Article Contents

  • 1. Anticipation and planning
    • 1.1. Gap analysis
    • 1.2. Enabling observation
  • 2. The W3 protocol
    • 2.1. When?
    • 2.2. What?
    • 2.3. Why?
  • 3. Practicing the process
  • 4. W3 for team bowling
  • 5. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable
  • 6. Concluding remarks

Remember when a lane play decision didn’t work for you, and you were left shaking your head? Insert a sarcastic chuckle here. As bowlers, we all possess a plethora of experiences that range from great to awful. Many of those experiences that fall into the underperformance category can be traced back to poor lane play decision-making.

As a coach, one of the most common topics I discuss with bowlers is grounded in these scenarios. Through these many conversations with bowlers and coaches about lane play, decision-making, and arsenal sequencing, it is often revealed that on-lane challenges can be caused by issues ranging from indecisiveness to fear, which polluted the ability to reflect clearly. During these moments, stress paralyzed a bowler and prevented clarity of thought.

As I probed deeper into their experiences, it was revealed that some individuals were simply naïve about their equipment and had misunderstandings about what is happening on the lane. Their corresponding line and ball changes were based on misinformation. On the other side of indecision were bowlers who possessed some lane play knowledge but got trapped cognitively at the moment and were unable to think clearly.

In this article, I discuss a self-reflection protocol to anchor one’s thinking during moments of lane play indecision or fear. By following a three-pronged protocol of reflection prompts, bowlers can slow down their thinking and set the stage for improved decision-making in a more rational and emotionally-free manner.

The intended audience for this article is bowlers who have a solid or developing ball motion understanding.  That said, the article will prompt great reflection questions for those who are developing ball motion comprehension. For those with less ball motion understanding, the questions can help guide a conversation with an IBPSIA-certified pro shop professional or a USBC-certified Silver or Gold coach.

Anticipation and planning

Before going into the details of the W3 protocol, I want to discuss anticipation and planning. This should always be the first step in preparing for competition play. As a coach who believes in radical purposefulness, I believe that a bowler should prepare a sequence of ball motions and surfaces before even leaving for a tournament. Over ...

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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.