My Evolution from PBA Player to Gold Coach

My Evolution from PBA Player to Gold Coach
Bill Spigner, USBC Gold Coach and PBA Champion

 


USBC Gold Coach Bill Spigner has 3 national PBA tiltes and 9 regional PBA titles.  Visit his web site at http://www.billspigner.com


 

When Joe asked me to write an article about my transition from player to coach I thought about the building blocks of that process.  I had the good fortune to play on the PBA tour for the better part of 12 years and being exposed to the best bowlers and coaches. Originally my only thoughts were about throwing the ball and getting better at it.  I was self taught early in my career and learned to play all parts of the lane with different releases, speeds and lofts.  I always thought it was my job as a player to figure out a way to play the condition in front of me and not for the condition to give me a shot. That type of thinking, without really knowing it made me always try to learn.

 

Early in my tour days Pete Couture ran a pro shop at Bradley Bowl in Windsor Locks Connecticut,  I would go to there a couple of days a week practice with Pete and bowl some afternoon small pot games.  Pete was drilling some of my equipment for me as a friend and told me I should learn to do it and he let me learn on his shop equipment.  That push to learn how to drill for myself led me to buy a drill press and related equipment and I set it up in my parent’s basement where I would do some drilling for myself and some friends.  I started learning how to fit from Bill Taylor's book on fitting and drilling, which to me was and still is the bible on learning the fundamentals of fitting and drilling.  I bought the Bill Taylor wheel for fitting, it was great because of the mobility of it and I could take it anywhere and measure hands.

 

The best thing that ever happened for my teaching career was getting hired by Don Johnson to teach at Don Johnsons Summer Bowling Camps by PBC (Professional Bowling Camps). The first year I worked one week as an assistant pro under Gary Dickinson. There wasn’t a PBC site on the east coast and I approached Red Burnham the GM at Bradley Bowl in Windsor Locks Connecticut about doing one there. He was all for it and PBC franchised it to Red and I taught there for 9 years.  We did 3 weeks every summer and I was the head pro for two weeks and the assistant one week when my assistant Paul Moser became the head pro for one week.  The PBC program was very organized and was the best at teaching all the fundamentals of the game from the physical side to the mental game.  The manual was very advanced and would still be a great manual for any coach today; it was way ahead of its time.

 

In 1983 I started writing for Bowling Digest, doing a question and answer column. Readers would send in questions and I would answer them in the magazine. I have found that putting words into writing made me a better teacher because I had to research my material and explain it so the average bowler would understand what I was talking about.

 

Another major factor in my evolution to teaching was the purchase of a video Camera, tape deck and portable TV equipment in 1978 before I started teaching professionally.  Larry Laub was the first tour player I saw that used a camera and a tape deck to study his game, I followed his lead. Using that equipment to work on my game, some friends and recording many PBA shows over the years helped me learn a lot about how different styles of games function. 

 

When I retired from the PBA tour in 1985 I opened up a pro shop.  In 1989 I became a partner in building a bowling center that we owned and operated for 19 years before we sold it in 2008.  During that time I continued to teach professionally with private lessons.  During my ownership of Hawthorn Lanes I designed all the lane conditioning patterns for our leagues and tournaments, even PBA regional events in the early to mid 90’s.  We hosted 21 PBA events over our 19 years.  That exposure to all the great bowlers, regional, senior and national players helped a lot by being able to study all the different players in competition.

 

Going through the different business stages of my bowling career the one thing that I was always going to do was teach.  Today I am very active teaching and continue to learn, more I know the easier it is to learn more.  

  

I always believed the better bowlers would be the better teachers. As a tour player you never stop working on your game; physically, lane play, equipment and mentally. That persistent exploration of the game makes the top players have a great understanding about the difficulties involved in improving their game. Just as your game is a never ending project to get better rolling the ball it's just as much if not more work improving one’s ability to become a top coach. I would recommend to anyone teaching to always keep your eyes and ears open, you never know when you see or hear something that will help make you better.