The Science of Improving Your Bowling Skills

A look at the SPORT model of skill acquisition periodization

The Science of Improving Your Bowling Skills

As a coach, I constantly review training techniques in other sports as well as review sport science research to improve my understanding of training methods and practice effectiveness. This commitment to looking outside of our sport expands my thinking and provides insight into evolving sport science research. I have been equally committed to sharing these ideas with Bowling This Month’s readers over the past 15 years.

Periodization is a well-known training process where you design training strategically by varying the volume, intensity, and frequency. In short, periodization involves normal training, periods of overload (when you increase one or more of volume, intensity, and frequency), taper (when you reduce volume and frequency), and a recovery phase, normally after major events. A significant body of research has revealed that human sports performance improves with four weeks of overload followed by 10 to 14 days of tapering running up to a major competition.

Skill acquisition periodization (SAP), or periodization of skill training (PoST), is an evolving research area in sport science. To illustrate, research is beginning to focus on the impact of specificity, overload, and tapering on specific skill development in elite high-performance sport. But, historically, there is nearly no research base on the impact of load, or the amount of training, on skill acquisition. We are at the beginning of an exciting time for sport science and skill acquisition research on elite-level high performers.

In my opinion, skill acquisition periodization holds much potential to take skill training to a higher and more effective level. In this article, I share Damian Farrow and Sam Robertson’s (2017) five-domain SPORT model and provide examples of how we can utilize these five domains in improving skill training in bowling. As the authors emphasize, “Skill acquisition research and practice can benefit from a periodization framework to provide a structure for the longitudinal skill monitoring and development of athletes.”

The SPORT model: skill acquisition periodization

Farrow and Robertson (2017) developed a five-domain skill acquisition periodization model, which goes by the acronym of SPORT, for high-performance athletes. SPORT refers to specificity, progression, overload, reversibility, and tedium. I will discuss each of these domains, as well as align each to bowling. This will enable coaches and athletes to measure skill acquisition in a more ...

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.