Do you want to become a professional bowler? Do you know what is required of you to make it a successful endeavor? I have spent the last 12 years of my life finding out. With no road map, I’ve struggled during my journey, often taking the long way there. Along the way I’ve gathered some essential knowledge that has allowed me to continue my quest for stardom. I’d like to share my findings with you. To become a successful professional bowler you must wear many faces. You must wear the face of a well-trained athlete, an experienced traveler, a courageous warrior, a clever strategist, an eager student, a skilled craftsman and charismatic entertainer. You must also be of strong mind and possess the heart of a lion.
Contrary to what many believe, bowling is a sport, and to be at the top level of bowling you must be a well-trained athlete. Because of the rigorous demands of the tour schedule -bowling 42 games of competition in 3 days, not including practice shots - a professional bowler must be prepared physically. An exercise program stressing lower body strength is important. The discipline and persistence to stick with it are even more important. If you can’t do it on your own, hire a trainer. Physical strength will also be essential for the amount of practice required of a professional. For to become a well trained athlete, you must practice and perfect your game. Spare shooting, alignments, angles to the pocket - all of these will have to be solid. Practice is the only way.
Being in good physical condition will give you stamina to deal with your face of the experienced traveler. Travel is an inevitable part of a professional bowler’s life. You will need to find the mode of travel which is the most comfortable for you. Whether it be traveling by car, van, motor home, or airplane, your mode of travel must fit your personality and pocketbook. Motor homes provide a mode of transportation and room and board, while giving you a little sense of home. Traveling by air is quicker, but expensive. Sharing the load with another bowler or bowlers by traveling together and sharing hotel rooms is a cost cutting option, which at times may sacrifice your privacy. It depends on you and what you want. Traveling will be your largest expense, so plan wisely. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to be familiar with making travel plans, hotel reservations and car rentals.
Once you are out there on the road, you must assume your face of the courageous warrior. Warriors engage in battles. What battle will you face as a professional bowler? You must duel a worthy opponent every time you shoe up. This opponent is not your fellow bowler, but a contender much bigger, more devious, and downright slippery. It is the ever-changing 60 foot, sometimes wood, sometimes disguised as wood, bowling lane. The lane, with it’s moats on each side and its fortress maze between, is the only thing that stands between you and knocking down the pins. You must use every shot to try to break the “secret code” of the lane. For once you know its code, you will know how to attack the lane and give yourself the highest percentage of carry with the most room for error. Victory will be sweet, but always brief for the lane will change and you will have to begin the battle again.
In battling the every changing lane conditions, you must put on your clever strategist face. The battle requires that you select the weapon suitable to play the proper alignment to the pocket. You must be able to differentiate between each of your bowling balls in order to develop a viable selection process. I use a two dimensional relational matrix to organize my equipment. The selection should be based on matching you speed, axis rotation, axis tilt, and revolution with the lane condition. To get a clear picture of the lane condition and the best alignment to play to the pocket, you need a proven system of adjustments. The best system of adjustments can be found in Larry Mathews’ book The Pro Approach. His system has enabled me to choose the right ball and find the pocket fast and efficiently, often allowing me to crack the lane’s code sooner than my fellow bowlers. By combining a good system of adjustments and a bowling ball matrix you have the tactics to devise an effective battle plan.
Every battle will bring knowledge. You must allow yourself to learn and be a student for life. As an eager student , see yourself as a sponge sopping up any and all knowledge of bowling. The technological evolution of bowling balls has brought with it an abundance of knowledge that wasn’t present a decade ago. Embrace this knowledge. You must learn several technical aspects about a bowling ball such as the hook rating of its’ coverstock, its’ weight block design, and its’ core dynamics. Surface preparation and the drilling layout of a bowling ball is also very important for you to understand. You can find help with these aspects from a variety of sources. Bowling This Month is the best technical publication. Denny Torgerson’s newsletter is also an excellent source. Visit the bowling ball manufacturers’ web sites. They’ll keep you up to date on the latest equipment. In addition to learning the technology of the game you need to be the authority on your physical game. Well known coaches such as Fred Bordan, Tom Kourous and Bill Taylor could assist you in fine tuning your game. There are also teachers of the game, such as Larry Mathews in San Jose, which possess a vast reservoir of knowledge. Use any means of learning at your disposal and never believe that you have learned enough.
As you learn you will be honing your craft. The face of the skilled craftsman will enable you to do such things as duplicate the grip on your bowling balls and prepare your bowling ball surfaces. When it comes to your grip only you know what feels right. You must develop skills for working out and preparing the holes in your ball. This includes gluing in finger inserts and carving a thumbhole to fit the knobs and bumps on your thumb. Be responsible for your own equipment; don’t rely on someone else to do it for you. Practice until you get it right. During the course of a tournament, you may need to change the surface of your bowling balls by sanding and or polishing. Learn to use a ball spinner. Having knowledge of surface preparation is very important. There is an excellent discussion of this topic at Cyber Bowling Coach.
With all of your strength, knowledge and skill, you must remember you are also an entertainer. The charismatic entertainer must be present at all times because people are always watching and sometimes they have paid to watch. You don’t have to be boisterous and animated. Be yourself. Let your love for the game pour out over the audience while you play. You will have many opportunities to interact with bowling fans on a one-to-one basis. Savor this attention, be attentive yourself, and always answer questions and sign autographs. Remember as soon as you reach professional status you become an ambassador to the sport, so set a good example.
Once you choose the life of a professional bowler, you will be handed your ticket for the world’s largest roller coaster ride. Get in and hang on for your life. Your sound mind will keep you on the tracks and stop you from getting off at the first stop. Your sound mind will be needed to help you deal with the ups and downs of your performances. Your sound mind will keep you objective and not emotional, and will allow you to ask yourself, “What can I learn from this performance?” Your sound mind should keep you confident and provide you with extraordinary concentration skills. It will help you thrive in pressure situations and allow you to relish the moment you step up in the tenth to throw your best shot for all the cookies. A sound mind is vital to your survival.
Heart of a lion
A heart of a lion is also essential, for you cannot wear all of your required faces without it. Having a lion’s heart means you possess the desire and perseverance needed to be the well -trained athlete. You have the fortitude to travel around the world, the fearlessness to be a warrior and the enthusiasm to be a student. Heart will give you the spirit and spunk to be an entertainer and the persistence required to be a skilled craftsman and clever strategist. Without your lion’s heart, you would not have the audacity to bowl for a living.
If you possess the heart of a lion then I know you will work hard on the different faces and the sound mind needed to realize your dream of becoming one of the best bowlers in the world. I hope this information serves as a road map for your never-ending pursuit for excellence.