High Scores and Possible Reasons Why

By Michael Cousins

Evidently – though we all expected this answer – based on last week’s informal Facebook poll by USBC President, Chad Murphy, results show that the participants believe that bowling is easier today than ever before.

Though this comes as no shock to anyone, I believe the answer, like the question raised by Mr. Murphy, is an oversimplification of a more complex situation. But I digress.

This week, given that they’ve concluded that – based on their poll findings – bowling needs to be made more difficult, they have posed a new question: “Are higher scores today a result of easier lane patterns, better equipment, or better coaching being available?”

Once again, I believe that this is oversimplifying the issue, but, for the sake of this article, let’s run with it.

First thing is first: we can definitely withdrawal coaching from the equation. Sure, I will admit, there are a number of elite level coaches in our sport. At the top level, we have some fine coaches, coaches that include Mark Baker, Del Warren, Randy Stoughton, John Gaines, Rod Ross, and many, many others. However, as a whole, I feel that our sport is lacking overall quality in this area.

For example, in many cases, the Saturday morning youth league coaches and local coaches are not up to par. They mean well, certainly, and I applaud them all for donating their time and effort to our children and our sport, but, again, for the most part, these coaches and volunteers simply do not have the experience needed to make a real difference in overall scoring pace.

I feel as though, overall, our sport could be doing better in this area. Though I must admit, the USBC is doing a great job of educating and growing this area of our sport. However, we simply aren’t there yet, but we’re getting there. And that is in large part to USBC’s asserted efforts. Kudos to them.

The next two cases are a little closer, though I would argue the answer is still rather simple.

We’ll start with patterns. There is no doubt that when it comes to recreational bowling and league bowling, the conditions have gotten softer. Therefore, of course – as a result – scores have gotten higher.

However, on the competitive side of things, patterns are, no doubt, getting harder and harder. 3:1 ratios used to be the norm when it came to sport conditions, but, today, patterns are getting flatter and flatter. Yet scores remain high, especially at the professional level. Now don’t get me wrong, much of this has to do with the level of player competing out there. But, still, even with these difficult, challenging patterns, scores are on the higher side.

So between recreational bowling, league bowling, and competitive bowling, what is the common denominator? Bowling balls.

Bowling balls are getting better and better with every release. They’re hooking more, hitting harder, and improving scores with each new ball that hits the market. There is no denying any of this. Just as it has done in other sports, technology is advancing the game and the scores. It doesn’t matter what sort of pattern you put out, bowling balls today will destroy the pattern; they’re just that strong. Regardless of how difficult a pattern is, if you have enough high quality players, with today’s rev rates, throwing today’s balls, you can break them down, open them up, and create a higher scoring environment.

All of that being said, regardless of where you stand on the issue, you have to give credit where credit is due: Chad Murphy and the USBC are trying to make changes, better the sport, and they’re involving us, the bowlers. What changes will be made going forward? I have no idea. But I applaud them for putting forth the effort.

The governing body cares what we have to say, and I urge all that care to voice their opinion, whether you agree with me or not. Speak up. Let your voice be heard.

3 thoughts on “High Scores and Possible Reasons Why

  1. Tom Comparetta says:

    As a Silver coach I would have to say that although the training that USBC has put together to this point is good, and very helpful to new coaches there needs to be another tier, more training for individual coaching rather then concentration on team. As far as Gold coaching status this is where you need to spend a lot of money and jump through hoops for a title that many do not care about, some you listed in your article as the best coaches. I have over 40 years of coaching experience, have seen bowling change from a sport to a recreation and the illegal walls of the 70’s become the house patterns on the 2000’s. I had to change from showing some one how to lift a ball and execute a shot down one or two boards, to fluff the ball into a 7 or 9 board area. The bowling balls are so strong that they hook by themselves and the pro shop owners now have to get degrees on how to lay out balls to do tricks for bowlers who have not learned how to bowl correctly. So what is wrong with the sport I say like the rest of society we have gotten lazy, we all want to bowl great scores and have big averages and will pay anything for someone else to give it to us.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    While coaching is down, the availability of knowledge on good coaching is more abundant than ever. Anyone can pull up great coaching videos with a quick internet search. For a small fee they can get personal video analysis of their swing (and for free look at the analysis for someone similar and apply the same recommendations). I can get free advice from knowledgeable bowlers on how to approach a pattern, spare shooting, etc. So, while I agree that technology is leading the way to higher scores. The amount of good knowledge available to anyone is much higher than ever before.

  3. Hate to say I told you so says:

    Changing things is just going to make a lot of people that are use to bowling high scores complain or quit… the sport is on life support as it is. We need to invest in youth programs and coach training as the kids are the future of the sport…and youth leagues are dwindling.

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