Sunday, 30 January 2011
The good effects of badminton
The badminton facilities in The Dolphin Leisure Centre at Haywards Heath show up nicely. That's my friend R--- in the lower shot, and we're just about to set to. I won't tell you the score, nor who won the most games, but I secretly handicapped her with a beef casserole to die for earlier on, which must have weighed her down like a ball and chain! But we both played well, getting in some cracking shots over the net. And that's one of the good things about badminton - you can be less than a champion, but still regularly play shots to be proud of, even if many are flukes aided by mysterious breezes and the intervention of gods.
But I'd praise the game for other reasons.
First, it gets you fitter, toning up muscles that (in my own case) hardly get a twitch otherwise.
Second, it boosts the diet, using up at least some calories. But you must be careful not to have any kind of snack once back home afterwards, because the good work will be undone if you do.
Third, it sharpens your wits. You have to think pretty fast. Ditsy people like me need to have their brain cells stirred into action at least once a week!
Fourth, you can show off your girly arms and your girly figure, not so much to attract attention, but to give yourself confidence that your arms and legs and parts in between are worth showing, that they really are shapely and natural-looking, and absolutely like the parts exhibited by the girls on adjacent courts. Maybe you'll actually be less flabby and plagued by cellulite, and therefore enviable.They'll notice, believe me.
Fifth, you can practice being graceful and light-footed, and standing to receive shots as a girl would stand. Boys are stiff and inelegant; they slouch and crouch; and they they plod and lumber. Even a fat girl moves in a liquid and flowing way, that belies her actual weight. So be a ballerina, not the Incredible Hulk.
Sixth, you can practice your 'excited voice' - not the careful female voice that you use in conversation, but the loud, gasping, competitive, sometimes anguished or triumphant cries and shreiks and laughs that girls emit when pushed hard, or getting in an amazing shot. These are as hard as sneezing. You absolutely must sound like a girl would in these pressured circumstances, and it needs a lot of attention. Imagine plunging into a pool that is much colder than you thought: you must give the right kind of scream. That's what I mean.
But there are things to watch. Do not fall into the male mindset of 'must win'. It's a friendly game - skilful yes, definitely worth playing well, but the score really doesn't matter. You're being uncharacteristically ungirly and Olympic if you play ruthlessly to win. Remember: ordinary girls want to co-operate and have a nice chat afterwards, they're not out for blood or glory, and they're not normally showoffs. Quite apart from the fact that intense, frowning concentration looks a bit over-serious and gladiator-like. And you want to avoid working up a sweat. You absolutely don't want to look hot and flustered and annoyed.
And pay attention to your hair! Girl pat theirs all the time, and flick it out of their eyes. Do the same. I think I made a mistake wearing that shiny black plastic hairband in the pictures above. All wrong. It was a practical improvisation on the night, but it detracted from the female look, and revealed just how artificial my painted-on eyebrows were. The other girls playing nearby didn't wear hairbands, even though they mostly had fringes; They relied on keeping cool and the regular hair flick. Lesson learned!
Finally, don't do as I've done here, reveal The Word as if reciting from tablets of stone!
R--- and I have two more sessions now, then badminton must stop for quite a while, until I can safely play a game without popping stitches or collapsing in exhaustion after five minutes. I will miss it through the early summer.