This is the second part of our September 2014 feature on after-school sports for kids. For part 1, click here.
Despite government restrictions on the development of golf course in China, the number of fairways and players has increased significantly in recent years. Beijing currently counts at least 60 golf courses. To average people, golf used to be seen as a recreational sport reserved for business people and officials, but this perception is changing.
China already hosts a number of major golf tournaments, including the Volvo China Open and the BMW Asian Open. Next year, the PGA Tour will partner with China Golf Association for a new tour. The fact that the sport is being added to the Olympic program in 2016 – signaling its return to the Olympics for the first time in more than a century – will only fuel further growth in China.
One golf club in Beijing is Citee Golf Performance Centre, which offers golf clinics, a driving range, and PGA coaching. Following a large-scale renovation, the center re-opened in July 2014 with two levels, 38 bays on the range, private coaching rooms, a cafe, and a meeting room. As a performance center, it has the technology to support advanced players and provides a platform for coaches to improve their skills. Citee also runs ASAs through the International School of Beijing and Western Academy of Beijing.
There are three main coaches: Jasmine Wilson (NZPGA AA Professional), Steve Cowan (NZPGA AAA Professional) – both from New Zealand – and David Jiang (CGA Professional) from China. There are currently 100 students in one-on-one coaching sessions and 90 in group sessions.
Junior groups are divided into ages 5-6, 7-10, and 11 and over. Within these age brackets, there are tiers grouped by ability and experience. For the youngest players, training focuses on getting used to the golf clubs, grip, hand-eye coordination, and balance. The center uses simulators and Wii Balance to help students feel comfortable before they go on the range or the green.
Jasmine Wilson is the general manager of Citee. She has been a New Zealand Professional Golfers’ Association (NZPGA) coach since 1998 and moved to Beijing two years ago. As a child, Wilson used to caddy for her father and it wasn’t long before she started hitting some balls herself.
“For me, coaching is about supporting your students,” she says. “It’s not instructional; it’s about helping them become independent and take responsibility for their own learning.”
“It’s no use teaching a performance program if [the student]just wants to play for fun,” she explains. “Golf is a great sport for overall health and fitness, but it also builds confidence, and teaches self-discipline and respect. Whichever path they follow, I’m there to support them.”
How does Wilson keep her students motivated? “Keep showing them the progress they’ve made. This keeps them motivated and gives them a real boost, which will then be reflected in their performance.”
I asked Wilson what has been the highlight of her career so far as a coach. “There’s no one thing,” she says. “Every day is so rewarding, from the kid who hits the ball the furthest they’ve ever hit to the one who had problems with their grip and [for whom]it suddenly just falls into place. This is why I love coaching!”
Advice for parents: Take the kids to a clinic and just let them try it out. Nine times out of ten, they’ll want to sign up and start having coaching.
Peak season(s): March-May, August-November
Citee Golf Performance Centre
RMB 200 per hour (junior golf clinic, 4-6 students max), RMB 300-400 per hour (adult golf clinic, 4 students max), RMB 1,400 per hour (PGA coaching, discounts available for multiple sessions). 1 Xiang Jiang Beilu, Chaoyang District (8430 8226, firstname.lastname@example.org, WeChat ID: citeegolf) www.citeegolf.com 朝阳区香江北路1号
Direct Link Golf
89 Capital Airport Expressway, Shunyi District (8238 8688, email@example.com) www.golfdl.com 顺义区首都机场路89号北京德霖高尔夫旗舰店
Li Na’s Grand Slam win in the 2011 French Open made her the first and only singles champion from an Asian country, sparking interest in tennis across China. For kids looking to study abroad, tennis can be a good route to sports scholarship programs in overseas institutions.
In Beijing, Rising Stars Academy is a bilingual tennis academy that prides itself on a personal approach between the coaches and students. Adam Malarski, the academy’s director, has been coaching in Beijing for three years. He previously worked as the head coach for GS Academy, another tennis academy in Beijing. Malarski holds a Master’s degree in Physical Education from his native Poland. He has also coached in the US, Greece, and in the UK.
“My approach to coaching is holistic,” he says. “You need to be able to teach the basic skills and techniques, but for a good player to become a great player, it requires a lifestyle commitment from your diet to your training regime.”
In addition to the physical dimension, tennis requires mental toughness. “It takes a certain type of personality. It’s very competitive, and not everyone has that drive.”
That said, he recognizes that not everyone wants to go professional. “Many of our students want to play for fun, for the social aspects, or for general fitness,” he says. “Tennis is a lifelong sport and one that will continue to challenge you.”
Keeping students motivated can be a challenge. Most of them know how far they’ve progressed, but it’s good to keep reminding them. “There’s always a breakthrough lesson,” relates Malarski. “It might come early in, it might come after weeks of coaching, and it could be a shot, skill, or even a mental breakthrough. Knowing that this will come acts as a good motivator.”
“For me, there are highs in every lesson I coach,” he says. “[There are] mini-motivators, like when a student improves on their backhand or we reach double figures in a volley. Then there are the bigger motivators, like when I coached a student through to Division One – a goal we both set and achieved together.”
What about the lows? “I had one student who was an excellent football player. When it came to him deciding which sport he wanted to pursue on a more professional level, he chose football. Of course I was disappointed, but I fully understood his reasons and respected his decision. It’s what coaching’s all about.”
Advice for parents: Parents thinking about tennis coaching for their kids must consider their child’s personality. Do they prefer to play individual sports or as part of a team? A one-on-one trial lesson would allow the coach to assess their coordination and fitness level, putting them in a better position to advise parents. If your child decides to pursue tennis, a combination of group and private coaching works best.
Peak season(s): Year-round
Rising Stars Academy
RMB 170-450 per hour (not including court fees) depending on coach level; private, semi-private, or group lessons; and player experience. Coaching takes place at private tennis courts in and around Shunyi, including WAB and Zhongjia Palace Hot Spring Hotel. Rm 305, Pinnacle Plaza, Tianzhu, Shunyi District (5717 1567, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com) www.rsabj.com
Central Forest Tennis Academy 中央林间网球学校
1) Huosha Lu (50m from the west side of Wu Mart) Houshayu, Shunyi District (5619 5856, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.e-tennis.cn/information_en 顺义区后沙峪火沙路（物美5西侧50米); 2) Tianbei Lu (100m north of the Roma Roundabout), Houshayu, Shunyi District 顺义区后沙峪天北路（罗马环岛往北走100米）
1) Crab Island Indoor Tennis Center, 1 Xiedao Lu, Chaoyang District (8478 6866, email@example.com) 朝阳区蟹岛室内网球中心蟹岛路1号; 2) Golden Luck Age Tennis Center, 2 Dongwei Xilu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区金运时代网球中心东苇西路2号
Team sports are a great way for kids to socialize and stay active, but they don’t necessarily appeal to all temperaments. If your kids are music lovers, dance classes could be just the thing to get them moving and unlocking their creative expression.
Dancing is an intensely aerobic activity, and has positive impacts on coordination, flexibility, and endurance. As well as being fun, it can help kids develop self-confidence, discipline, and focus.
Jerry Tse is the founder of Sunshine Studios, an international dance studio based in the UK and China. He has been teaching in Beijing for two years.
Tse has danced in and choreographed music videos, TV shows, events, and concerts for artists such as Busta Rhymes, Omarion, and Mario. He has trained all over the world for the past 12 years, from Los Angeles to London and Tokyo.
“I wasn’t always a dancer,” he says. “I also have a degree in Robotic Engineering and a Master’s in Manufacturing. Once I started dancing and performing, I was hooked. I knew instantly from there that engineering wasn’t for me.”
“I have seen dance change people’s lives,” he continues. “I have taken some kids with very little self-esteem and motivation and completely turned them around into confident people.”
One of Sunshine Studio’s success stories is breakdancer George Sampson, who trained at the Manchester branch and went on to win Britain’s Got Talent and become an international star.
“Few things can top watching a young kid with little skill grow into a strong, confident and happy dancer. When dancers you trained accomplish great things, the feeling is overwhelming,” says Tse. “When you see these kinds of results, you can’t not be proud and love teaching.”
Advice for parents: “Kids respond differently to different people; finding a teacher who they can relate to and get on with is essential,” says Tse. “In dance, the teacher-student relationship is very different when compared to other educational areas. A student can sit in a class and ignore a math teacher all lesson, but you can’t zone out in a dance class. Find a good teacher whose passion and drive motivates your child.”
Peak season(s): Year-round
Sunshine Studios Beijing
Tue 5pm-5.45pm, Sat 10.30am-noon, 12.30pm-2.30pm. Room 5-120 Sanlitun SOHO, Chaoyang District (182 0157 3533, enquiries
@sunshine-studios.cn) www.sunshine-studios.cn 朝阳区5-120室三里屯SOHO
Children’s Academy of Artistic Dance (CAAD) 似翼儿童舞蹈
Mon-Fri 9am-6pm. Office Bldg 1, 10/F, Greenlake Place, Chaoyang District (5928 2170, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.caadance.com.cn 朝阳区观湖国际公寓1号办公楼10层
1) Mon-Fri 4.15pm-8pm, Sat 9am-5pm. Shunyi Center: Rm 2011, Yosemite Clubhouse, 4 Yuyang Lu, Shunyi District (8041 7745, email@example.com) www.danzcentre.com 顺义区后沙峪榆阳路4号优山美地俱乐部2011; 2) Sun 9.30am-6pm. 7 Sanlitun Beixiaojie, Chaoyang District 朝阳区三里屯北小街7号
This article originally appeared on p50-55 of the September 2014 issue of beijingkids. To view it online for free, click here. To find out how you can obtain your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Sally Wilson, Rising Stars Academy, Sunshine Studios Beijing