Article Contents

  • 1. Thoughts from the bowler
    • 1.1. Every surface is different
    • 1.2. Don’t have fixed ideas
  • 2. Thoughts from the coach
    • 2.1. Testing the approaches
    • 2.2. Straighter is better at spares
    • 2.3. On tough shots, DO NOT GIVE UP THE POCKET
    • 2.4. Be observant
    • 2.5. Don’t overanalyze every shot
    • 2.6. Arsenal
    • 2.7. Practice shots
    • 2.8. Practice shots, part two
    • 2.9. Before practice
  • 3. Summary

I sit here on Father’s Day (and my wife’s birthday) waiting for the train to take me home. I am reflecting upon my experience at the USBC tourney this year as a player and my observations as a coach.

Thoughts from the bowler

I found the tournament condition even more challenging than previous years. I can see why scores are lower this year. You were rewarded for good shots and slightly errant ones were, at times, harshly penalized. The teams doing well seem to be dedicating themselves to a plan and sticking to it through good times and bad. They were making moves together and staying in the same part of the lane.

A team last night took over third place using this strategy. It seems to me that teams have success when they work together and don’t worry about individual results. If you want to succeed in a team event and have a shot at an eagle, you must commit to staying with your team in terms of lane play – no matter what. As a wise person reminded me this year during my struggles in the team event, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” A rough first five frames or game should not change your plan. As a collegiate coach, I have been spoiled by being around good teams with great chemistry. For this reason, we overachieved at times. When a team is assembled properly, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Find a team where you can be a part of a greater whole.

Bowling in the National Bowling Stadium is different than any other bowling environment I know. It doesn’t feel like a bowling center at all. Your name is on the board in huge letters (that look even bigger when there are four opens in a row on the screen), the pins sounds different, the lanes look longer, the acoustics are different, and you have a big seating section above/behind you. This can be very intimidating for someone who has never been through it. There is also the always difficult shot. For most bowlers, it’s a very difficult environment in which to perform well.

Changes have slowly happened to the Open. Some folks like the changes. Some don’t. I’ve read some complaining about letting bowlers drink something besides water this year. I know in the past I’ve complained (this has since changed) ...

Dug Barker

About Dug Barker

Dug Barker is a Silver Coach, Youth Director at Ken-Bowl Lanes, and is based in Louisville, KY. A member of the Positive Coaching Alliance, he is a two-time Top 100 Coach.