little loose, but I evened it out with the next shot. After Grace's backcourt shot, her recovery was a little slow and she then went to lift at 03:58. If you pause the video and look at the positioning, you can see that it would be really easy for her to block and follow it in. As she is on the same side as the opponent's guy, it would be quite awkward for him to challenge her at the net. If she had blocked, we would have gotten a lift or maybe a rising midcourt shot. Because of the lift, they smashed and I had to cover a very large percentage of the court (I hit the shot at 4:00). The defensive shot wasn't great, but there was a bit of confusion with THA so Grace should really have tried to get herself to the front. Again, you can see that because she isn't moving forward, I have to move in to the middle and she is stuck at the back. If I stay near the back, they would easily see room for a cross court block and neither of us would probably be able to get it. In the end, we lucked out and Grace did a good job of changing her spots on her smashes.

5-8: Although the opponent pushed it at me, as long as I hit it back early enough, I'm pretty safe (instead of like, trying to hit a hard drive). At 04:30, Grace's net kill was much too soft, prompting a cross court return by Issara. Grace really could have used an Imogen Bankier flying crosscourt net, or a similar shot that the Thailand girl hit on me at 1-1. Anyway, I hit a pretty good cross court return to keep the rally even and followed up with a smash chance which I was generally ready for. However the smash was a bit too flat (not enough angle) but Issara made an unforced error. The smash wasn't fast enough and it was in a good position for THA to counter, so it was more or less a lucky point for us.

6-8: Fault on Grace's serve. Service judge said double motion.

9-6: At 05:16, I've set myself up for a FH attack drive change, but because Grace made an attempt at it, I was too late and had to play a neutral straight shot. At 05:20, I had another chance at my attack drive and this time it worked out and I followed up my shot for the finish.

7-9: Nice try by Grace but too much backswing (which may have caused the error).

10-7: Unforced error.

8-10: This is a good exampe of how hard it can be to challenge the girl at the front (as the guy). He has to keep track of both Grace and I and it's not easy to do so. But in order to cause this problem, I have to be moving around too and making sure I cover any loose shots. It's much easier for the opponent if I'm just standing around in the back.

9-10: Unforced serve error.

Interval: If I had to give any coaching advice, I wouldn't have too much to say. Some basic things aren't happening that should be happening anyway and it doesn't seem like coaching really to 'follow your shots', 'be ready for a second shot', and 'challenge at the front'. The reason is that if we have to reiterate this point, what were we even doing in the first place?

11-9: 07:20 Grace's shot would have probably cost us the rally if our opponent was right handed. She should not reach back like that. Perhaps a block or a crosscourt net would be useful, but somehow we lucked out as Issara just blocked it back. My crosscourt BH was a bit risky, but it was fast enough and far enough to get the point. Any less of either could have cost us the rally.

10-11: The rally starts off with my crosscourt lift to push the girl back and try a smash. It is weird, because to me, it seems like it's a really good way to take advantage of the rally with some mixed teams. Even though you shouldn't lift so that the straight smash is on your partner, I think it's different if you can do two things: 1) the girl is the one smashing (not the guy), 2) the girl has to do a smash while traveling backwards. This gives a flat smash advantage and if I were Grace, I would try to take the smash much closer and try to convert right away. The only time this might not work so well is if the opponent's guy is a front court MD player and is comfortable to let the girl smash in the back. Considering that I was the one returning it and I'm CLOSER than Grace if you compare our positioning at 07:35, a simple block shot was enough to set up the rest of the rally. Because Grace was moving in to the front, the guy lost track of what I was doing and I could capitalize on a midcourt winner.

11-11: Good flick, weak return, but we didn't capitalize. Not a good lift again, but lucked out on the unforced error (as you can see from my expression at 07:59).

12-11: Probably should have been finished at 08:11 by Grace, but I don't know why she jumped like that. Even just pressuring with a fast drive again is better. With a slow block, the opponent can easily lift it to the back and we have to restart the entire rally again. I also should have attacked the final shot as well. The difference is that I took my shot too early, while Grace too hers too late.

12-12: Good flat rally. I hit the net cord on the serve return, but Issara hit a very good counter cross court net. Still not sure why Grace was so far back, as it is NOT a favourable position for us with her in the back. However, she did a good job to hit a net shot instead of lifting it. Some mediocre flat play but I suppose it was quick enough that nobody was able to capitalize on, though Grace needs to have her racquet up and just pick one side if she wants to be involved. The racquet fake out at 08:42 makes it hard for me as I end up hitting pure reaction shots. At 08:45, we would have lost the rally if Issara played a cross court net shot back to our BH corner. The proper way to set up here is for Grace to take the net and force him to lift the shuttle over her to the midcourt. That is where I can get a FH attack drive chance and Grace can finish up anything at the front. For Grace to move back instead and hit at 08:46 is really more of a doubles thing. The final shot at the end should probably have been Grace's shot, but I don't want to take any chances. It's always harder for the opponent if the front person (in this case me) hits it because there is less time to react. It's a lot easier to react to the same person attacking, but imagine someone jumps right in and hits it sooner than you expect.

13-12: Perfect example of two things I've said earlier: 1) It's hard for the back person when there is a lot of racquet waving without hitting, and 2) If you want to cut off a shot at the front, you need to prepare beforehand. Grace reacts to the flat shot and it throws off my timing, and it's usually not favorable. Because the racquet is not 'up', she can't hit 'down'.

13-13: Good shot by Issara. This one is up to interpretation. The serve return should either be harder down the center, softer at the girl, or more toward the sides. It's a huge angle to cover. I think there was also mis-judgement on my part because I let it drop.

14-13: This is an example of a bad return. It may have clipped the net cord, but it's also a combination of the things I said in the previous point (13-13). If I was Grace, I probably would have ducked at the front. Apology at 09:45.

15-13: Unforced error.

16-13: @10:10 Grace is moving back again. Cross body smash. I think I got lucky there.

14-16: Another kind of flat rally. I still think Grace is too far back because it's awkward for me to come in and keep things flat and still have to prepare the backcourt. I can't really block either because she's too far back and the opponent can simply re-net. From there, I either commit to the net and have her in the back (not recommended), or continue to play flat until something happens (best case scenario).

17-14: If Grace was closer at 10:42, I would probably be able to attack. @10:48 this is what I mean to follow up your shot on defense if you hit a good shot and your opponent is late (actually, might have been able to win the point on a cross drive here). Again, Grace is way too far back and there's nobody at the net. I obviously can't move in, though I would if it was Men's Doubles. Good set up for the FH attack, but the drive was too loose. As Grace's racquet came up only as the opponent hit, there was no saving of that rally.

18-14: Could have been a better lift.

19-14: Good defense by Grace. I suppose a combination of pushing it to the corner on my side and Issara's crosscourt smash made it easy enough for Grace to counter and move in. If Grace did that more often in this match, it would have been a whole different game.

15-19: Unforced error.

16-19: Because Grace didn't reach, I could come in and just drive it down. Didn't have to be a winner or anything, just to keep it down. Grace's block was a little off, as I was out to drive it again, but Issara didn't push it far enough to the corner so I was able to cut if off and get good angle. Would have been much different if he got it to the corner.

17-19: Good flick and more aggressive play by Grace.

18-19: Probably should have hit straight, but good shot into the corner by Issara. 

20-18: Unforced error.