In the popular Movie/Book series titled "The Hunger Games", we observed something special about Katniss Everdeen that took place at the Training Center before the "games" begin. Her goal during those training sessions is to work on her weaknesses, and not to boast how strong a competitor she really is.
She specifically picks on stations where she can acquire new survival skills, rather than jumping on opportunities where she can show off her superior archery skills. As a result, other competitors (a.k.a tributes) do not find Katniss as much of a threat. But she doesn't pay much attention to other people's opinions. She knows that she can improve her survival skills and that doing so will help her.
But when the time comes for her private audition at the gym, Katniss' goals are different. They are not to learn, but to perform. She wants to show what she can do, so that the judges give her a high rating and gain her sponsors. She initially misses the target, but she quickly adjusts her technique, calms herself down and delivers to her usual standard.
So why do we have to work so hard in training? In those situations where the stakes are high, our main focus is switch from learning to performing as well as we can. Our long journey to improve ourselves over time is not only fulfilling, but also enables us to deliver during these performance situations when it truly matters.
In The Context Of Badminton
ACSIS results, individual ranking and seeding don't measure a player's potential, but what they have learned so far in training. Further focus sessions with the coaches and effective practice will only lead to further improvement.
Understand what is missing during those matches, and players must be reminded that they must not be afraid to take on such opportunities to practice their skills and to identify areas of improvement. We will continue to develop those skills even after the match is over.
Players must learn to look for opportunities to learn from the match. If something was troubling you during the match, you can capture your overall gameplay after the match so that you can later request for an evaluation session with the coach. An open discussion of how other teammates mange to solve that particular problem can help remind everyone that they weren't born with that skill, but acquired through consistent learning.
Reflect on how to better approach performance situations. Performance situations are going to play a big part in your competitive sports journey, and sometimes they can be critical events like a Finals Playoff or even Sudden Death situation. Are we effectively reflecting, identifying, and pursuing what we can learn from the match at all times?
We want to spend most of our time learning and improving, not showing off how good we are. That means that we want to be challenging ourselves to learn things we don't already know, which will involve struggle, mistakes and learning from those mistakes. That growth is fulfilling in and of itself, but it also better equips us to perform better in future matches and performances.
Many of our players only want to do drills that exemplify how great they are in certain strokes like smashing and netting. Do you always get a chance in executing only those specific strokes in a real-match environment? Badminton is a unique sport that demands players to make lightning quick decision and combine all kinds of techniques in a single rally to outwit and outplay your opponent.
Spend more time developing other components of your game. Keep trying to perfect your game until you are able to maintain an all-round performance on a consistent basis. And this will require you to have mastery of all strokes that exist in badminton.
When All Else Fails, Always Fall Back to Learning
Katniss Everdeen is a great archer because she has spent years learning how to use the bow and arrow. Her need to hunt squirrels and birds to feed her family has led her to challenging situations, trying different techniques, and practicing them thoroughly in complex circumstances. When she encountered a new bow at the Training Center, she had to learn how to use it, just as she does when she encounters new situations at home. And when it came time to perform and use her skills at a high level, she was able to do so, to then continue her learning journey.
P.S. This post is inspired by an article written by Eduardo Briceno on "Growth Mindset and Testing: What We Can Learn From The Hunger Games"