This is going to be a long but worthwhile read. My years of playing many tournaments are over. I played the junior circuit in the Netherlands from 10 to 15 in my youth and then played 4 to 6 tournaments a year until I was around 21 when I moved to London and started having other responsibilities + tournaments aren't nearly as fun if you don't go with a group of friends. In my youth from age 10-15 I was the bottom of the barrel of the local talent selection. I was serious and diligent in training, but never really a contender to be moved up to stronger selections. I was the perfect sparring partner, good enough to make other players better, but never a prospect myself. Still I am very grateful for having been allowed to train with these better players and play in that environment. I would be a far worse player today if I hadn't had that opportunity. The youth circuit was naturally dominated by the various talent selections. So since I was on the lower end of the spectrum I got very good at losing. Sometimes I could get out of the group by beating some local club players, or one of my equally less talented teammates, but I would rarely see a semi final, let alone win anything. Doubles would fare better, because my partner and I played well together, but still I would never win anything. I've always been light on my feet, relatively fast, but not the fastest. I would win games by being consistent and going forever. If it goes to game 3, my winning chances improve. My shots were nothing special, I wasn't particularly powerful. This meant that I would rarely lose to worse players and rarely beat better players. In hindsight this was a bit of a curse, because while other players would have ups and downs, their ups could result in winning something, or making it to a final. I never performed below expectations, but never above it either. Better players never had anything to fear from me. Now, the selection taught me and refined my shots and footwork, but because technical skill is such a difference maker, especially at junior level (kids can't compensate with brute strength, because they don't have any), tactics and strategy isn't really a consideration in training. And since everyone is coached during the tournaments, players aren't really taught to think about how they play, and in many ways are dependent on the coach to make them play better. The job of the system is to create top players, so selecting and training for technical skill is the first priority. The other stuff can be taught later. Fair enough. The selection taught me the shots, but my father, and a coach for much of my life, taught me how to really play badminton. He started playing at age 20, after being a football keeper. So his legs were explosive, but his technical skill was, and has forever remained limited. His technique is reasonable, but it's not pretty or effortless as it can be for those who learn from a young age. He also never developed a true, back-to-back backhand clear. At first, he played like a barbarian . Fast aggressive attacking play with lots of smashes. Doesn't matter if your backhand is ugly when you're fast enough to never play a backhand. Still, someone who can keep cool, or someone experienced who knows what to do will dismantle him. At some point he got an injury. I don't remember what it was exactly, but it was chronic and he didn't want to stop playing. He could still play, but not as fast and ferocious as before. He is a proud person and won't accept this lower level. If he couldn't win games the old way, he would just have to find another way. This is when he really began to think about how to win. Over the course of years, he became very good at masking his backhand. If you asked his opponents after a game they would often not even recognise it as a weakness. His backhand drops were very sharp. Only if you realise that he never actually plays the clear can you take advantage and move in to take his backhand drops earlier. Even then can you rarely kill it because the quality is still high, but a quick net shot to make him run the diagonal should result in the point, be it straight away or after a few shots. This was all before my time as a player. I only know him as a player as someone who is middle-aged and less fit, with a rough technique, but he plays a very dominant game while expending as little energy as possible. He knows when to accelerate, when to take risk, when to slow down, what the opponents weaknesses are. He looks unimpressive from the sidelines, but when you're playing him, you wonder "where did he get all those points?" Since his later game was not built on fitness and technique, but on tactics, match-sense, and mental fortitude, he maintained a relatively high level of play for someone his age and with his limited technique. Now approaching 60, and many injuries later, his level has finally declined in an irreversible way, but as little as a few years ago, he still played very well. As I said, he has been my trainer and coach for a long time. He didn't teach me what shots to play at what moment. He didn't tell me how to play differently when he coached me in games. He would ask me during the intervals and after the game what I thought about it. He doesn't want to make me play better. He wants me to make me play better. His job as a trainer and coach is to create an independent player that isn't dependent on his coach, that can adapt to the circumstances and opponent in-game. Sure he will give actual concrete advice in matches, but always after asking what I thought. But the tactical and strategic awareness isn't his greatest contribution to my game. I sometimes tell other players that I am the most successful badminton player in the world. I then go on to explain that I am very good at fulfilling the purpose of badminton. Which is to enjoy it. I love this game so much. I enjoy playing it so much. This joy helps in games. I rarely get frustrated on court, or give up on the match, even when I'm not playing well, even when I'm losing to people I shouldn't be losing to, or the score seems hopeless. Because even if it's likely that I will lose in the end, I can still successfully enjoy the points that are yet to be played. And if I do that, there is nothing to regret. This enthusiasm I inherited from my dad. I would probably have developed it even in his absence, but the way he talks about badminton makes you want to play. Even now, we can talk about badminton for hours over the phone. Over the past decade(I'm 27), my game has changed. I grew up, I grew adult strength, and suddenly I was faster and more explosive, and suddenly I had a bang of a smash. My net game was always very good. Read more about what kind of player I am here: https://www.badmintoncentral.com/fo...ng-ms-against-md-players.180942/#post-2730916 I should mention that due to the unsustainability of my game (especially when I'm not in top shape), I've gotten better at pacing myself, and picking my opportunities, as well as developed my deceptive ability, which gives me more options to win points, especially when I'm tired. That's all the background done Enter the tournament: Like I said, I don't play many tournaments anymore. I've won tournaments before, but never where I wasn't already the clear favourite to win. The organiser of the singles session I attend on saturday's organises 2 open tournaments a year. Last november I played the tournament. Men's singles. Beforehand I would not consider me a contender to win. Sure I could get to the semi's if things go well, but there are at least 2 players just clearly better than me, and then a handful of players that are either on my level, or slightly better. All matches are 1 game only due to time constraints and because the organiser wants to give all players enough matches, even if they don't make it out of the group. It's not fun paying for a tournament to lose one match and be knocked out. There are 4 groups of 5 to 6 players. Everyone in the group plays everyone else. The top 2 make it into the quarter finals. Against weaker players I like to blow them away out of the gate. To show them on the first point that there is no way they can beat me and to give up. I don't want to play it slow and grind out a win on superior technique and footwork. I don't want to give them hope when they are 12-15 behind and they get a cheap point to make it 13-15. I want to be 10-3 up and keep the lead until the end. Even if I slow down my game, I don't want the opponent to think they can now try and beat me. 3 out of 4 matches go this way. The final player in my group is one of the 2 players that are simply better than me. This guy can match my speed, except he can keep it up for longer. His superior technique means he more options of shot, even when he is under pressure, which makes it harder to anticipate his shots and punish inferior shots (because I can't move too early out of fear of him surprising me with another shot). On my best day I can beat him if he's not up for it on the day. He sometimes has trouble with motivation. We go about even up to 12 points, but I can't keep up the level of play, I get tired, and I get a little impatient. He gets a little lead, and I start playing with more risk, which doesn't work out. He stays solid and wins 21-14. I go through to the quarters as 2nd in the group, so now I have to play the winner of another group. I should mention that person I'm playing now actually beat the 2nd player who is clearly better than me. I don't know how and I didn't see the game, but to put things in perspective: I lose to him 8 times out of 10(and only win when he's not playing well), compared to who I'm playing in the quarters who I go even against.