Archive for June, 2018

Tour Diaries with Christopher Pedra

Friday, June 29th, 2018
Day 4 – Round 2 vs Akane Yamaguchi

We found out late last night that Saina would be first out on court 1. Fortunately everyone had a decent sleep as we only had to be on the 11am bus. After a good breakfast we were on the bus to the stadium, which fortunately didn’t get lost this time.

The normal routine went well and all in all there was no sign that things wouldn’t go Saina’s way today. Unfortunately, the beauty of sport is the unpredictable nature of physical competition. Today we were on the wrong side of that competition as things just didn’t seems to land for Saina. All the narrow calls and shuttles on the line went to the Japanese no. 2 ranked player.

Every loss is very disappointing, but as I said, that is sport. No-one can win everything. All you can do is move forward. So tomorrow we start again in preparation for Jakarta next week. Wipe the slate clean and focus on the next game.

I’ll hopefully be writing with more success next week.

Until then…

Tour Diaries With Christopher Pedra

Thursday, June 28th, 2018
Day 3 – Rest day before Round 2

We had a pretty relaxed day today preparing for tomorrow. We’re up against the no. 2 ranked Akane Yamaguchi some time after 1PM. As the draw only comes out once the last game has been played today, we have to prepare to be heading out early, just in case.

Saina had a bit of a hit around lunch time and a small prehab session before some ongoing treatment in the evening. Early to bed and hopefully a good night sleep, should have us in good shape for tomorrow. All in all she’s feeling strong and positive, let’s hope that comes out on the court.

Overall the Indian contingent had a mixed day on court, with Sindu and Shrikanth coming out on top in their respective first round encounters. Unfortunately Sai Praneeth and the young doubles pair of Satwik and Chirag didn’t get through their games.

Until tomorrow…

Tour Diaries With Christopher Pedra

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018
Day 2 – Round 1 vs YIP Pui Yin (Hong Kong)

We had an early start today for a small breakfast before a morning gym session – nice and light, getting moving, and getting in the zone for the first game at 2pm. The bus (despite having a police escort) got lost on the way to the stadium, so having left the hotel at 12.30 we took nearly an hour to travel what should have been 25 minutes. Not ideal preparation but these things happen.

At the courts I don’t really get too involved – Saina has been on tour since she was 12 (with pretty good success!), so she knows how her body should feel before she gets on court for a hit. Where I do offer advice is when there may be something small we’re working on, either strength wise, activation or injury prevention. So I may suggest a small tweak or addition to her usual routine. I’m there to lend a hand if she needs anything but really it’s her and the coach at this time.

Once on court it’s obviously just Saina. And that’s how it should be. Obviously the changeovers and breaks allow for a bit of discussion with the coaches; there may be something that they have picked up in the oppositions tactics or movement etc. that they will relay to Saina and discuss one or two of her tactical approaches. The overriding goal of all preparation for games though, is so that when. The athlete crosses the white line, they just need to think about the scoreboard. Hopefully we’ve done enough prep in the gym, on the court and everywhere else, that Saina just needs to worry about what she does best.

And so it was today, with a pretty convincing display against her opponent from Hong Kong. There were a few issues that couldn’t be helped, specifically the drift in the hall, making judgement of certain shot quite tricky, but Saina settled early and had the momentum throughout.

After a quick stretch and cool down we headed back to the hotel for an early dinner, treatment and rest. Tomorrow is off while the other half of the draw get their respective first round games in, before the second round for everyone on Thursday.

Tour Diaries with Christopher Pedra

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018
Malaysia Open Day 1 – Practice Day

Happy to report that everyone slept well last night and Saina seems to be over the travel. As someone who has been on tour for 16 years, she’s seen plenty of travel at his stage and reports that she rarely has ill effects. India had the practice courts early this morning, so after a quick high protein breakfast we jumped on the bus for 45 minute journey to the Axiata Arena at Bukit Jalil. We shared the practice arena with the Danes, who seem to have a massive squad out for the tournament.

After practice we had a bit of recovery and treatment to manage one or two little niggles that krept up over the past few days while she wasn’t training – she’s generally feeling her best when she’s at it every day and doesn’t enjoy too much time away from the gym/court.

Lunch was a high protein affair at Nando’s (so dependable!) followed by some downtime before evening gym. Myself and @Physioshetty took the opportunity and went exploring KL – I haven’t been here since 2011, so was keen to get back out and about. All I remembered was great food and great people. Also, I remember it felt oddly familiar, almost like Durban, back in South Africa. This time back I’ve been impressed at how clean and well kept the city is, it’s got a great feel and friendly people too. Highly recommended!

The evening gym session went well – we’ve been working hard to get a few processes in place for Saina so that when she gets on court she is in a good rhythm, and this starts with her gym routine. During training weeks we have long term goals in mind, and work on weaknesses and pre-hab. During tournament weeks it’s all about the next day, so we focus on recovery, correct preparation and a lot of muscle and movement activation. There’s no point in trying to fatigue an athlete the day before competition. This time is for sharpening on-court movement and feel, and my job is to get her there safely and with as little fuss as possible. The more I work with athletes, the more I realise the simple approach is the best.

The first round schedule has just come out and we expect Saina to be on court around 2.45pm tomorrow. We’re still technically getting over the travel so still factoring in post-flight recovery (hydration, mobility, sleep). After a little re-assessment and mobility drill, it’s time to wind down and get ready for tomorrow.

Early start tomorrow so hoping for good sleep (for the whole team) again…

Until tomorrow.

Tour Diaries with Christopher Pedra

Monday, June 25th, 2018
Malaysia Open Day 0 – arrival in KL

Arrived early on Sunday Morning after a pretty ordinary overnight flight from Mumbai. Flight was delayed by an hour and a half, so not a great start to the tour for me. I tried as much as I could to sleep but close to impossible for me with limited seating space for 5.5 hours (we flew across in a 737 – the same planes usually used for domestic flights). The hotel this week is great, nice gym and pool for recovery, and we aren’t too far from the stadium – although my taxi driver this morning said that we could take up to an hour to get there based on the traffic! Let’s hope we have escorts, obviously an hour in the car isn’t the best preparation for a Super Series match… We are also directly attached to a large mall with loads of good food options, so good quality nutrition should be easy this week too.

Most of the day consisted of recovery from the flight, which is normal for the travel day. Flights tend to increase the dehydration of athletes, which is exacerbated by drinking caffeinated drinks, alcohol (not in Saina’s case) and general poor nutrition. It’s very hard for an elite athlete to ensure proper nutrition when away from their home country, and unfortunately this starts with the travel period itself. Rehydrating adequately and getting back into a good nutrition routine is the most important aspect of post-travel recovery for athletes. Beyond that the period of immobility (lack of movement while on the plane/bus/taxi etc) also needs to be addressed. We do this with a good mobility and neuro dynamic routine that takes about 15 minutes and is really just a comfortable, low load, low irritation flow of movements addressing all potential problem areas, the nervous system and the mental fatigue side as well. Finally, sleep is a huge issue for any athlete traveling to competition. Crossing time zones further adds to this stress. Getting on top of any potential jet lag is imperative, as we know that crossing time zones is associated with decreased performance for up to 72 hours, so that aspect needs to be minimized as much as possible.

Monday morning see us on the practice court early, while the main courts have been booked for around 11pm – not ideal for anyone playing Tuesday morning… Hopefully tonight’s sleep goes well!