There’s nothing like a change in equipment to screw up your long-practiced, hard-earned muscle memory. Nhu and I have been training hard here at Teamplay Internet Cafe, in Markham; we’ve been coming here twice a week, for 6-7 hours at a time, trying to get our games going on these international tables.
Nhu and I have almost exclusively been playing on Tornado for the last few years. Our shots and passes have undergone thousands of hours of practice until the strokes have become completely unconscious, and near perfectly consistent. Now, in order to prepare for the World Cup, we’ve had to start practicing on the only international tables that we have access to here: Bonzini and Garlando. Though we’ve had a bit of playing time on Bonzini before, the Garlando is almost a brand-new experience. Those perfect strokes and near-unconscious muscle memory that we valued ever so much? GONE.
Let’s try an analogy. If you’ve ever played hockey, maybe you’ve spent some time working on a wrist shot. You’re able to snap it off hard and fast, and have it so accurate that you can pinpoint any part of the net that the goalie’s not even thinking about. Now, let’s change out your hockey stick, and give you one that’s had a 20 pound weight added in the blade; that’s just one of the transition points from Tornado to Bonzini. The playing figures on the Tornado are completely plastic, and counter-weighted; the figures on the Bonzini are metal, and heavily weighted in the foot.
But wait, we’re not done yet – before we start the third period, we’re gonna swap out that heavy-blade stick with a stick that has a shaft that’s about a foot and a half shorter than the one you’re used to, with a blade that’s half the width; now that’s Garlando. Figures with tiny, thin feet that are shorter than we’re used to. The fun doesn’t end there, of course – they also have a net that’s about 25% bigger than Tornado! Smaller goalie figures and bigger nets make for a defensive nightmare.
When we started on these tables a couple of months ago, we felt like we had no hope – but with somewhere between 12 and 15 hours of training per week, we’re starting to get the lay of the land. Our shots and passes are starting to be a bit more crisp, a bit more unraceable, a bit more competitive, every time we get out there. We’re starting to feel like we’ll have a real chance on the other country’s home tables. Like we’ll be able to represent Canada as the champions that it deserves.
Time to start watching videos of the opposing countries’ players! … while working on my giant final assignments for this semester.