Training the Body, Growing the Mind

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The swimming season is back! Beginning on March 23, Yew Chung International School of Beijing students from Years 3-12 will have the opportunity to receive instruction from high-level club swimming coaches and to represent the YCIS Beijing Scorpions at school swim meets.

The YCIS Beijing swim team – along with the many other sports on offer, including basketball, volleyball and football – allows students to improve their physical fitness while engaging in the fun and competitiveness of athletics. Yet in what other ways do sports impart lessons that can be extended to multiple aspects of life? From learning perseverance and endurance, to lessons in victory and defeat, to the need for discipline, teamwork, and utilizing individuals’ strengths – there are many ways that athletics helps us to grow emotionally and socially towards positively impacting all facets of life. 

Matt McEwan, Athletics Director and Head of Physical Education at YCIS Beijing, explains more.


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Managing Many Commitments  

One of the macro skills that’s necessary to develop in any category of sports is to learn to be self-disciplined. As an athlete, it’s important to be disciplined enough to follow the direction of your coach and to follow through with your commitments to practice and prepare for competitions. This means pushing yourself beyond what you thought were your physical and mental limits and seeking quality and consistency in all that you do. 


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Cultivating discipline isn’t easy, but, like anything, it starts with doing the little things well. You don’t get anywhere if you don’t do the basics right. Therefore, it’s important to focus first on what you can control, rather than trying to do everything all at once.

In terms of habit building and developing life skills, as we get older and move into the real world, there are many things to balance, and a lot of different aspects to life that we have to monitor, work on and improve. Developing self-discipline at an early age, and learning to manage all of your many commitments, is hugely beneficial later on.

Work Hard, Work Smart, Work Together


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At a young age, it’s often possible for individual students to be quite dominant in a certain area. A talented young basketball player, for example, doesn’t necessarily need to rely on the rest of their team because they’re skillful enough to score on their own.

But with the progression through life, and in athletics for older ages, at some point students realize that they’re now playing at a level where the competition has caught up and where it’s essential to utilize the team around them. This is an important lesson to learn.

In the context of a school, an emphasis on teamwork translates into students realizing that the whole school is their team. Their classmates, teachers, administrators, and admin staff are all a part of one big team, among whom there are many individual specialties and skills and knowledge. And being aware of who is on your team, and being able and willing to collaborate and work together, is a skill that will benefit students far into the future.

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