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Top Tips - April 2012 - Training Regimen

I average 190, and have time to practice two days each week for about 90 minutes at a time. Could you suggest a training regimen for each practice session?

Ron Hatfield Answers...

Practice does not make perfect, but rather, permanent. Schedule a session with a certified coach to evaluate your physical game so you don’t reinforce any bad habits.

Start your sessions by turning off the scoring console. Practicing while scoring is rarely effective. Concentrate most of your practice on spare shooting, not strikes. It is mathematically possible to roll a 200 game with as few as two strikes and not roll one with as many as 10 strikes.

Begin by targeting 7 and 10 pins — hit them clean without knocking down any other pins. This will help increase your overall accuracy while conditioning your brain to get over the fear of throwing the ball in the channel. Practice rolling straight at the pin as well as cross lane. The next spare drill? Hit the 2-pin without hitting the head pin. Proceed to the 3-pin, then the 4-pin without hitting the 2, and so on through the rack.

To improve strike shooting, get out of your comfort zone and become comfortable with playing anywhere on the lane. Begin by aligning your feet on the first dot and rolling until you hit the pocket. Move to the next dot and repeat. In the next drill, target the first arrow and roll until you hit the pocket. Move the target an arrow at a time. Increase your reps at each session for both drills. What you do in practice is ultimately what you will do in regulation play.

Ron Caron Answers...

Even 180 minutes per week for practice may not seem like a lot, the important thing to remember is quality, not quantity. There are three important considerations to insure quality practices:
1. Practice the right things... the right way.
2. Have goals for each practice.
3. Change it up to always keep it fresh and different.

Find a certified coach who can help you identify any issues you have with your physical game, and let them instruct you how to do each one correctly. This will help you organize your practices and give you goals to achieve. Remember to work on only one skill at a time, and most important, don’t keep score. To keep your practices fresh, change the routine a little each time.

With a 190 average, the most important areas to improve are accuracy and spare-shooting. Work on your accuracy using two targets, one at the arrows, and one at the breakpoint. Two targets give you true accuracy. Spare shooting will always be the most important part of our game. Never stop practicing your improvement in this area.

Here’s a sample practice regimen you might consider following:
• 5 minutes — warm up (dynamic, static stretching)
• 15 minutes — physical skill #1 (timing)
• 15 minutes — physical skill #2 (swing direction)
• 15 minutes — physical skill #3 (finish position)
• 15 minutes — accuracy (using two targets)
• 15 minutes — spare shooting
• 10 minutes — bowl just for feel to end the practice

Ron Hatfield is a USBC Gold Coach who is Head Coach for Ukraine’s national bowling teams and also co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of He is a coaching consultant to Scotland, Lithuania, Moldova, Belarus, Spain and other countries.

A USBC Silver certified coach, Ron Caron has 12 years of coaching experience, all at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. He was named 2011 Indiana High School Bowling Coach of the Year by the Central Indiana Bowling Centers Assn., teaches youth and high school bowlers, and also offers private instruction.

Posted with permission from Luby Publishing Inc.