Here is one of my posts on the USBC Bowling Talk forum responding to a coach who was asking about how-to conduct a try-out at the high school level. When evaluating bowlers in a try-out process, you want to gauge a holistic picture of each bowler. I recommend that you evaluate the following: (1) physical game quality; (2) bowling skill; (3) commitment to bowling; and (4) fitness level.
CONDUCTING A BOWLING TRY-OUT: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION
JOE SLOWINSKI, USBC SILVER-LEVEL COACH, BJI TOP 100 COACH 2005 & 2006
When evaluating bowlers in a try-out process, you want to gauge a holistic picture of each bowler. I recommend that you evaluate the following: (1) physical game quality; (2) bowling skill; (3) commitment to bowling; and (4) fitness level.
Start with several days of bowling on multiple lane conditions and on different surfaces if possible. Do what you can. If you can have three days, five games daily, bowling on three conditions, then that will do. Have the bowlers collect data on their bowling. Ideally, you want to see pocket percentage, carry percentage, spare percentage (single and multiple pin conversion rates) and split leaves. You can also observe how each bowler plays the lane condition. With various patterns, you can determine the level of a bowler's knowledge of lane play. This will provide you as the coach with both an evaluation of the bowlers as well as data to develop an individual improvement plan. To find some challenging conditions, visit http://www.bowlingmembership.com/sportbowlingsite/lanemachine_index.asp These patterns will reveal the bowler's real ability and show you where they need the most one-on-one attention. Stay away from the bumper house conditions. By choosing a challenge, you are setting a standard of excellence from day one.
PHYSICAL GAME ASSESSMENT
During the bowling portion, you can evaluate the bowler's physical game strengths and liabilities such as timing, free swing, stance, foot placement, etc. In addition, if you can, try to gauge some of the characteristics of the bowler: speed consistency, rev rate, axis of rotation, etc. This will allow you to determine individual needs that can go into an individual improvement plan.
In regard to fitness, research has shown that fitness level is correlated positively to bowling performance especially in females. Start with three simple tests: (1) time to run 800 meters; (2) time to do 25 push-ups; (3) time to do 25 sit-ups. Bowling programs should include fitness training during the season as well. Once again, you are establishing high standards from day one. This will allow you to see who is fit, who is in okay shape and those who are not in shape.
Finally, you want to talk with each individual bowler during the try-out. Consider this an interview and evaluation of commitment. In addition, you will begin to develop a rapport with your bowlers from day one, an important component of high performing teams. What is their motivation for participating in bowling? What is their history in the sport? What are their goals? This will help you see a level of commitment to improvement and dedication to the sport. And, this will help you see who is a team player and who is participating for their own glory.
CLOSING THOUGHTSThe try-outs should not only measure who should be on the team. You are establishing the culture, expectations, routine, etc. Be sure to start with a warm-up stretch, team meeting and conclude with a cool-down stretch. Your commitment to the routine will make the transition to the team more smoothly. In addition, the try-out process provides you with data to develop individual improvement plans. Coach effectiveness literature has shown that coaches that focus on the individual improvement of skills rather than score will have a more productive season. Specifically, bowlers will feel more positively, learning and grow more and have a better rapport with their coach. So, begin with the data you collected from the try-outs. Sit down with each bowler and have them work on weaker areas during part of the training. This will aid you and the bowler in establishing concrete, practical and measurable improvement goals.