Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mark Baker's Coaching Philosophy

Mark Baker was a pretty good bowler in his day. He won four PBA Tour titles, 6 PBA regional titles, led the PBA Tour in average in 1985, and finished second to Marshall Holman in the Firestone TOC in 1986. But he may be an even better bowling coach. He is one of the most respected coaches in the game and works with bowlers at all skill levels from the Tour elite on down.

He has just started blogging on the PBA website, and he posted a very good entry recently about his coaching philosophy. Here is some of what he writes:

"Every bowler throws a good shot now and then, relative to his or her skill level. But what's the one thing most bowlers don't want to do? Change! I hear it all the time. I want to raise my average, increase my rev rate, have better balance, I want to throw it better, but I don't really want to change my game." Well, guess what? That's pretty much exactly what I try to do as a coach. That is, changing a bowler's game without them feeling that they are being changed."

Baker goes on to write about a misconception that many bowlers have about the mistakes they make and how he deals with it:

"The hardest part for me is when the feedback I get from a bowler comes in the "I pulled it" or "I elbowed it," variety, which is basically just a bunch of baloney about the release which, in reality, is more a byproduct of something that went wrong somewhere in the approach way before that. It's simple cause and effect. The bad release is the effect and once you find the cause and fix it, a miracle happens. The bowler has the "A-HA" moment. Now you have something, because once a bowler knows what he does (and what it feels like) when he throws his best shots, and can then start to tell me why he missed in a larger (and sometimes, like Barnes, more mechanical) vocabulary. At that point, the improvement is immediate."

This is a really good article that coaches, aspiring coaches, and those who are contemplating receiving coaching should read. And let's hope Mark Baker keeps blogging.

You can read Mark Baker's entire blogpost here, check out his official website here, and watch his 1986 Firestone TOC championship match with Marshall Holman and a coaching video with Walter Ray Williams Jr. below.

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