For a player who is still in her early days of elite competition, Lauren Lam already misses the atmosphere of the circuit.
The 17-year-old from the USA is among the youngest to compete on the World Tour – she was 15 when she played Super 300 events in Barcelona, Chinese Taipei, Macau and Gwangju in 2018. An understudy of senior pro Beiwen Zhang, Lam was in two semifinals at her last event – the K&D Graphics International Challenge, and had a busy schedule this year before the pandemic put paid to her plans. But it has also given her the time to spend time on another passion – music.
“I miss training and I really miss getting on court and tournaments, and all of that,” the California-based player says. “The first week of lockdown I stopped training, I was watching some old videos and looking back at the memories and how much I’ve grown. I missed that atmosphere at the tournaments, the pressure and the stress.
“At the beginning of the year, I did the whole year’s plan. I was going to train in various places when I went overseas and then play tournaments there, it was all settled. So when this pandemic hit, it was frustrating because I had spent so much time on planning my schedule and all of a sudden it’s gone. I feel very jealous because in some Asian countries they’re allowed to train, I wish I could be training with them.”
While the lockdown has affected her training and tournament schedule, she is thankful for the time it has given her to reflect on her game, besides preparing for her SAT tests and composing music.
“The good thing is that I can take time off to reflect on my badminton game, and that before the pandemic I was stressed about the SAT, which is a major test that is required to get you into US colleges. I was going to take that in March but since the pandemic started, it got cancelled, so that gave me much more time to study more and do more of my homework.
“I have a lot of free time, so I’m producing my music. I’m in the process of composing some songs. As soon as this quarantine is over, I will go to a studio and record it.”
As an independent player, Lam is used to being in charge of her workout regimen, but as she has no access to a court or a gym, she has made the best use of available space and resources, turning her garage into a workout space.
“I barely had any equipment. I had only a treadmill. I needed more training equipment, and I bought an exercise bike, and before the lockdown started on the last day of training, I asked my coach if I could borrow some stuff from the gym, so I got a lot of bands, balance equipment, weights. At home I do a variety of bodyweight, balance and muscle endurance exercises and cardio. I try to have at least two sessions a day.
“Most of my training is at home, but I go out twice a week to get as much outdoors running as I can. Running on the treadmill is different from running outside, and I just think I need a different scenario while training. I go to a local park. It’s pretty big and peaceful, so I just run around there, and I just find the sand boxes, and I sneak in and get as much training as possible.
“I have a workout buddy I train with. Since when I was in Asia or training with Beiwen (Zhang), and my trainers in Asia would teach me different exercises, and when I’m outside or working with my workout buddy, I remember those exercises.”
As for the badminton, Lam contents herself with a few drills.
“The most I can do is forecourt footwork at home and just swinging my racket, and hitting against the wall.”
Having been forced off the game for a few weeks now, Lam reckons she will be more appreciative of it when the circuit begins again.
“Maybe I will look at it differently in a good way, it’s kind of like a signal for me, a reminder for me to cherish every moment more than I did, because there’s only so much time you have in badminton.”