Article Contents

  • 1. The collegiate experience: competition format
  • 2. Skills needed to become a successful collegiate player
  • 3. Learn to three-step with proficiency
  • 4. Pacing and coming off the bench
  • 5. Observation, communication, scouting, and belly dancing
  • 6. Selfishness, mental discipline, emotional control
  • 7. Fitness, conditioning, and nutrition
  • 8. Conclusion

According to the National Federation of High Schools, in the 2009-10 school year, there were 52,653 participants on 2,451 varsity or junior varsity high school teams. At the collegiate level in the 2010-11 season, more than 3,500 student-athletes competed on 200 college and university bowling teams. Of the 200 colleges and universities with a program, 100 offer scholarships (USBC, 2011). Many aspire to join the plethora of collegiate programs offering competitive bowling.

Some of the top programs include Robert Morris University, Lindenwood University, Wichita State, Pikeville College, Newman University, McKendree University, and Webber International University. These programs consistently have competitive Top Ten teams on both  the men’s and women’s side, illustrating successful recruitment and/or an in-depth training and preparation program.

Identical to other sports, the college bowling environment at the elite level has been a proving and preparation ground for future professional stars such as 1992 Player of the Year Chris Barnes (Wichita State), Sean Rash (Wichita State), Wes Malott (West Texas State), Michael Fagan (St. John’s), Bill O’Neill (Saginaw Valley), Rhino Page (Kansas), Mike Scroggins (West Texas State), Jack Jurek (West Texas State), and Dan MacLelland (Saginaw Valley), all collegiate stand-outs. Kelly Kulick (1997 & 1998), Lynda Barnes (1989 & 1990), Dan MacLelland (2007 & 2008) and Bill O’Neill (2003 & 2004) were back-to-back players of the year.

These players cut their teeth and honed their skills in the challenging collegiate competition environment where they learned to throw quality shots in important moments, boosting their mental game in dealing with anxiety. These experiences helped them become more versatile and better prepared for success on tour.

With the expansion of college bowling programs offering scholarships and the college game preparing bowlers to be at their best, many aspiring players are interested in being prepared to successfully  join collegiate programs. This month, from my own coaching experience with Webber International University, I share with readers my thoughts on many of the necessary attributes needed to be successful at the college level.

The collegiate experience: competition format

It is important to have a sense of the collegiate tournament format. Although the post-season is exclusively Baker format, collegiate tournaments in the regular season consist of traditional five-man team games along with Baker games. Baker games are single games consisting of five bowlers each bowling two frames. To illustrate, the Brunswick Southern Collegiate event is seven team games on Saturday and 24 Baker games ...

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Joe Slowinski

About Joe Slowinski

Joe Slowinski, a USBC Gold Coach, is a freelance bowling coach who works with bowlers around the globe. He is currently on assignment with the Philippines. Slowinski is the former Director of Bowling at Lincoln Memorial University, where he served as Program Administrator and Head USBC Collegiate Men’s and NCAA Women’s Coach. The Portland, Maine native has served as the Administrative and Men's Head Coach at Webber International University and served for four years as a Master Teaching Professional at the Kegel Training Center. Slowinski is also the former Director of Coaching and Coach Certification for the National Sports Council of Malaysia. He has coached international teams at the World Championships, Pan American Games, South American Games, and European Championships, helping Belgium win a Gold medal at the 2022 EBF Championship of Champions and coaching Brazil to Gold medals at the 2015 Pam American Games and the 2014 South American Games. He was the 2018 NTCA DII/III Coach of the Year and the 2010 NCBCA Men’s College Coach of the Year.