Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Over the past few seasons, a glaring problem with our game is the weak numbers of competitive bowlers rising from our youth ranks into the world of adult competitive bowling. I personally think that these low numbers are contributing to the overall numbers problem that we have here in Southern Ontario.

In the Masters and various "cash" tournaments in Ontario, we have seen a steady decline in numbers to the point where tournaments are disappearing altogether. While many feel that the most noticeable reason is the past players no longer showing up to bowl, for various reasons. I feel that the lack of younger players coming to these events are directly relative to these past players' absences being noted.

When I was in my last few years of YBC, there were roughly a dozen young bowlers in my age group (2 or 3 years younger/older) that could step right into the adult ranks at a competitive level and play with the "big boys" in my zone alone. Having this steady stream of young bowlers entering Open qualifications and money events allowed the older players that no longer had these events as a priority (as opposed to families, work obligations etc) to simply not attend without a very large impact on the overall events. While the younger bowlers may not see success early in their adult careers, they get introduced to the world of competitive bowling, see what they need to do to get better and WANT to get better. This allows for a smooth cycle of competitive bowlers.

While the decline is very alarming, I truly believe that help is on the way. In Ontario there seems to be a very healthy level of youth competition in zones like York Simcoe and Ottawa Valley, not to mention the 5pin killer in Edmonton, Jennifer Baker. I think with the continued success of our youth will only encourage more in their programs to follow those footsteps laid out for them to begin a strong cycle again. However, we need to be sure that with that talent and willingness to get better, we have accessible coaching for them as well. We need to advertise and promote not only events that the youth can play now, but what could lie ahead for them in the future. I don't think it's any surprise that the youth in Ontario have already been introduced to our Ontario Open or Masters events before they've reached the required age to play in these events.

That being said, any youths out there that would like information on events, like attending the Ontario Open or any Province's Open, send me an email and I'll try to get you some info. I'm located in Ontario so I know my home province's events best but perhaps someone from other provinces can leave some contact info in the comments section so that everyone can be looked after in the event that they would like to know more. Otherwise, send me an email to FIVEPINBLOG@LIVE.CA and I'll see what sort of info I can pass along your way.

Jeff Young

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sorry for the delayed entry on this one. I thought I would make sure I mentioned the results of the Club Tour event held in Newmarket Ontario a couple weekends ago. There was a lot of great bowling, attributed to a ton of skilled bowlers as well as optimal lane conditions. Another perfect game was added to this season's accomplishments, thrown by Mike Herbert. You might remember that Mike's wife, Christina also threw one this past summer at a tournament in August. Talk about a competitive couple!

As previously mentioned, there was a lot of great bowling in this event. 2 YBC bowlers make the money cut, so special congratulations go out to Jesse Stewart and Chantale Renaud for showing everyone what the future holds in the province.

When all the dust settled, there was only one bowler remaining, holding the $4000 cheque. Karole McDonnell defeated Bobby Torraville in the finals to take that top prize. Congratulations to everyone who played in this event and made it such a great success. The results can be seen HERE

A big thanks goes out to the people behind the scenes. Tom and Jeff England for running the event smoothly, Gord MacLeod and his staff for hosting the tournament and having the lanes in great scoring conditions. 89 entries is a great start for the province of Ontario and hopefully it should only grow from there. There is another event on this tour coming up January 28/29, 2012 so make sure you mark it on your calender. Another guaranteed $4000 for first place will be put up.

I would also like to take the time to wish everyone who is taking part in Open qualifying in the coming weeks, or those who have already started/finished. If you have results, please send them to me at fivepinblog@live.ca and I will make sure they get mentioned and put up on this site for everyone to see.

Jeff Young

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just to wrap some things up from the past weekend, I'd like to congratulate Mark Johnstone for winning the TPC event held in Alberta. I checked the scores over the weekend and I'm betting the new blue pin bases are scoring as well there as they are here. Also, the Central Teaching Masters event was held at Stellar Lanes in Newmarket where it is worth noting that YBC bowler Jesse Stewart rolled an amazing 1898 for 6 games.

This leads me nicely into this week's blog. This weekend coming up (Nov 19/20) the first Club Tour event of the year is being held at the same Stellar Lanes. It hasn't been kept secret the declining number of cash events in Southern Ontario so to see some events popping up is very encouraging. With a $4000 guaranteed top prize this tournament is definitely one you should be looking at if you're one of those looking to put some money in your pocket or if you're looking for some great tournament experience. It must be noted that Stellar has been very accommodating to assure that the ultimate payout is achieved. There are shifts on both Saturday and Sunday, which plays host to an 8 game qualifier followed by single game elimination played on Sunday afternoon.

If you have any questions regarding this event or would like to register get in touch with Gordon McLoed at Stellar Lanes or Jeff England at NEBs. You can also go to The ClubTour website to see the details or contact info. Hope to see everyone there!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This past weekend in Ontario featured a look at some future stars of the game, as well as honouring some bowling greats.
On Saturday night in Hamilton, the 37th O5PBA Hall-of-Fame dinner was held to induct seven new members. The event was hosted by new O5 President, John Cresswell with Walter Heeney handling the presentation duties.
As per tradition, Walter began the presentations (accompanied by a slide show) with his Bowling Dream, a look at what those legends who have left us might be doing up in heaven. As always, it was a wonderful trip down memory lane and tribute to those who have passed on.
This year’s class of inductees included one Legend, two Builders, 3 Players and one Dual Inductee (Players Division).
Joining the Legends division was Ken Roy. Ken grew up in Nova Scotia and started his bowling career playing Candlepins where he excelled, including bowling a single game record of 180. When his job brought him to Ontario, he adapted his style to compete in 5-Pin and went on to an illustrious career in our game, including 3 Master Bowlers Association victories in the 1965-66 season.
Inducted as a Builder, Gerry James has spent sixty-five years in the bowling industry. He started out manufacturing lanes with Brunswick and then got into the installation part of the business, putting in lanes from Saskatoon to Ottawa. An expert on the subject, Gerry gave a seminar in 1953 on lane maintenance that still holds much relevance. Gerry went on to become a proprietor, and a leader in the community.
Also inducted as a builder, Henry Pachulec was a leader who, at the age of twenty-two, became an executive member of the Hamilton 5 Pin Bowlers’ Association.  He spent many successful years with the Hamilton Association, seeing membership peak at 12,000 members in 1968. His coaching career included being instrumental in the course creation for the National Coaching Certification Program as well as mentoring scores of YBC bowlers. Henry and his guitar also entertained folks at events everywhere.
Already inducted as a Builder in 1989, Don Walker was honoured as a Player. In addition to a fantastic career competing on the lanes, which included a lifetime 254 Masters’ average, Don also served as “Chief Instructor” for the MBAO from 1965-1970. Don still serves the game well and currently sponsors a yearly event at Pla-Mor Lanes.
Inducted as a Player, Ian Wilson has been a huge part of the Hamilton zone, representing them for nearly 30 years at the Open, as a bowler or as a coach. With a fine MBAO career and 2 perfect games to his credit, Ian has also shared his expertise by coaching in the YBC for 36 years. A Level 2 coach and Certified Judge of Play, Ian continues to volunteer and compete in the game.
Joining Ian in the Players Division was Oshawa’s Roger Davies. A 2-time Ontario Open team Champion, and 3-time Masters Winner, Roger’s shining moment came in 1982 as he won both Provincial and National Singles Gold. Roger credits long-time coach, the late Bert Harding with harnessing his technique, and his temper! (Incidentally, Bert was also the biggest influence on my own career). An intense competitor in his prime, Roger has mellowed (somewhat) over the years and continues to battle knee and back woes to compete in the game he loves.
The final inductee of the evening was Claudina Sula. Claudina’s incredible career on the lanes includes a phenomenal record in the Open and 9 Masters wins in Ontario. She has also won the aggregate on four occasions and in 2000, was selected 4th on Ontario’s Top 90 list of all-time female bowlers. After serving as an instructor at a bowling school out west run by Tom Paterson, Claudina, along with Cathy Daku, was instrumental in developing the first Ontario Bowling School in 1991. That program continues to the day and awards “All-Star” plaques in her name. In speaking to bowlers for my “23 Questions” segment or just in passing, no one’s name is mentioned as a “role model”, “idol” or “mentor” as much as Claudina’s! A fact that speaks greatly for her talent, her leadership and her class!
Once again, congratulations to all the Inductees and kudos to the organizing committee for putting on such a first-class event!
The complete bios, compiled by Walter Heeney, can be viewed at o5pba.ca.
For those who have never attended the dinner, it is a tremendous celebration of our game!!
While Saturday night was a celebration of the game’s veteran stars, Sunday featured a bright look into the future as a whopping 105 teenagers participated in the Stellar Youth Fall Classic in Newmarket.
This event consisted of a 5 game qualifying round, with handicaps based on 80% of the difference of the bowler’s average and 250. Bowlers aged 13-19 paid a $50 entry for a chance to win the $1000 first prize. The top 30 bowlers cashed, with the top 24 making the single elimination match play round in which handicaps were still used.
In the qualifying round, Shania Neddo of Liberty Bowl in Bowmanville dominated the field, finishing 84 pins ahead of 2nd place qualifier DJ Villeneuve of Orleans. With an average in the 170s, Shania bowled games of 309, 242, 242, 217 and 256 for a terrific 1266 scratch score which totaled 1571 with handicap.
The top 8 qualifiers earned a first round bye and following Shania and DJ were Jennifer Kingsland, Matthew Beesak, Johnny Coulton, Jason Davidson, Michael Walley and Brendan Schroder.
While Shania would lose a tough match in the second round, DJ didn’t cool off as he built upon his 1487 (1447 scratch!) qualifying round by shooting 247, 332 and 313 scratch for his next 3 games to reach the final. The Championship match was best 2 out of 3, with DJ facing hometown bowler, Thomas Scott. Thomas was a member of last year’s Stellar Lanes Senior Boys team, who won the Southern Ontario 4-Steps Provincials.
DJ would dominate the first game with a 294 (286 flat) score. The second game went right down to the tenth, but when Thomas left a corner on the first ball, the Championship and the $1000 first prize was DJ’s. DJ’s 307 (299 flat) gave him the title and a whopping 2924 ten game scratch total!!
Congratulations to DJ and all of the bowlers for an impressive turnout and display!
Also, a tremendous job by Cathy Lamontagne who put in countless hours in organizing the event, and thanks to sponsors Sid Morris and Steve Phipps as well as Gord MacLeod from Stellar.
Tournament season is heating up around the country, including a big event in Edmonton this weekend.  Don’t forget to send us your event info and results.
Here in Ontario, the inaugural Club Tour event (clubtour.ca) at Stellar Lanes is almost here and Youth Challenge and Open qualifying is only weeks away as well.
Steve Barker

Monday, October 31, 2011

I’m a little bit late to the party here, as the season is now well under way but there has certainly been a lot of discussion about the game, whether it’s been about membership, tournaments, or the East-West challenge on CBC. There has also been much discussion focused on scoring conditions.

Scoring, and what can been done to improve or maximize it, is a topic all on it’s own and will be an ongoing and in-depth debate, as we want to see conditions fair and rewarding to the competitive players, but also want to ensure the game remains fun for kids, older players and the public bowlers. Remember, the more business proprietors can get from parties and public bowling, the more they should be able to invest back into the centre in terms of maintaining the lanes and equipment.

All of this being said, let’s focus on something positive. I believe that 5-Pin has the “perfect” number of perfect games.
Our game is constantly compared to the other bowling games out there, but in Duckpin perfect games are impossible. In 10-Pin, PBA pros have each thrown dozens of 300 games. In 5-Pin, 450 games are rare enough that a good portion of us are still looking for our first.

According to the C5 website, there have been 134 reported/sanctioned 450 games in the last ten years. The most in any recent season was 20 perfect games in 2006-07. The most recorded in any year was 29 in 1986-87. Again, these only included 450’s thrown in sanctioned league and tournament play. Keeping this in mind, many events do not apply for sanctioning and with provincial memberships on the decline, some leagues are opting out of affiliation. My personal rule-of-thumb as far as whether individuals should count their 450’s, is as long as it is played in a certified centre under normal league or tournament conditions using traditional scoring, you may count it. Witnesses, of course, sure help!

I wanted to see approximately what percentage of players out there has thrown a 450, so I checked our O5 Coaches Manual (still online at o5pba.ca) from last year. Even though some players enter false stats (don’t get me started on THAT), I assumed that the high games would be accurate, or at least people who had perfect games would enter them. I discovered that, of the 126 men on the Mens or Mixed teams, 23 of them had thrown a perfect game. Of the 126 women competing in the Ladies or Mixed divisions, 5 had thrown 450’s. In the Seniors division, 7 of the 65 competitors had listed a perfect game to their credit. Based on this sample, my “guesstimate” would have been pretty close, with 20-25% of tournament players (245 average and up) having thrown a perfect game.
So, for those who have thrown a 450, the challenge is still there to get another one. And for those of us who haven’t, the allure of achieving the 12th strike keeps us coming back.

So far this season I have heard about five 450 games, two of which came from the same tournament.

For Oshawa’s Christina Herbert, some of us were surprised to hear that she was even playing in the Pla-Mor Open on August 13th in Port Dalhousie, as she’d just given birth to her (and bowling husband Mike’s) second son Dylan a month earlier. Christina hadn’t played a tournament since May, and had only thrown a few balls earlier that week to try to adjust to “not having the beach ball belly” that she’d carried around for many months previously. With her previous high of 425 (10 in-a-row, chop-off), the thought of a 450 didn’t enter her mind until the 10th strike. This time, she didn’t stop at 10 and went on to join the elusive 450 club!
Not too long after Christina’s perfect game, and never the one to avoid the spotlight, Mitch Davies made it a double-header as he too threw a 450. A star in YBC, Mitch burst onto the adult scene and quickly made a name for himself with an incredible debut in the Masters and in the Open where he averaged over 290 to win Rookie of the Year and help lead (along with Jeff Young who averaged 304) the Hamilton men to a Provincial Championship. An extremely talented competitor, Mitch’s passion for the history, current state and future of the game cannot be questioned. As an example of his drive, when I asked where his 450 ranked personally, Mitch stated “I don’t rank this particularly high, as 450 is still one game. I’m definitely proud of it, but longevity and consistency is the key for this game and for my personal gratification”. Yeah, he might just throw another one sometime!

As one of the game’s young superstars, 18 year-old Jennifer Baker of Edmonton didn’t waste any time getting this season off to a great start by throwing a 450 in her first week of YBC. Prior to her perfect game, Jennifer already had an impressive resume in the sport with a previous high single of 420 and high triple of 964. Her highest ever league average is an impressive 259! Again, just 18, Jennifer has already won the Ladies City High Average twice. Her YBC career includes appearances at 6 Nationals, including a Bantam Girls Singles Silver and back-to-back National Singles titles in ’06 as a Junior and in ’07 as a first year Senior!! Jennifer has also competed in 3 Alberta Winter Games and has an incredible Youth Challenge record, qualifying 6 times for Provincials where she had tremendous team success as well as qualifying for 3 Youth Challenge Nationals. At the YC Nationals, Jennifer has twice won scholarships for making the All-Star Team. In fact, Jennifer has amassed a whopping $7500 through bowling to use toward her post secondary education! With great young stars such as Jennifer, the future of the sport is in good hands!

Just prior to forwarding this article to my boss two weeks ago, I heard of another 450 game. This one came from Barry Byrne from Dickson Bowl in Cambridge, Ontario. Incidentally, Barry threw the first 400 game of the season last year at Dickson. A relative newcomer to the Open qualifying experience, Barry just missed making it out of the powerhouse Tri-County zone at last year’s qualifying round. Certainly that experience, as well as confidence gained from his 450 will help propel Barry’s game to the next level.

And wouldn’t you know it, as I was about to post this once again, I heard through Fraser Hambly (who knows a bit about perfect games) that Andrew Speers had thrown 450 on Monday night at North Park Bowl in Toronto. I met Andrew several years ago when he was a student at our Bowling School and I was thrilled to hear the news, as he is a great young man with a tremendous attitude who works hard at his game and is always willing to learn!!
Once again, congratulations go out to the five newest members of the coveted 450 Club! The rest of us will keep trying.

*Just a note that we do have some other articles in the works including a look at the Bowling Schools around the country and some “23 Questions”. As always, we encourage feedback and ideas, as well as prospective “23 Questions” victims.
I can be reached here, via email at 23barker@gmail.com or on Facebook or Twitter @23barker
Take care, and enjoy the game you love!

Monday, October 24, 2011

For The Kids...

Well, the bowling season is definitely in full swing, and slowly I'm starting to get back to the task on here. One thing that I was able to participate in that I haven't played for a while was the Master/Youth tournament run yesterday. Having enjoyed the event yesterday, it made me disappointed that I haven't played these type of events enough.

I'm sure to any of those Master bowlers out there and parents as well, can relate to the fun and excitement of watching the youth bowlers play. Big smiles for strikes and spares and wild high fives are a common sight, and one that is refreshing for our game. It brings me back to one of the reasons why I enjoyed playing this game growing up. I've always liked the fact that your competitors were there to congratulate you and to give you support even if you were beating them. This is definitely shown in this tournament, since afterall, it IS all about the kids.

And with that notion, something that bothers me, and I've seen it on quite a few occasions, is having to watch the kids bowl without their Master bowler showing up. These kids are our future to the game, and every one of them deserves the same opportunity. Regardless of what event, association or league tournament, when it involves kids, I believe the extra mile needs to be exercised. I think that in order to make them love the game, you need to help them EXPERIENCE the game and show them whats out there. Depriving them of these experiences not only deprive them of playing a competitive event, it also deprives them of a childhood experience. Some of my fondest memories growing up were YBC tournaments, from the Master/Youth type events all the way to Family Twosome. I'm willing to bet that for every current Master bowler or competitive bowler, those same tournaments helped shape the player they are today. I think that if we want to keep our game strong and keep a strong young crop of bowlers joining the adult ranks, we have to let them experience all aspects of the game we love.....Even if that includes making some sacrifices yourself.

Jeff Young

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fighting the Aging Process

While bowling isn't an extremely physical sport, it will wear you down over the years. When I was younger (and I think many can say the same) I took for granted my health. Now, having just turned 32, things are very different.

I suffer from a strutural knee problem on my sliding leg, my elbow hurts and even causes my arm to fall asleep a lot, and my hip bothers me from time to time. After talking to a specialist, it was recommended that I spend time working out my quad muscles to help reduce the pain in my knee. This brings me to an important aspect that I think can really help a bowler's game.....working out.

I think it's important to understand that the repetative nature of bowling will slowly cause damage to your muscles and joints. I know a tonne of bowlers that no longer bowl due to injuries and pains. I think everyone needs to be proactive to protect yourself from your body breaking down.

Common problem areas for bowlers are knees, shoulders and backs. There are many different ways to build these areas, without spending a lot of time invested.

Legs: Start with something simple. A lot of work on your quad muscles can help in this area. Start with squats, without weights and work your way up to light weighted squats. Another good exercise is to do lunges, once again starting without weights then slowly working your way to what is called active lunges.

Shoulders: I think it's important not to overdo your shoulders. A lot of time people try to use too much weight when working out the shoulders. Simple overhead shoulder presses work well. Another great exercise is the shoulder fly. A few reps of these with light to moderate weight will get you feeling the burn in no time.

Back: The back is tricky due to the fect that you don't always feel the burn right away. Be careful not to overwork your back. Bent over rows and back extensions are my personal favourite back exercises.

It's important that even if you're younger and are in great shape, that you should really look at investing the time into doing some light exercises to avoid problems down the road. I've already seen too many great bowlers hampered by problems, which have reduced their bowling abilities and desire and especially with the large increase in hard throwers in our game. Problems will arise down the road and now is the time to prevent those problems when you get older.

Jeff Young

Monday, October 3, 2011

I was recently talking to my friend Brian Whalen in a car ride from Washington to our hotel in Baltimore when we were in the States for a duckpin tournament when of course, we got talking about bowling balls. I’ve never been much of an equipment type of guy (those who know me know that I’ve used the same bowling balls for half my life) but I have noticed something with our bowling ball manufacturers that bothers me. While I think that there are a lot of great options out there now for 5pin bowlers in terms of bowling balls, I think there is something seriously missing.

When I flip through catalogues for 10pin bowling balls, then look at 5pin bowling ball catalogues I see a missed opportunity for our sport. Bowling ball manufacturers in the sport of 10pin create “teams” for their products. They take a group of elite players and use their faces to promote their products and in turn, promote the stars of their game. While the sport of 5pin doesn’t have the profile that 10pin has, there’s no reason why our manufacturers can’t do something similar. There are a ton of great players through out the country that could be used to help promote bowling equipment and could be better utilized to put faces in our game. I’m surprised that there have not been any manufacturers that have gone this route, taking a few players that have found success in our game to help sell their brands. In my mind, it’s a win-win situation. I think our game needs to raise the profile of our bigger names in bowling, giving bowlers across the country the opportunity to put faces to names, while at the same time, find out what products they use to achieve their success. I think that our sport lacks the personal attachment of our equipment, and those that use it.

I know that watching TV or flipping through a magazine, I am constantly seeing prominent figures in sports, that are promoting the products they use to the world. 5pin should be no different. I realize that our scale is much smaller on a whole, but we need to start somewhere. We need to start putting our faces of the game out there for people to see, and to try to raise the profile our game one step at a time. It works well for the other sports, so why can’t we make use of the same idea? Why can't we take those faces we saw on CBC recently and use them to market our products back to our players? They've already been watched, and identified by thousands of people across the country. Taking those identities, and using them to back a certain product gives the manufacturer puts a face to the brand, and more than likely will make it more relative to the sport.

I think that to date, this is a missed opportunity for our sport, our stars and our everyday players. However, I think that with a little bit of effort, the manufacturers for 5pin bowling balls can really make a splash with our community, putting some faces out there and more than likely, selling a whole whack of bowling balls in the process.

Jeff Young

Monday, September 19, 2011

CBC Sports Day In Canada wrap up

I'm sure by now everyone's either saw or heard the event that took place in Calgary, AB on Saturday on CBC. The original plan was to see the one game, four on four, east vs west match at 4:30est until 6:00. And I'm sure you've heard by now that there was an injury in the rugby match that was being shown previous to the bowling. With all that aside, let's take a look in the event itself.

Given that there were only about four frames to see from the match, there was really limited footage to watch. I think that the competitors made the best of the time they had on television, though they were not originally aware that the were pushed to online streaming for the first six frames. I definitely noticed a friendly and enjoyable atmosphere, and with no real prize on the line other than bragging rights, it was to be expected. I think the game iteself was well represented by the bowlers themselves.

I'm definitely not trying to be over critical of what this event showed us, but I think there is a lot for us as a sport to learn, and a lot for CBC to learn as well. I know that the stations stay alive by their sponsors, but I found it extremely hard to keep excited about the match with the constant commercial breaks. I've always thought that a game with momentum is a game worth watching. I found myself flipping to college football during the commercials. This is a dangerous situation for our sport. To the average Canadian, it would be tough to pass up watching a fast paced football game for 5pin bowling.

I think that if there was sufficient time for the match, they could have really profiled the competitors themselves. I'd like to hear from them, see some personality (I was hoping to see some personality during the match but there was limited camera shots of the competitors after the ball was delivered) and something to root for or against. I also think that the commentators have to find a way to be a little more exciting as well. I've already heard from a lot of people about the commentating, and I think some improvement could be done in that regard.

In closing, I would like to say that CBC and C5 did a commendable job with this event. I know that the C5 was put under the gun with a very limited time frame to work with and hopefully if this event happens again next year, they will be able to make this something even bigger than it was this year. To the bowlers, you put on a great display, gave our game some exposure and looked to have some fun while you did so. You guys seemed determined to win, yet displayed it as a fun event. To CBC, thank you for bringing this Canadian game back on Canadian television and I hope that this is a long relationship between CBC and the C5PBA. I think that with some small improvements, this is something that can be really big for the thousands of bowlers across the country. 5pin is back on television, even if it wasn't a full game.

If you missed it or want to see it again, view the streaming from CBC Sports, HERE

Jeff Young

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sports Day In Canada Sept 17, 2011

For this week’s blog, I had originally intended to dig through some old Bowling News and use one, but I thought better of it with a televised tournament coming up this weekend. I wanted to turn my attention to this event, which will be aired on CBC this Saturday, September 17th, from 2:30pm - 4:00pm as part of “Sports day in Canada”. The event will be bowled in Calgary AB and features a 4 on 4 team event, East vs. West match up.

I’ve heard a lot of rumblings about this event right from the moment it was announced, mostly about how the criteria should have come about for picking the members on each team. I think it is important to understand that regardless how the tournament has come about, where it will take place or who was on the teams, we need to step back and realize that this is exposure for our sport. Bringing this event into the fold on national television can really help restore some of the profile our game has lost in the past with losing our televised events due to funding cutbacks. The important thing to remember is that this is a step in the right direction, leading us to more exposure and possible future opportunities down the road for similar events, and possibly bigger events.

Now with all that being said, I do offer a challenge to those who are competing. Make it exciting and worth watching. I recently had a discussion with some top notch bowlers after our first night of our pro league and we all seemed to agree on this premise. In the past, the competitors have generally played without much emotion or moxy. I challenge the competitors to give those who may flip to the channel to watch something to keep their attention. I’m not saying go out there and tarnish the game with attitude but there’s always been that lack of excitement. The PBA has really excelled in the way that they’ve created characters in the game; people to root for or against. They took the game and found a way to keep people’s attention. In the past, I’ve flipped on TSN to briefly watch the 5pin Championships, mostly to see if I know anyone who’s playing. I’ve found that even if I did know the people and were rooting for them, it felt mostly like any time I might see them on the lanes in league or in a tournament. I lacked the excitement needed to continue watching once the person I knew personally had lost. This is where we can change the look and image of our game.

I hope that during the televised event held this weekend, someone steps up to the plate, and delivers some excitement. I know regardless the event will be a great success and a great aide to our game, but let’s push things a little further and make the most of our air time. Let’s give the audience something worth watching, some entertainment, and most importantly, something to remember 5pin by.

Jeff Young

Saturday, September 10, 2011

5pin Bowling arrives in Maryland USA for a night!

July 9th 2011, a few of us 5pin bowlers had a unique opportunity south or the border. Myself, my girlfriend Jen Galbraith, Kristi Lampman, Brian Whalen and Connie Ward spent some time talking to our duckpin bowling friends in the United States to organize a “5Pin night” in Maryland. With the great help from Jason and Kari Saghy, we secured Edgemere Bowl for a few hours on Saturday night to set up 5pin bowling. Special thanks goes to Greg Crunkleton for not only allowing us to set up 5pin at his bowling alley, but even opening up the lanes specifically for us.

Lugging 2 sets of pins with us across the border, we didn’t really know what to expect. We briefly discussed our thoughts on what would happen in the car that contained myself, Jen, Kristi and Karole McDonnell. I thought realistically that we could get upwards of 20 people showing up to try a few frames to see what our game was like. Once we arrived in Maryland, we got confirmation that our event was definitely a go. We were able to tell a few of the DPBA and WNDA members the location and the 8pm start time during our respective shifts that we played.

A bad start to the night was our late arrival to Edgemere but we were encouraged to see Kari and Jason waiting for us as well as Greg. Once we got things going, it seemed to operate quite smoothly. Kudos goes not only to Jen for spending A LOT of the time back behind the lanes setting up pins, but also to Jason Saghy and Greg Crunkleton for learning how our pins were set and also spending a large majority of the time behind the lanes setting up for those interested in trying. Greg later retired to tend to the bar, since the warm summer night left quite a few people craving a beverage of two.

I remember at one specific point, where we allowed a few of our American friends to actually record a game (marked by Jen and Kristi) the bowling alley seemed to jump a few levels in noise. Jason and I peered through the crack of the masking units to see a packed bowling alley. More than a couple people observed it looked like a regular league night with roughly 50 people now in the bowling alley. What an amazing success. Everyone seemed to have a great time, as the Canadians in the bowling alley spent hours discussing the differences in our games as well as our countries. I can only speak for myself, but the pride I felt as not only a Canadian, but as a 5pin bowler as well was something I couldn’t describe. Talking with many of the people in attendance, I found great interest in our game from our American friends. I also found great results as well from them, with special mention going to Kari Saghy for her first ever 5pin game of 328, (I had to assure her that a 328 game was a great score for anyone, not just for someone who had never played before) and Rob Yowell who bowled a 274 game despite his 5 frame in there.

I think the most tell tale sign that this night was a success was during the following day, while playing in the Sunday playoffs in our DPBA event, I spent a fair amount of time talking to people about our event, and assuring them that we would also try to set up another similar event for those who never got the chance to try. I’ve always felt that the games of 5pin and duckpin have a lot to learn from each other and that they can strive together and this could be the first step in showing that to our fellow Canadians playing 5pin. Before long, we could be competing in 5pin events against Americans just as the duck inners do with the Canadians on the DPBA and WNDA tours. With the numbers in our events steadily declining, we welcome any players to our tournaments, whether they be Canadian or not.

Jeff Young

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Big things in 2011-2012?

With the bowling season upon us, this site is now back up and active. While I hope this site does big things this season, I want to hear everyone's personal goals for this year. I've made leaving comments easier on here as some have found out at the end of last season and during the summer months. It doesn't matter how big or small our goals are. They are what drives us and gets us back on the lanes after a tough night in league or a disappointing result in a tournament. It can be a simple goal like trying to improve your average by 10 pins, or a lofty goal like becoming a national champion. Whatever the size of the goal, I'd like to hear it.

My own personal goal is that I'd like to win a medal at the Canadian Open for this first time. I've been fortunate enough to have won 4 medals at Masters Nationals to date, but the Open is one that has seemed to elude me. I'm hoping that this year is the year that I finally attain my goal. If I happen to achieve that goal, then new goals will form and hopefully in time they'll be attained as well.

What do you hope you achieve this year? Let's hear what you got!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Open Nationals Competitors

The Open is just around the corner, being played in Surrey BC, so I thought I would give recognition to those who will be playing for National titles.

Singles Competitors

Singles: Victoria Dacosta, Tony Essar
Mens Team: Mike Warren, Nick Allen, Nick Uttley, Aaron Pennington, Darcy Fiedler, Marco Tsang, Coach Dave Andres
Ladies Team: Kelsy Hogh, Kim Thompson, Kayla Clark, LeighAnne Paull, Mary Ann Sanders, Rhonda Meise, Coach Ed Stepski
Mixed Team: Charmaine Loff, Debbie Neff, Leslea Ferris, Matthew Griffin, Larry Richet, Alex Beltran, Coach Gord Snow

Singles: Bonnie McDonald, Ian Dobbie
Mens Team: Adam Weber, TJ Carriere, Mark Miller, Danny Gomboc, Eric Christensen, Stevan Loertscher, Coach Brian Rossetti
Ladies Team: Beverley Magnus, Jennifer Ladan, Melynda Bruneau, Annette Bruneau, Sheena Owens, Stacey Sanderson, Coach Brenda McCannel
Mixed Team: Alyssa Madsen, Brittney Johnson Olson, Linda Raymond, Rich Weber, Tom Stevenson, Derek Home, Coach Debbie Boswell

Singles: Jackie Spark, Wayne Wolfe
Mens Team: Matthew Fisher, John Rayner, Kerry Sullivan, Dennis Zacher, Steve Robertson, Gary Baba, Coach George Gresty
Ladies Team: Lindsay Berge, Janice Schaan, Julie Bayne, Danielle Leffler, Jamie Dawson, Alysa Spark, Coach Lloyd Wiens
Mixed Team: Simone Leon, Coralee Frank, Aimee Fleming, Jeff Hiibner, Don Clearihue, James Ogilivie, Coach Gord Craig

Northwest Territories
Singles: Kim Bailey, Glen Wallington
Mixed Team: Lillian Crook, Debbie Gillard, Shereen Naidu, John Budgell, Steve O'Brien, Rick O'Brien, Coach Steve O'Hara

Singles: Karen Amrstrong, Steve Jennings
Mens Team: Randy Morrisette, Cordell Galbecka, Matt Turanski, Trevor Cook, Darren Maxwell, Justin Keen, Coach, Andy McBride
Ladies Team: Holly Chaikowski, Sandi Anderson, Lorie Chaikowski, Linda Orne, Barb Kolawchuk, Coach Jim Anderson
Mixed Team: Christy Mitchaluk, Tracy Fleishman, Cathy McPhee-Langlois,  Garry Hamm, Ethan Buckman, Shawn Langlois, Coach Grant Szpak

Northern Ontario
Singles: Yvette MacLellan, Kevin Freeland
Mens Team: Greg DeGrazia, Kyle Goose, Matt McLean, John DeGrazia, Aaron Zewiec, Gene Prpic, Coach Bob Taylor
Ladies Team: Lynn Gosselin, Renee Laframboise, Sarah Umakoshi, Tara Robson, Paula McNamara, Cindy Lalonde, Coach Bill Mitchell
Mixed Team: Lynn Dominelli, Lynn Imbeau, Monique L'Heureux, JR Belisle, Rick Tasse, Moe Beaudoin, Coach Lise Anderson

Singles: Erica Bortolin, Jeff Mawhinney
Mens Team: Wade Thompson, Jim Head, Ian Gawel, Michael Doherty, Danny Pike, Doug Brock, Coach Kevin Jepson
Ladies Team: Karole McDonnell, Kristi Lampman, Christine Mair, Kayla-Marie Anderson, Casey Ramey, Kyla Smith, Coach Andrew Lampman
Mixed Team: Shasta Smith, Megan Flannigan, Cheryl Campbell, Brian Pye, Sean Westhaver, Will Daniel, Coach Jim Muir

Singles: Helene Godmaire, Guillaume Charbonneau
Mens Team: Mike Squires, Bruno Cecyre, Shawn Haley, Patrick Carroll, Eric Villeneuve, Maxime Lafreniere, Coach Gaetan Beauchamp
Ladies Team: Nathalie Parent, Julie Comeau, Karina Martineau, Vanessa Gauvreau, Marie-Josee Cecyre, Julie Lachance, Coach Daniel Lamarche
Mixed Team: Caroline Villeneuve, Natalie Trudel, Isabelle Sogne, Sylvain Bercier, Rene Duguay, Charles Chartrand, Coach Lynn Allard

Singles: Michelle O'Reilly, Lee Escott
Mens Team: Terry Blake, Tony Legge, Robert Crewe, Troy Pardy, Dave Gosse, Jonathan Brennan, Coach Elaine Schulstad
Ladies Team: Genevieve Gillard, Jessica Boundridge, Sharla Nurse, Erin Power, Keri Garland, Catherine Neville, Coach Fred Hawco
Mixed Team: Melissa Manor, Trina Greene, Doreen O'Reilly, Justin Sullivan, Andrew Codner, Robert Williams, Coach Barry Meadus

Nova Scotia
Singles: Chris Hernderson
Mens Team: Bobby Kyte, Trevor Stevenson, Brett Bartlett, Adam Griffin, Al Atwood, Varian Layne, Coach Gail Chambers
Ladies Team: Joanne Blades, Donna Burchell, Debbie Purdy, Melinda Cronin, Sandra Manning-Logan, Coach Janice Sopko-Ellingson

Prince Edward Island
Singles: Randy Diamond
Mens Team: Steve Kneebone, John Walsh, Albert Shepard, Serge Arsenault, Ian Stewart, Jeremy Sudsbury, Coach Gerard Arbing
Ladies Team: Nina Costain, Joanie MacLeod, Stephanie Creed, Valerie Kneebone, Patricia MacKinnon, Coach Rickey Burns

Monday, May 9, 2011

Newbie To Bowling - Tom Paterson

Lately we've concentrated on more of the elite side of things with 5pin bowling.  This week, we're back to basics for the beginner bowler, which I feel is perfect timing for the bowler that has a bowling centre nearby that is open in the summer to practice in.

Newbie To Bowling - by Tom Paterson

So you’ve just started bowling and wonder just how you can improve your game. The goal of all improvement is to gain consistency and thus a good starting point is to understand that the MOST IMPORTANT part of ‘how to’ throw a ball is FOLLOW THROUGH. If there is one thing you work to do – regardless of proficiency, it is to develop a consistent productive follow through. This means that all that stuff about 3 steps and back up ball that coaches may stress is really less important than FOLLOW THROUGH. The trick is…that few know just what makes a PRODUCTIVE FOLLOW THROUGH. To know and learn more about the FOLLOW THROUGH and how to develop it, please check out the article FOLLOW THROUGH found on this web site.

Let me back up a bit. IF FOLLOW THROUGH IS IMPORTANT why do instructors/coaches push for the adoption of the 3 Step Approach and Back Up Ball Delivery? The 3 Step Approach and Delivery provide a simple method of consistently getting from your stance to release point. The key word here is CONSISTENT. If you are consistent with your approach and delivery than…changing to the Three Step may not be all it is cracked up to be. In other words if it’s not broken don’t fix it. So just what are the composite parts that make up for the consistent approach and delivery?

1. Starting and ending your approach at the same spot (if you end your approach 3 boards or more left or right of the board you started from then my question is…are you consistent doing this? IF so…consider not changing because it is consistent.

2. Pace of Approach and Delivery is the pace consistently the same if so…it just might be fine.

3. AND…the third and final part of your approach and delivery and weighing in on whether you have a consistent approach and delivery can be identified by one very simple and practical task. HOLD YOUR FOLLOW THROUGH. If you cannot hold your FOLLOW THROUGH than this is an indicator of an inconsistent or…too fast approach and delivery. Your goal should always be to hold your follow through until the ball hits the pins. IF you cannot HOLD YOUR FOLLOW THROUGH than….working on your approach and delivery and possibly adapting the 3 Step Approach and Delivery may be a good place to start. IF this is where you are at with your game than please consider finding a qualified instructor to assist. Your Bowling Proprietor and/or the MASTER BOWLER’S ASSOCIATION of your province may be able to direct you to the appropriate individual.

A couple of other goodies to offer. IF…you are a young Y.B.C. Bowler and have difficulty holding onto the ball consider purchasing some of the lighter (albeit illegal for 5 Pin) – Candle Pin balls. These are about 2 inches less in diameter and also weigh appreciably less than the legal 5 pin ball. So…if the ball is illegal when do I use it – during your practices. If a purchase of the Candle Pin ball is not possible than go out to Toy’s R Us and purchase a small air filled play ball approximately or a bit smaller than…the 5 Pin ball.

Once your ball problem is sorted out then you can also consider using the air filled ball for practice at home. When I was young I made countless approaches and deliveries down the hallway of our house, rolling the air filled ball down the hallway.

By practicing the 3 Step method prior to actually being able to hold a legally sized ball you will be that much further ahead when your strength and growth allows for you to hold onto the ball.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Something New Something Constructive?

Recently I wrote about trying to make this site more helpful to bowlers.  I added an easy to find link to the site email address and have made leaving comments easier to make on the blogs that we put up to hear what everyone is saying about things that we discuss.  This week, I'd like to try to take a step further in that regard.  Usually, Steve barker would be putting up a "23 Questions" feature in this slot, but we wanted to try something a little bit different this time around. 

Ask any bowler out there their opinion on things such as the state of the game, recent happenings or feats and accomplishments, or what they enjoy about the game and chances are opinions will be varied.  Well, we would like to "open up the floor" so to speak for a little discussion on these sort of things.  We want to hear how you feel about the game you love, but let's keep it in a constructive tone.  Having bowlers dicuss on various topics allow for everyone to get involved as well as allows us to do some homework and get answers, get details or just write about these sort of things in our blogs.  Let's hear what you have to say......and leave a comment below on this blog.

Jeff Young

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Rookie's Retrospect - Josh LeClair

You might remember a story when this site was first starting out, about Josh LeClair, a bowler who had tried several times to qualify for the Ontario Open without much luck.  This season saw LeClair finally get over the hump and make the mixed team, and a chance to compete for a provincial title.  If you haven't read the story, it can be read HERE.  After trying to anticipate how he might feel once the day came, and told us all how he thought he would feel, we find this story as a follow up to Josh's memorable rookie year.

A Rookie's Retrospect

Well my first time bowling at the open has come and gone and it confirmed at least one thing: I sure as heck would rather be competing against these bowlers I see every year than watching or coaching (with all due respect to Katie Jacques my first time coach who did a fantastic job in less than ideal situations at times; sorry coach!).

I can now reflect on all those things that people have told me they have gone through at the open; the first ball jitters, the tension in a tight match and the dynamics of the bench situation. Through my years as a spectator I knew about the noise levels, but it was a little different as a bowler, although it didn’t bother me at all.
Thursday morning I was pretty excited as I had my upbeat music on my mp3 player going feeling a lot of energy just at the hotel. This continued when I arrived at Sherwood as I watched my fellow Westerner Erica Bortolin put on a show qualifying first in Ladies Singles. I was virtually on cloud nine bouncing around the bowling alley in anticipation of the start. For anyone not aware, it’s taken me twelve attempts to qualify for the open, so this was a long day coming for me. As singles wrapped up and I made my way to my lane, the great Connie Ward saw me waiting and asked if it was really my first time (to which many people asked this question throughout the weekend). I confirmed that it was indeed true, and that I wasn’t nervous....at least not at that moment.

Warm up started and I felt pretty good. I like to throw a lot of warm up to get comfortable with a line that works, but I didn’t get as much as I wanted, with twelve bowlers on a set warming up, so I wasn’t quite as comfortable as I would have liked to be. Once announcements got going and they started the scoring machines and the line-ups popped up on the screen, I couldn’t stop myself from having the biggest smile on my face seeing my name in that leadoff spot. I’ve wanted to see that for so long.

Getting to the task at hand, now it was time for the dreaded first shot. I think if it wasn’t built up by everyone to me I wouldn’t have been nervous at all....but I was a little shaky....and I ended up picking. Hitting the middle was good and now I could try and settle in. I was a little nervous for the first five frames or so, but I felt so good up there I relaxed and finished big, throwing the last four strikes for 298. Not too shabby for a seasoned rookie! I took my match point over Dallas Bentien, a darn good bowler and even better man (kudos to Dallas for his military service). Unfortunately for my team, we lost 6-2.

For the next three games I continued to feel really good, scoring just ok but nothing special, as the team as a whole struggled to get going. We went into the break losing four straight, with only 6 points to show for ourselves. After the break we got on the board with our first two wins to close out day one with a disappointing 18 points, although it was looking like it was going to be worse. I averaged 230 for the day, with a couple of rough games at the end (ironically when I started to struggle, the team came alive).
I didn’t feel as good throwing the ball Friday as I did Thursday, but scored better (this game is funny like that!). To make a long story short, the team finished strong, as we garnered the 4th most points from the 5th game on, but it was just too much to recover from after our slow start. I was proud to be a part of this team, with fellow rookie Jason Forsyth (himself no spring chicken either as his 20’s have passed him by), Central Ontario import Matt Walker who had a hell of a second day averaging 258 for 7 games, and ladies Tammy O’Neil, who was full of energy after being away from the Open for several years, Patty Dierckens with some great experience from last year’s ladies team and the baby of the team Stephanie Oldridge, almost 10 years younger than the next youngest on the team! Kudos once again to our coach Katie Jacques, herself a rookie in that role.

I faced some excellent bowlers in matches, such as Brian Pye from the winning Tri-County team, Jeff England, Meghan Blewitt, Gord Cluff, Jay Berryman, Larry Murphy, Bucky Faulkner and fellow rookie Tyler Wendel out of Niagara region, who was a mirror image of me, bowling 130 frames, winning 8 match points and having a total pinfall of 3,160, exactly one pin more than myself. He takes bragging rights with a 304 to my 259 in our match. Great showing Tyler.

I had three goals heading into the tournament: win the tournament and go to Nationals, average 250 and win the rookie award. Although I didn’t accomplish any of those goals, I am still proud of how I did. By no means did I let my team down or embarrass myself competing at the highest level. Turns out I could have averaged 250 (I finished at 243), and I still would have come up short for the rookie award, as Brian Sillett averaged an incredible 262 (winning nine match points), leading his Tri-County men’s team to a 2nd place finish. Great bowling Brian.

I’d like to thank all the people who wished me well and also asked how I did (as well as everyone who wondered how the heck a guy like me can be a rookie when I’ve always been in Hamilton Easter weekend!). It was a humbling and rewarding experience. I’m looking forward to using the confidence I’ve obtained this year to accomplish even more next year.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Steve Barker's 23 Questions: Wade Thompson

We wait four months for it to arrive and "bam", it's all over. For those of us who didn't win our Provincial Open, it's a long summer and fall until qualifying finally begins again. For those who took home Gold and will be representing their Province in B.C., the quest for a National title is still ongoing.

Here in the southern part of Ontario, our week in Hamilton started on Wednesday with the first shift of Senior teams, followed by the "Hall of Fame Game". And wasn't it awesome to see some of our Legends out there, including Al Snow who, now into his eighties, shot a 229. Also putting on a great performance was Donny Betts, who's always been one of my personal idols. He won the "Hall of Fame" Game, and then went on to average 255 for the week while playing for the Niagara Mixed Team.

In the 1st five games of Singles on Wednesday, both defending champs started out well as Connie Ward shot 1339 and Terry Little put a bad first game aside to shoot 1418. Connie would have an even-better second day to finish with 2747 for 10, good enough to qualify second. Terry went on to shoot 2649, and finished 12th.

There were other fireworks on Wednesday as well, including Wade Thompson who started with a 249, then shot 399 and 418 before struggling a bit the last 2 games. Wade would go on to have another great day on Thursday, putting him in top spot for the men with a 10-game total of 2859. Leading the list for the women was Erica Bortolin, who put together a 10-game score of 2831. We will get back to the Singles competition later.

In the ever-popular Senior Mixed division, the crew from Ottawa Valley qualified 1st, and went on to beat Tri-County in the final. Congratulations to Rejean Menard, Bernie Menard, Dave Anderson, Rose Graves and Michelle Balcombe, as well as their coach George Chrulenko.

The first ever Senior Singles stepladder final was also very exciting.

In the Women's final, Diane Martin from Western Ontario defeated the great Diane MacLeod of York-Simcoe 248-237.

On the Men's side, Peter Pettinger of Tri-County averaged 269 to win his first 3 games, climbing the ladder to meet Ottawa Valley's Rejean Menard in the final. In a tremendous match, Rejean's 305 bested Peter's 287 to give Rejean the title.

In the Mixed Team division, Grand River defeated Middlesex Elgin and Central Ontario on the way to playing Tri-County in the Final. Tri-County would take the Gold, led by Sean Westhaver's 322 in the final match. Joining Westhaver on the Gold Medal squad from Tri-County are Brian Pye, Will Daniel, Shasta Smith, Megan Flannigan, Cheryl Campbell and their coach Jim Muir. Kudos also go out to Kevin Joseph of Grand River, who shot 939 for his 3 games in the stepladder.

In the Ladies competition, the gals from Tri-County were once again dominant as they finished the round robin with 83 points, losing only once in the 13 games. Second after the round robin was Hamilton with 75. Finishing 3rd and 4th were Niagara and Ottawa Valley, having 65.5 and 63 points respectively. In the stepladder, Ottawa beat Niagara and Hamilton to play Tri-County in the final. In the final match, 300 games by Casey Ramey and Kayla Anderson were the difference as Tri-County was victorious once again, winning 5-3. Along with Casey and Kayla, the team includes Christine Mair, Kristi Lampman, Karole McDonnell, Kyla Smith and their coach Andrew Lampman.

In the Men's event, the round robin results were up in the air until the final game. The #1 seed went to Tri-County, which meant that all of their teams lead the round robin competition! Tri-County finished with 67.5 points, just 1 ahead of Hamilton. In third spot was Central Ontario followed by Grand River. In the first stepladder match, Central shot a solid 1333 to win 7-1. In the second match against Hamilton, they got even hotter, firing a 1453 to reach the finals. In the finals, Central would have to win twice to knock of the top seeded Tri-County. Central stayed on a nice roll and won both games to take the title. Their team, coached by Kevin Jepson includes Doug Brock, Mike Doherty, Jim Head, Wade Thompson, Ian Gawel and Dan Pike.

The Ladies portion of the Singles stepladder was an awesome display of talent. In the opening match, Lindsay Laporte defeated her Central Ontario teammate Melissa Llewellyn 290-252. Lindsay's job would get incredibly tougher as she would have to play against two Legends and one current Superstar to have a shot at the crown. In her next game, Lindsay shot a 269 to beat Brenda Pankoff. That meant that she'd have to play Connie Ward next. In a great semi-final game, Lindsay prevailed 304-261 to reach the final against top seed Erica Bortolin. The game was tight all the way, and Erica threw a strike in 9 and a double in the tenth to force Lindsay to have an amazing finish herself. Lindsay came up just short, as Erica won 299-290 in a superb match. Lindsay shot an impressive 1153 for her 4 games, and Erica added "Ontario Open Singles Champion" to her already awesome (and still growing) record. And true to her "23 Questions" interview previously, Erica claimed to have "no idea what the score was or what she needed going into the last two frames".

On the Mens side, Bobby Torraville defeated Huronia's Andrew Wilkie 297-234 in the first match. Bobby then lost to fellow Metro Toronto teammate Jeff Mawhinney 267-243. In the semi-final, Jeff threw a 336 at former champ Kris Babuik to reach the final. The final match saw an interesting scenario, as top seed Wade Thompson had already won with the Central Men, and with the new Nationals rule stating you could only play one event, a victory would mean that Wade would have a difficult decision to make. Wade would go on to win the final match for his 2nd Open Singles title. Wade has decided to bowl with his team at the Nationals in B.C., so Jeff Mawhinney will represent the O5 in Singles play. I had a chance to speak to Wade shortly after the Open, and you can read that interview at the end of this segment.

I'd like to offer my congratulations to our two "Rookie of the Year" winners. They were Brian Sillett of Tri-County, and Michele Boulter of Niagara who each averaged 262. Other fine performances from first-time Open participants included Katlyn Saar of Ottawa Valley (258 avg.), Mike Torraville of Huronia (242 avg., 408 single) and Tyler Wendel of Niagara (243 avg.).

Ah yes, and some of you may be wondering how our friend, Josh LeClair made out in his first Open, after many pain-staking years of coming close. (If you haven't read Josh's earlier article here: you should!) Well he did just fine, averaging 243 for the Western Mixed team, while playing most games in the leadoff or anchor spots.. And now that the gorilla's off his back, he can't wait to come back next year.

Kudos also to Brad Rowland of York-Simcoe, who averaged over 280 to set the new 13-game record.
The High-Single winners were Ian Gavel (425) of Central, and Kim Utley (395) from Grand River.

As always, thanks to Sid Morris, Nith Valley Construction all of the sponsors and the O5 staff and volunteers who made these championships possible!

A special thank-you once again to outgoing President Dave Post and also to long-time Executive Director Al Hong, who will be retiring this summer. Both men have dedicated their life to our sport and we greatly appreciate it!!

As Jeff Young mentioned in Monday's blog, many positive things came from our Ontario Open. One of these is the staggering number of "hits" to the O5 website during the competition. Traffic on o5pba.ca peaked on Saturday, with over 130,000 hits!!

The Open is huge in all provinces and we encourage everyone to post and look at results from across the land.

I am continuing to attempt to take "23 Questions" nationwide, and have some correspondence in the works with bowlers from around the country. I hope to get to your favourite player soon.

Following his amazing week in Hamilton, this week's "23 Questions" features a quick chat with Wade Thompson.

Wade, it'd be silly to ask how you're feeling after such an emotional high, so I won't ask the obvious. Having two reserved seats for the "Head Table" at the banquet must be an awesome feeling. Can you reflect back and tell us how this whole bowling journey began?
I've been bowling for as long as I can remember. My grandfather bowled, and my dad bowled, and he got my mom into it. I don't know how old I was the first time I threw a ball down a lane, but I do know my first recorded game was when I was 2 years old. (My mom still keeps the score sheet in her bowling bag). I started YBC at Queensway bowl in Toronto when I was 5.

Your first Nationals appearance was about 10 years ago in Winnipeg. Is that when your adult career really took off?
2002 was a good year. It was the first time I won the Zone Qualifier, so that was a milestone for sure, and our men's team went to Nationals for the first time in a while, but I think if I had to pick one period of time it would have to be 2005-2006. I gained a lot of confidence from winning the singles at the 2005 Ontario Open. I gained more from playing well at the Nationals, but I think the biggest factor was making the stepladder again at the 2006 Provincials.

This is your 11th Open, and 6 of those years you made Singles, which is impressive qualifying out of Central Ontario. And in those years, you've made the Singles stepladder 4 times and won with teams 4 times! To what do you attribute your Open success?
I think the fact that my entire season is focused on the Open plays a big part. September to November is for getting ready for qualifying. From mid December to Easter I'm preparing for the Open. I read Jeff's blog a couple of weeks back about the Open, and he spoke about how some people base the success of their year on how well they do at the Open. I'm one of those guys. If the Open's a failure, the year has been wasted.

The other big factor is the quality of the teammates I have had. You don't have a chance in teams without having 6 really good bowlers, and coming out of a strong zone like Central, I've been fortunate to have been on some great teams. The teams I've won with have included players like Liz Nicoll, Jason Procher, Bill Schwemlein, Jim Head, John Mattioli, Ian Gawel, Brian Kaye, all of whom have won multiple times in the Open, in Masters, and various other tournaments.

What players and coaches have helped to influence your career at each level?
My dad was the biggest influence on me through YBC. He was there every week, and for a long time he was the only person I would listen to. I met Joe Zammit when I was first starting out at Queensway Bowl, and he has also been a big influence, much more so as an adult.

As far as players go, that's a much tougher question. My dad was always a 250 – 260 average bowler, but he wasn't a tournament bowler, so I had very limited exposure to the great players that were around as I grew up in the 80s. I played a couple of Master Bantams with guys like Basil Gasdia, John Renouf, and I think I played one with Connie D'Alessandro. At the adult level, just playing against so many great players has pushed me to get better.

To put it mildly, you are "ultra" intense on the lanes. How do you think this helps you, and can it also be detrimental at times?
I'll start with how it can be detrimental, because that to me is the more obvious side of it. I think it has hurt my team in the past, more so early on than now, but I've seen it happen. If I'm not playing well, what people see is negative, and that vibe can affect a team negatively, just like the same intensity level can have a lifting affect when the vibe is positive.

For me personally, I feel like that intensity is essential for me to be playing well. Even if I'm struggling, and it looks like I'm about to explode, my mind is working in overdrive trying to figure out what's wrong. I never throw shots away out of anger, it's not like that. I just can't contain the emotion. I tried once, for a few months, and it didn't work out very well. I played horrible, I felt terrible, and I was stressed out like you wouldn't believe. I'm better off letting out the frustration, because it allows me to focus on the next shot.
When I'm playing well, the intensity keeps me focused. The one thing that hurts me there is that if I get on a run I can get moving too fast, and that's a hard thing to control.

Did your past experience help you in the Singles finals, with the confidence that you've won before?
I think it helped. I definitely wasn't as nervous as I was the first time I played in the stepladder. I've gotten more and more comfortable every time I've been out there. The first time I made it, I remember looking back at the crowd when I walked out and thinking “Wow, that's a LOT of people”. The “butterflies” that that look back caused were intense enough that I didn't look back again until the game was over.
Your team went on a great run during the Stepladder, beating Grand River, Hamilton and then Tri County twice. In addition to your own previous Stepladder experience in Teams and Singles, how much of a factor was it that 3 members of your team had won previously? Or were you simply on a roll?
It was a little of both I think. We got off to a great start against Grand River, and carried that through the match against Hamilton. Once we reached Tri County, we slowed down a little, and I think that's where some of the past experience really took over. The early part of the game was a struggle, but everyone fought through it in the middle and we got a good lead going into the last third of the game. The 4th game was the same. A bit of a slow start and then Mike and Jim took off and we took over through the middle of the game.

After your great stepladder run to win the Men's Team event, you were the top Singles seed but knew you'd have to decide which event to play at Nationals if you were to win the Singles. Was this on your mind in the final match or had you already made your decision?
I had already made the decision. I pretty much knew what I was going to do, but I spoke to Al Hong right after we had finished the Team stepladder to clarify the rule, and what would happen depending on what my choice was. Once that conversation was over, I spoke to a couple of the guys on my team and told them that regardless of the outcome of the Singles, I'd be playing Teams at Nationals.

There was a really nice moment at the Open banquet when the announcement was made that you'd chosen to play Teams at Nationals. What went into that decision and might it have been different if you hadn't previously had a chance to play Singles at the Nationals?
My previous Singles appearance, to be honest, actually had the reverse affect. It made it that much harder to let it go. I came so close to winning the Nationals in 2005, and I've wanted nothing more than to get another shot at it ever since. I can't say for sure how much different it would have been if I had never played Singles at Nationals, but I don't think it would have changed my decision.

At the end of the day, the decision didn't just affect me, it affected 5 other guys. For me to leave the team for my own personal goal would be selfish, and unfair to them. We set a goal as a team to win the Provincials, and then to win the Nationals. We were fortunate to be successful with the first step, and there is no way I could abandon the team halfway through.

Well Said!! Congratulations again and good luck in B.C.!

As I mentioned above, keep the comments and feedback coming in. Many results from around the country are posted on the respective provincial associations' websites, so check them out. Also, Jeff has posted his contact info on the top corner of the page, so feel free to send any stories or info his way.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Well, another Ontario Open has come and gone leaving some of us with dreams attained, dreams dashed and maybe dreams discovered. This was the first Provincial Open tournament that has been played since this site was born and I will say one thing; This is the first year that I’ve spent the majority of my time off the lane talking about nothing but bowling. The most important thing though, is that it was POSITIVE talk about bowling.

I would like to say, before I go any further on this blog, congratulations to all those competed in their provincial championships and especially those who have walked away with some medals around their necks. A big special congratulations go to all those who will be competing for their respective provinces at the national championships in Surrey BC in June.

One great experience from this year’s event was that I was able to spend considerable time talking to many of the people who have spent time and energy contributing to this site to make it what it is and I can honestly say that, as long as there are people out there like yourselves working hard to make the game what it is today, 5pin bowling has a bright future ahead. Talking to everyone this week has made me realize one important thing; that this site seems to be doing what I’ve originally intended it to do, but at the same time, must grow leaps and bounds to make it what I ultimately want it to be. The content currently on this site is merely a stepping stone to where I’d like it to be.

You may notice that there is a new easy to find email link in the top left corner of this site. I encourage everyone to use this email link to offer suggestions, send comments or questions. With more feedback we can take our thoughts in the direction of what readers would find useful. The more we have to go on, the more useful content we can supply.

One feature we’d like to try to implement is a library of 5pin bowling YouTube videos to watch. Over the next couple weeks, we’re going to search YouTube to give everyone a single source to find videos of people bowling 5pin. This will hopefully lead into something that I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now; YouTube coaching videos.

I’m very open to hearing what people would like to see here on this site and I would really like to hear what people want to see. This site is for helping bowlers and the best way to achieve our goal is to hear from bowlers and try to cater to their needs. And if you happen to see me in a tournament, feel free to approach me and talk about bowling, this site or anything. Our goal here is to promote the game and work to make it better, and it all starts with conversation.
Jeff Young

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's Time For The Open -John Honeyford

As we approach the end of another bowling year, the big weekend of the bowling season is upon us. A few provinces have already had their Open championships, and the
rest will contend for their respective crowns over Easter weekend. For many it is the most exciting week of the year – a time to renew friendships and to partake in what the competitive side of bowling is really all about.
Bowling for a national championship in 5-Pin has been around since 1953, but previous incarnations actually go back many years before that. The CBA was created in late 1926 following a meeting at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto, and part of their mandate was to create a national championship for 5-Pin Bowling. The first CBA tournament was held in March 1927 at Karry’s Terauley (on the site of what is now the north end of the Eaton Centre) in Toronto. The event was held in alternating seasons at Karry’s and Olympia Gerrard (that building is still there) for over 20 years, though the CBA tourney was primarily an Ontario event. It grew to a point in 1950 where there were over 5000 entries covering all of the events (teams/doubles/singles). There were also classic and industrial-team divisions in later years.
Meanwhile, the 5-Pin game was growing by leaps and bounds in the West with the advent of City Championships that were held in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, and Vancouver with the establishment of associations, starting with Winnipeg in 1928. Edmonton held their first City finals in 1930, and other cities followed. In late 1944 the Western Canada Association was created and the first Championship was held in April 1945 reporting by telegraph between the 6 cities.
Bill Hawrylak of Regina, who led the Western association and Charlie Hill from the CBA in Toronto got together and over a couple of years they devised a plan to hold a true ‘Dominion’ Championship, and in 1953 this came to be, despite the fact that the west and the east were playing with 2 different scoring systems. They agreed to use both systems for 5 games each across 10 games.
The singles finalists to determine the Eastern singles representative came from district roll-offs, one of which was the Toronto and District Match Play Championships which were held at the old Ace Bowling Centre on the Danforth in Toronto, with a 10 game qualifier followed by 5-game single knockout elimination matches to the end from a round of 64. Tommy Mallon from Toronto defeated Tommy Sutcliffe 1414-1381 in front of some 600 spectators (the old Ace was a 2-floor 32 lane house so it would have been a bit tight). The Eastern final match was held on a specially installed lane at the CNE during the Sportsmen’s Show sponsored by Molson’s, with Tommy Mallon winning the 10 game final and $500 with 2636. The team final was won by Seagram’s from the City Major League in Toronto who defeated the Ace Bowling Centre team by 23 pins at Karry’s with 6015 for 5 (24 teams).
In Regina the first ‘Dominion’ championship was held. There was only a Men’s singles and Men’s team event the first year which was held at the Bolodrome. The Regina men won, and Tommy Mallon won the singles with 2393. Molson’s came on as a sponsor in 1954 for the national event held in Windsor with both Ladies and Men’s teams and singles competing. A yearly national event was born, and later in 1960 the mixed team event was added.
It became practice to hold the Western and Eastern events and then immediately hold the Nationals on the following 2 days in one of the host cities. During the 60’s most of the events were 8-game total pin fall formats, and the 1964 national event was particularly memorable as it was held in the Regina Armories, with Brunswick installing 6 brand new lanes along with A-50 Pinsetters. Billy Hoult spared a right side split in the 7th game of the 10-game final, and then went on to win the title in the last game with a hit in the 9th, the first one in the 10th, and a corner spare to win by 15 pins in front of a capacity crowd.
The disputes over the counter pin ensued in the late 60’s and this caused the Open Nationals to be cancelled from 1969-71. In 1972, the Open resumed in Saskatoon, and Peterson points were used in singles for the first time. In 1973 they reverted to straight pin fall for singles (12 games) in Winnipeg, and in 1979 the 8-point system was used for teams for the first time.
The numbers of bowlers and zones continued to grow through the peak years in the 70’s, and eventually CBC extended their coverage of 5-Pin to include live coverage of the Open Nationals singles starting in 1989 in Red Deer which were broadcast yearly until 1996. Who can ever forget Ernie Afaganis (!).
The increase in the volume of newspaper archives continues to bring out many stories from the old days of the Opens across the country and its predecessors that are quite fascinating to read. There is definitely one thing can that can be drawn from reading through these articles, and it is that the spirit and passion continues with the people who play this game today, along with all of the good memories that it creates. Have fun, bowl well.      

Thursday, April 14, 2011


From April 10-16, we are celebrating "National Volunteer Week" so once again, I am putting my regular interview feature on hold to honour the men and women who dedicate their time so that we can enjoy the game we love.

For those of us who grew up in the YBC, we fondly recall the coaches, secretaries and program directors who worked so hard to make our game fun. While we saw them each week at the lanes, we didn't get to see the amount of time they spent throughout the week doing the standings and stats, preparing tournaments and all of the other organizational duties involved in running a successful program. Their workload is much greater than most people realize. For those of us with kids who bowl, helping out the other kids while we are there can just be a fun way to stay busy, since we're there anyways. Some programs, such as ours' at Neb's Fun World have 3 shifts and some of the volunteers are there ALL DAY, from 8:30 in the morning until almost 4:00 in the afternoon! These are the folks who deserve a pat on the back, especially since some of them don't even have kids in the program. Even for YBC tournaments, much more is involved than the average child or parent would realize.

Here in Ontario, there are 12 Zone Reps who attend several meetings each year to plan for the Zone and Provincial events, which are overseen by Melanie Girard and the Bowl Ontario staff, who do an outstanding job at running the program. The average bowler would have no idea how much planning goes into booking lanes, making lane draws, lane sheets, ordering awards, etc. This list goes on and on.

Even in the adult ranks, the average league requires qualified folks to ensure that things run smoothly. League executives, especially secretaries and treasurers put in more hours than people would think.

Those who have been fortunate enough to participate in a National Championship at any level quickly understand how much work is involved to run such a large event, and that you definitely need lots of volunteers. Our Championships are always in good hands, whether run by Bowl Canada, the C5PBA or the MBAC, but running events of this magnitude wouldn't be possible without a spirited team of helpers to take care of transportation, souvenirs, 50/50 tickets, being a Judge of Play, meals, or any other tasks that may arise.

Many people also forget to realize that the individuals who sit on our Provincial Board of Directors are also volunteers. Until I got involved with our Bowling School here in Ontario, I had no clue as to how much planning and how many meetings were involved to ensure that all of the bases were covered with each event. These people really know what they're doing! In speaking to Al Hong, himself a LIFE MEMBER of the C5PBA who has played a huge role in our game from his time working out west, to running the C5 for many years, and who has been Executive Director of the O5PBA since 1994, he gave me an idea of what is involved in being a Board Member. The O5 holds 12 monthly meetings each year in addition to overseeing all of the other committee meetings for events such as the Bowling School, Open or Convention. In total, members attend approximately 20 meetings per year on top of the prep work they do on their own, and don't forget that they also attend and run the events.

The Open itself, is a huge undertaking for the O5. On top of all the work with the host committee, many Board members are there all week starting with preparing the centre and setting up the bleachers on Monday, and running the Press Conference on Tuesday, and finalizing everything for the competition to begin on Wednesday.

Although there has been a bit of chatter about the possibility of moving the Open out of Sherwood, the one thing that would be difficult to replace is the awesome staff of volunteers provided by the local Hamilton Association. According to Al, on top of the O5 staff, approximately 30 people give up their time to help out each Easter! It would be difficult for any other zone to replicate that support!

Many additional organizations also rely heavily on volunteers including each provincial Masters Association, as well as Y.A.B.A. here in Ontario.

Other unsung heroes in our game are the people who put in countless hours with our local associations. I recently spoke to Heather Cresswell, a long-time (that sounds OLD- she's not, she just started YOUNG) member of the York-Simcoe board who currently serves as their President. According to Heather, the YS5PBA holds 8 general monthly meetings during the season, plus one annual general meeting. In addition, they hold 8 executive meetings plus 1 to prepare for convention and also 1 in the late-summer to prepare for the upcoming season. Oh, and did I mention that she also works with the O5 helping with marketing and attends 8-10 of those meetings each year. In addition to Heather's work, her husband John is the Vice-President of the O5PBA and also sits on the York-Simcoe Board. Heather figures that John attends close to 30 meetings a year between his two posts. And don't forget, all of this doesn't include all of the time they spend planning for and running tournaments throughout the year. And in case you thought I was finished with the Heather and John, they also both work a shift of Bingo each week to help with fundraising! Amazing dedication!! (And don't forget to buy your 50/50 tickets from Heather at the Open.)

Many of our amazing volunteers wear different hats in representing our game, but I'm not sure anyone has held more jobs than our own O5 President, Mr. Dave Post.

Dave has served for many years in just about every capacity imaginable. In the YBC, Dave has been Program Director, coach and even Zone Rep. Dave has also coached in 22 consecutive Opens and has taken 2 Youth Challenge teams to Nationals, winning gold in 1999. As a volunteer in the adult ranks, Postey started with his local Board in Great Pine Ridge which later became part of Kawartha Lakes. In 1997, he moved on to the O5PBA Board and became our President in 2004, replacing one of his mentors, Jennifer Guay. Dave is also 1st V-P of the C5PBA and in 1997 was inducted into the Builders Division of our O5PBA Hall-of-Fame. When I spoke to Al Hong, he estimated that Dave attends approximately 45 meetings per year as well as 6 major tournaments. On top of all of the work he does at home preparing for everything, Postey spends about 100 days per year working on our sport! And keep in mind, many of those are weekends.

This will be Dave's last year serving as President of the O5, and on behalf of bowlers from coast-to-coast, and especially from those here in Southern Ontario, we thank him for everything he has done for our game and wish him well as he takes a well-deserved break to golf, spend time with his family and watch the Petes LOSE! (Sorry, I'm from Oshawa, had to throw that in!) Cheers Dave!!

As I mentioned, there are incredible people all across this land who dedicate their time and effort to make this great game more enjoyable for everyone. The next time you're having a blast playing the game you love, make sure you thank the people who made it possible!

As always, thanks for reading and feel free to add your own "National Volunteer Week" tribute in the "comments" section below, or on the FACEBOOK group.

For those participating, good luck in the Open next week!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Getting To Winning - Tom Paterson

It is natural to be nervous. This nervousness can work for you. Do you have to be nervous? There are never any absolute “have to’s” HOWEVER…nervousness is a sign that you are motivated, and that what you are about to do means something to you.

The more you want something – the greater the emotional and intellectual investment. So…know that IF you fall short of your goal and do not win…you may be very upset with yourself, despondent and simply feel really down. That is okay. In fact this is likely where the saying the pain and agony of defeat. All of this is natural.
If winning the championship is what you want, than know this…winning may be the most satisfying reward in competition BUT…Winning is not easy.

Winning takes commitment, and depending on just how far you want to go winning will also require sacrifice. Of course you can avoid the sacrifice part by simply not committing but then of course…you likely won’t win.

Being prepared is about stacking the odds in your favor. It is about building your success one brick at a time. In professional sports the athletes, coaches and owners frequently say…sport is all about winning. The Pro will say ‘They are in the business of winning.’ This contradicts reality. Focusing exclusively on winning without regard for the details of preparation and focus on the action of doing and living in the now – will most assuredly lead you down a path of disappointment and unfulfilled dreams.

There are no guarantees, therefore it is important to understand the difference between ‘I Will’ and ‘Having the Will’ BUT…if you commit, invest, sacrifice, focus on the details, focusing on the action of doing, and staying in the here and now…you will be putting yourself in the right place to give yourself the opportunity to win. Remember each and every time you compete you have opportunity to win, and winning tends to go to the prepared.

The most beautiful thing about commitment, investing, sacrificing, learning to focus on the detail, focusing on the action of doing, and staying in the here and now is that – you will find many rewarding things along the way. If you keep in mind that sport is ultimately about the test you will leave learning more than just how to win.

Learning Success
Sometimes all we really need is to self exam ourselves and from there we find our way. There are also things you can reflect on that help lead successful people to repeated success. What follows is exactly a list like that. Check it out. Of these strategies and habits what are you currently doing? What may you have gotten away from doing? And…what can you do? What follows is essentially a list of strategies and/or habits to get into, all of which help build a path to success.

Goal Setting –
Write it down
· Set reasonable and attainable goals that challenge you that are;
· High but achievable, specific rather than vague, measurable rather than subjective
· For every results goal identify 4 process goals (things you will do to get you to your result)

Take a measure of your commitment D.W.Y.S.Y.W.D. – 3weeks later
· Are you doing what you said you will do?
· Are you consistent sticking to your plan?
· Do you want this as much now as you did when you started?

Learn to “Keep a Healthy Perspective” by planning perspective right from the very beginning.
· You always have the power of choice - learn, focus on the upside, move on.
· When you have worked out the perspective you want to take into competition test it out by doing the mental check asking the following three questions of yourself:
o Does it make sense?
o Is it logical?
o Can I do it?

Learn to frame what you say
· Look at situations as a benefit rather than a loss. Find the competitive edge.
· Separate ‘self’ from the ‘act’ – what you do does not define who you are.
· It is not the experience BUT RATHER the meaning we give our experience that counts the most
· Praise your effort, persistence, perseverance, and determination

Rehearse your lessons learned
· Take what you have learned and rehearse them in your head and in your practices. So that your response becomes automatic
· Be glad you were there, what are all the upsides
· What you did today beats many other things, like…doing the dishes, staying late at work, dealing with a cranky kid.
· I learned so much just by being there! It was exciting, and I most definitely want to do the work to come back again.

What are the mental challenges you have put in front of yourself?
· I am not sure I can do this – I have never won this before.
· He is better than me
· I always screw up towards the end
· If I could only get that third strike

Who loves you?
· Usually your best and most consistent support comes from the people who love you. – Lean on Them
· Surround yourself with people that will be truthful and positive
· Remember you will be loved and respected no matter what
· Do it for you – more than for them
· What can you add to your game from others
· We can learn by watching and then emulating the skills, or mind set of others we admire

Journal it
· Many people only do half the job – they think it, but don’t bother to write it down.
· Writing down your reflections – gets your brain thinking in ways beyond ‘just thinking’
· Writing it down gives you an easy reference to refer back to.
· Mental notes not written down are forgotten more easily. You may recall the stand out moments but…not the little things that happened along the way to the ‘big moment’ that you.
· So you remember losing to the favorite of the tournament and how you wish you had it to do over again. What you forget is that you were doing well but when you missed your spare in the 4th frame you got down on yourself and stayed there for 3 frames.
· Confidence can be fleeting – having the opportunity to re-read and replay your successes can help build consistency with your successes

Friday, April 8, 2011

Riding The Pine - Steve Barker

As we get precariously closer to "Open" season, I'm putting my regular interview feature on hold for a week to discuss something different.
In an earlier post, Jeff wrote a great piece on the "lead-off" position in the lineup, so I  thought I'd give you my take on another spot in the order- the "bench". In my opinion, the bench or sub is one of the most important roles on a team and is often misunderstood and under-utilized. The use of the bench is also the most hotly debated issue when discussing how well a coach handles a team.
Most rookies or inexperienced players who are asked to start on the bench wrongly consider it a demotion or think that the coach is showing little confidence in them. Well, anyone who has had team success at a Provincial or National level can tell you that this is NOT the case. In almost every instance, the sixth player plays a vital role in the success of the team.
There are many ways that a bench player can help a team.
Firstly, they must stay upbeat and positive to help the squad's morale. Also, because the coach is usually watching the scores and the person on the lanes, the sub can also act as an assistant by lending an ear for a team-mate who is struggling and needs to vent their frustration. The sixth player can also be an additional set of eyes or ears for the coach, as well as someone the coach can talk to if they need a second opinion.
It is also vital that the person who doesn't start the game emits a feeling of confidence throughout the team. When you are in the starting line-up and are struggling, it's much easier to play when you have faith in the person who might be coming in. If the bench player is struggling with their game and their confidence, it makes the players who started the game "press" that much more.
And by staying upbeat and being a great "team" player who doesn't complain about their role, you make the coach's job easier and the team stronger!
As mentioned before, how a coach uses the bench position, and how aggressive he/she is at making a "pull" goes a long way in determining how a team will do.
The decision of who to sit is usually one of a coach's toughest. Many times a coach will have a plan heading into an event, only to have it blow up after a game or two. One of the determining factors for whom to start on the bench can be the experience of some of the team members.
If there are rookies or folks who haven't been there in a while on the team, some coaches (me included) like to get a newcomer's feet wet by starting them in the first game. Other coaches like to ease them in and start them on the bench. In many cases it also depends on the player and how their nerves are, as people handle different situations differently.
A coach will often have an idea of who is going to play Leadoff, 4th or Anchor, and have some options for the remaining positions.
Once someone proves themselves as effective off the bench, it can be hard for them to find a starting spot, as any coach loves the comfort of having someone there that they can rely on. For people who would rather bowl more than sit, being really good off the bench can be a double-edged sword! Coaches also struggle with the decision whether to start someone who just got pulled in the next game or to give them a break. For me, it again depends on the situation and the personalities involved.
The use of the sub also depends on the team. If the team is balanced from top-to-bottom, then the strategy is simpler and making the change should be easier. If there is a big difference in the quality or average of players on the team, then making moves becomes much more complicated. That is usually more evident on Ladies teams and Mixed teams where there can be a greater average differential.
The dynamic on Mixed teams has really changed since going from 7 players to 6 players.
When there were 7 members on a Mixed team, coaches usually played 3 guys and 2 girls with 1guy and 1 girl on the bench. Teams would usually set the lineup this way, unless they had very strong girls in which case they would occasionally start 3 girls and 2 guys, leaving 2 men on the bench. As long as there were always 2 or more women in the game, you could sub any way you wanted. Teams starting 3 guys and 2 girls would usually sub a guy for a guy and a girl for a girl. In an extreme case of strategy, if a team had some points wrapped up and wanted to "steal" another match, you could sub a weaker girl for a guy very late in a game that had a certain outcome, and then have the remaining guy try to steal the other match. And ladies, before you get offended, I am being "very" general with the "guys" and "girls" that I'm using as examples. Keep in mind that in most of these cases I'm referring to teams where the guys are 240+ and the lower girls on the Mixed teams are about 200.
In the current Mixed format with 3 guys and 3 girls, the coaching decisions are much tougher. Communication with the team before the event can be vital. In many cases coaches are faced with the conundrum of deciding how badly a 240-250 average player has to be struggling to pull them, if the bench player is around 200 in average. Especially if totals are close and the 4th or 5th player in the order suddenly falls apart late in the game! It's a tough call.
Be sure to keep in mind, that The Open at any level is a very long event, so a player's role and position can change drastically from the first game to the last.
While the proper utilization and effectiveness of the bench can energize a team, a weak or misused bench can also kill a team.
Personally, I strongly advocate being proactive when communicating with the sub and making changes. While you want to have confidence in your starters, I think that many coaches wait far too long before making a move. Of course, there are many factors that go into a coach's decision to pull the trigger. You must consider totals, matches, experience, whether someone is in a funk or simply needs to adjust, reputation, how long the sub's been sitting, etc.
As a general rule, I think moves (if necessary) should be made by the 5th or 6th frame at the latest, unless someone who started well goes completely south, or the team needs a momentum swing.
Often times, a coach will wait too long to make a move and then get "strung" along. Here's an example; let's say that four players on the team are playing well and one person is struggling, but that person's opponent is also struggling. The player picks a Head-pin in the 4th and the coach lets him finish the frame. It's the fifth frame and the coach is waffling. His player trickles the headpin and leaves the corner, but misses the spare. What to do? He decides to leave the player in, citing the fact that they're hitting the headpin. In the sixth frame, the player "just" misses the headpin on the first ball, the coach gives them a "stay-in shot" at the spare, but the player gets tapped and leaves the corner. Meanwhile, the opponent has either found his shot or, even worse, the opposition has pulled the player and "their" sub has come on strong to give the team a boost. A huge swing in momentum has taken place and when the coach does make a move, it's 2 frames more and 10 minutes longer that the sub has been sitting without throwing a ball.
I realize that this is an "example", but it's amazing how often it happens.
Another common error I see, is when a team has two or more people struggling, the coach waits too long to make a move because they can't decide which person to pull. In this case there's no wrong move- you've got to do something!
I think you can see by now why the Men's team I coached a few years ago called me "Captain Hook"!
Here are a few more reasons why I believe in being proactive in using your bench:
1) People play better when they don't sit too long. (Also, if you haven't used your sub the entire game, take advantage of any meaningless 10th frame shots to get a couple of practice balls in.) Depending on when they last threw, if your move is too late in the game, your sub will have more pressure and will be less "loose". Also, the longer they wait when the chance is there to make a move, the less confident they'll be after wondering "why the coach won't put them in".
2) A move can also give the rest of the team a "kick in the arse"! If you have a few people struggling, they will be looking over their shoulder wondering if they'll get the hook. Once the move is made and people know they're finishing the game, the culture shock can be healthy. In the "same boat", try to keep your sub in the loop so they have an idea of what you the coach, are thinking. This can help them prepare and be ready when called upon.
3) Get "MO" on your side. Nothing changes the tide in a match as quickly as someone coming off the bench to throw a strike- Don't let your opponents beat you to it!
People think I'm crazy (Jeff did ask last week if I'd lost my mind) when I tell them that my favourite position is the "bench". I enter the Open to win! It doesn't matter how much I play. I enjoy supporting my team without the mental and physical rigors of "that" many games. When I am called on, I look at it as a challenge with nothing to lose.
The bench position and its use have made the difference in helping teams to Championships. One of the great Metro Toronto teams of years passed saw Jim Swartzman come off of the bench to throw about 20 strikes in a row, over 3 games! How much do you think the rest of the team was able to freewheel, knowing that he could come in?
And when our Mixed Team won the Ontario Open to go to Winnipeg, the main reason was the unbelievable work of Lisa Groombridge and Ron Ryan coming in to "fill"!
And so, remember not to fret if you're not in the "starting five".
I hope this helps give you some perspective on the position, and also what might be going on in your coach's head. We know that the coaches in the bleachers will all be playing along!
Good luck everyone in our quest for the Open Nationals in B.C.!!