No More Ping Pong Diplomacy- Chinese Coaches Sharpen Their Skills in the U.S.

cak5Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak stopped practice to admonish his team. Taking note was some of the best junior and high school coaches in China.

“The coaches — they are very passionate when they train their players,” said Sun Fengleng, who coaches in Jilin, a province in China’s northeast. “He is really good with the players, trains them well. I want to learn that attitude and bring it back.”

The Chinese Government sent nearly 100 Chinese junior high and high school coaches in the sports of men’s and women’s basketball, track and field, swimming and cheerleading were sent to Utah, and roughly the same number of Chinese college coaches went to Arizona State, which is also in the Pac-12.

The coaches observed practices and weight-room sessions. They got some time on the court themselves with Utah coaches. They participated in talks on injury rehabilitation and conducted film-room sessions. They even got to see the final bit of this year’s football game against Brigham Young, known locally as the Holy War.

 “They are very effective,” Gu Hong Xia, a woman who coaches a top junior high squad in Nanjing, said through an interpreter, referring to Utah’s coaches and players. “They don’t train for a very long time, but they are very efficient.”

Wang Hui, who coaches in Shanxi, said through an interpreter that his time in Utah had made him feel good about his own post practice rehabilitation practices, which appeared to match Utah’s. More than any technical expertise, the most valuable lesson he learned, he said, concerned “attitude.”

The coaches received their own cultural training, in the form of a seminar in China on how to adjust to U.S. mores.

“They trained us for four days on American culture, manners, and different things — like don’t smoke in the building — and told us to learn as much as we can and bring it back to China, to our players,” Sun said.

December 1, 2016