Coaching Something Different

 COACHING SOMETHING DIFFERENT, JASON BELMONTE, PBA CHAMPION

Somewhere along the way, both coaches and players have forgotten that the fundamentals of bowling affect everyone, regardless of style.If you don’t have the basics down, it’s difficult to beat a bowler who does, regardless of how much practice and time is spent on the lanes.

 

 

My whole bowling life, coaches have told me to work on creating a ‘normal’ style for my game. Their argument: my two-handed technique wasn’t going to take me to the professional level, and if I wanted to get serious, I needed to be more like everyone else. 

 

“Like everyone else”… it may be the most inane advice a coach could give a student.  If everyone was coached to look and bowl the same we wouldn’t have bowlers like Mark Roth, Amelto Monacelli, Walter Ray Williams and now me make an impact on the world of bowling.

 The way I see it, when a player has a different or unique element to their game, they have a trick.  During my career, most of the tournaments I’ve lost were because I was unable to perform the trick the winner used to lift the trophy high.

 When I was 16, traveling the world, I came across just one other two-handed bowler, Osku Palermaa, and he seems to have turned out OK.  Fast forward 13 years and the most common different bowling style is the two-handed approach.  An army has risen and now they want to get better!

Through my coaching company – International art of Bowling (www.iabowling.com) – we see at least one two-handed bowler at each clinic.  These students arrive at camp thinking that they’ll be set to one side, apart from the normal bowlers, and coached differently. This is a huge misconception about two-handed coaching.

Somewhere along the way, both coaches and players have forgotten that the fundamentals of bowling affect everyone, regardless of style.  If you don’t have the basics down, it’s difficult to beat a bowler who does, regardless of how much practice and time is spent on the lanes. 
 
There are, of course, going to be a few unique coaching points for two-handed bowlers that won’t be relevant to the one handed technique, and that’s when the coach needs to do their research and learn to understand that these points are just a very small component to their student’s game.

I have a checklist of fundaments I like to run through when I’m coaching a new student.  If I follow this, and take out the visual of what the student looks like as they usher the ball to its eventual end, then the style becomes nearly irrelevant. 

-          Grip
“Can’t out bowl a poor fit” – Ron Hoppe.
It’s the single common denominator in everyone’s game.  No matter your age, gender, size or style, if the ball doesn’t fit, you probably won’t be striking.

 

-          Posture and stance
Is your student in an athletic position from the beginning to the end of their approach? Is it comfortable for the student?

-          Footwork
What are the spacing distances between each step, the speed, direction of the feet and heel placements in each step? Can it be easily repeated?

 

-          Swing plane
What launch angle is your bowler trying to achieve? Does the swing plane match it?

 

-          Timing
Where is the ball in relation to the steps?

 

-          Release
Where on the lane does the ball land from release? What ball shape is the student trying to achieve?

 

There are always going to be exceptions to the rule, but I have found that if I use basic fundamentals as a guide, then there is no style of bowling I can’t help.

 

So…before scratching your head, staring puzzled into the sky and wondering how you’re going to let the two-handed bowler down easy, ask yourself what information and instruction you can offer any student.  Then, with the aspects of the player’s game that confuse you, research them and evolve yourself as a coach. 

It makes me wonder where I’d be now had I listened to past naysayers.