COMPTON, Calif. (AP) -Twelve youth baseball coaches and players from China will travel throughout the United States for the next month to learn fundamentals of the game and enhance their skills as part of a State Department program.
``The main purpose of this trip is to learn how to train kids to be better players,'' Wang Guang Yuan, who teaches at the Guangzhou Tianhe Baseball Academy, said Thursday, speaking through a translator.
The visitors have been receiving instruction and participating in various drills at Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy in Compton before moving to the Ripken Youth Academy in Aberdeen, Md., for four weeks.
The group also will visit USA Baseball's training center in Cary, N.C., and will attend several major league and minor league games, as well as the Cal Ripken World Series.
Zhu Wen Bin, a catcher for the club team at the Shanghai University of Economics and Finance, said he learned exercises to strengthen and protect pitchers' arms.
``They asked a lot of questions and were looking for details,'' Darrell Miller, the Urban Youth Academy's director and a former major leaguer, said of the coaches.
``They understood the importance of throwing correctly and how having arm strength could impact a defense,'' Miller said. ``They really know the game and they know it very well, which I was surprised at.''
The coaches' training also included presentations on nutrition, conditioning and umpiring.
``We even did some mental training,'' Miller said. ``We actually had them do some visualization techniques because we wanted to prepare them for higher-level baseball.''
The Chinese coaches also noticed the Americans' different interpersonal approach to players.
``American coaches are much friendlier,'' Wang said. ``The kids are not afraid of the coaches. They're in a very kind environment. This is very different from China; Chinese coaches are very strict and critical.''
Wang said the American approach to baseball drills is effective.
``They inspired the kids,'' Wang said. ``They motivated the kids really well. The kids fall in love with baseball.''
Zhu, who will be a senior in the fall, said he wants to follow the American coaches' example.
``I hope to learn all the techniques and get inspiration from this trip so I can attract freshmen to come and play, and teach them the techniques I learned,'' Zhu said, speaking through a translator.
The visit is part of Major League Baseball's program to expand its influence in China.
``The coaches' trip marks the next is a series of initiatives designed to deepen our relationship with China,'' Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.
``We hope that the training received and the experiences shared prove useful when they return to China, and that this is the first of many such exchanges.''

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