Baseball in Shanghai? Another American Sport Exported to China

Written by Richard Robbins

Continued from page 1

On a Wednesday afternoon in May I followedrepparttar directions given to me to meetrepparttar 146695 team atrepparttar 146696 Shanghai Teacher's University on Guilin Road. The field whererepparttar 146697 team practiced wasn't actually a baseball field. It was a general-purpose field used mainly for soccer and track exercises. I have quickly come to understand thatrepparttar 146698 space limitations in Shanghai, similar to most parts of China, make it so that facilities have to double up on their usage. It was amusing to me to watch as we set up for a scrimmage. The areas where right and center field should be was filled with a mix of people, including a few of our people playing those positions, and soccer players who were not inrepparttar 146699 least interested in what we were doing, especially since they were fully engaged in their own game. As fly balls dropped among them, some ofrepparttar 146700 soccer players would pickrepparttar 146701 balls up and toss them back, while others would, with a demonstration of irritation, kick them out ofrepparttar 146702 way. Fortunately forrepparttar 146703 soccer players, none of them were hit.

Many ofrepparttar 146704 baseball players were not so lucky. A healthy fear of hard baseballs traveling at high speeds seems to be second nature for most Americans, as if we are born with an understanding that if a ball is fouled off into someone's face, it's going to hurt like heck at best. Although most of them didn't understand what I was saying, I attempted many times to tell those watchingrepparttar 146705 action to back away fromrepparttar 146706 batter and catcher. During one ten-minute interval, I saw three people get hit hard inrepparttar 146707 face or head by baseballs. Throughoutrepparttar 146708 whole practice there were constant near-misses as well.

On-deck hitters kept withrepparttar 146709 Chinese custom for preserving one's place in line by crowding behindrepparttar 146710 person in front. That approach is okay forrepparttar 146711 local McDonald's. In fact, if you don't push your way up in line, you will find yourself standing inrepparttar 146712 same place for a long time, with person after person jumping in front of you. However, whenrepparttar 146713 person atrepparttar 146714 front ofrepparttar 146715 line is swinging a bat, a different set of rules should apply.

Duringrepparttar 146716 first practice withrepparttar 146717 college players, I was invited to pitch torepparttar 146718 team as they scrimmaged. It soon became apparent that there were various skill levels represented atrepparttar 146719 plate. I was reminded of something I saw in Little League (where kids are usually just beginning to learn how to react to balls thrown towards them) when a particularly nervous batter accidentally stepped in front ofrepparttar 146720 plate, opening up towardsrepparttar 146721 ball so that it hit him directly inrepparttar 146722 stomach. Fortunately I was only throwing about 70 mph, so no major damage was done, except thatrepparttar 146723 player was likely quickly cured of any interest he had inrepparttar 146724 new American sport. After that incidentrepparttar 146725 other players warned me when I was pitching to someone who was new, so I could slow it down enough for them to take some solid cuts.

In a country whererepparttar 146726 sport hasn't really caught on yet, it amazes me that these players respond so well torepparttar 146727 difficulties of learning baseball. It is obvious that many of these people, girls and guys alike, have developed a love and even a passion forrepparttar 146728 game. Before their season started in June, they practiced on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Most practice sessions last five hours or longer. Duringrepparttar 146729 time I have participated with them, I have seen their skills improve, with arm strength increasing and fielding and batting capabilities doingrepparttar 146730 same.

So whenrepparttar 146731 Olympics come to Beijing in 2008, what can we expect fromrepparttar 146732 Chinese team? Will it be somewhat of an embarrassment, likerepparttar 146733 Greek team's performance in 2004? Or willrepparttar 146734 home team have a chance to compete? My personal opinion is thatrepparttar 146735 competition level doesn't exist in China now forrepparttar 146736 national team to compete withrepparttar 146737 likes of Japan, Taiwan,repparttar 146738 U.S., or Cuba. However, if they can get enough exposure by playing outside of China, they might just pull off a medal. As forrepparttar 146739 long-term outlook on baseball in China, comments made by someone who has more experience withrepparttar 146740 system, as an investor and active baseball supporter in China, give a pretty good take onrepparttar 146741 subject. When I mentioned to him that I was considering opening a baseball retail store or batting cage in Shanghai, one ofrepparttar 146742 founders ofrepparttar 146743 CBL told me that it wouldn't be a bad idea if I didn't mind starving for a couple of years. A few years from now however, he said, a much different scenario is likely to exist, with baseball possibly becoming what it is in Taiwan.

[This article, written by Richard Robbins, was originally published online at]

Richard Robbins is a former athlete and a sports entrepreneur. He is an owner of, an online sporting goods retail store and Robbins International, an importing and exporting company specializing in supplying products from China to U.S. companies.

Improving Your Golf Balance

Written by Jason Griffin

Continued from page 1

If your golf balance is a little off in your game, you may want to do some simple exercises to improve it. Just kicking a ball around your backyard can help. You can also set up a little obstacle course and weave in and out of it to improve your balance. If you have kids, they will have fun withrepparttar course, too! Actually, they may even set up one for you!

You can also buy a balance board to help you with your center of gravity. You can easily make one yourself out of some scrap wood or you could find a nice one online or at a local fitness equipment store. These boards are challenging and fun to use. Once you can balance for an extended period on one, pick up a golf club. Then practice your backswing while balancing yourself. This will dramatically improve you golf balance.

In addition, working with flexibility exercises helps increase your golf balance by releasing muscle tension. Try some simple yoga stretches to help with loosening up tight muscles. Yoga or pilates can be a real benefit forrepparttar 146641 golfer. These types of exercises tend to create long lean muscles and promote flexibility. Just whatrepparttar 146642 golfer needs forrepparttar 146643 right golf balance and a fluid swing.

Another useful item is a yoga ball or exercise ball. Even just sitting on one of these balls requires balance - so try using one for part ofrepparttar 146644 day. Work up gradually until you can sit onrepparttar 146645 ball for 30 minutes at a time. These ball exercises can help you develop proper posture, increaserepparttar 146646 mobility of your lower back, and develop overall control of your body core. Improving your core strength and flexibility will help you developrepparttar 146647 correct golf balance.

Since balance is fundamental to every aspect of your golf game, spend some time each day working on developing it. Who knows? You could find your swing and your score improving significantly, and who couldn't use that!

About the Author: Jason Griffin is a regular golfer who loves playing golf and helping other golfers, hackers and weekend players get more enjoyment out of the game. He is the creator of Guide to Golf Equipment - Your Information Source for Equipment Used for Golf. (

    <Back to Page 1 © 2005
Terms of Use