Sid Allen - Part III about the sport of bowling

Does Psychology play a massive part in sport and in bowling?

My answer may surprise many people. Although considered by some to be one of the mental coaches in bowling, I feel its impact is over-rated. Give a player good down the lane ball reaction, plus an area across the lane, which provides the player with steerability to the pocket and the players mindset is most often very conducive to high performance. Without ball reaction, all the mental strategies available will not overcome the bad ball reaction. Where the mental side prevails as an element of high performance, is through an understanding of the form of concentration which is required for bowling (external/narrow), mental rehearsal, arousal control, a fight or flight recovery plan and coping strategies that keep the player calm & patient when they are still problem solving the tactical equation of ball reaction/lane condition/equipment match-up etc. Of course, there are many more coping exercises such as breathing controls, strategies for paralysis through analysis victims and the granddaddy of them all, controlling perception of expectations & internal/external pressures imposed on the athlete.

If the player has a healthy attitude towards their sport and doesn’t wrap their self-worth into their results, then the athlete’s attention will be centered on a much healthier indicator such as performance & processes. All players at one time or another will fold under pressure, in sport it’s an occupational hazard, that’s why mental coping strategies must still be part of the athlete’s portfolio.

However, the less the player knows about mental aspects the better, the more knowledge the coach has the better. The coach should be able and willing to manipulate the players mental state to produce an environment of experiencing, while not feeling judged. The more the environment is positive, and process driven, the better. When I ask a player how their day went on the lanes I should expect two answers, one related to the result and one connected to the performance, e.g. “I felt like I bowled well but didn’t score well” OR “I scored really well but never felt comfortable with my game”. One is result oriented; the other performance based. Performance based athletes are mentally healthier and driven by healthier outcomes.


How do bowlers across the zones differ in terms of their work and training ethics?

Considerably! In Europe & American Zones, athletes work outside of their bowling experience, while in some countries in Asia they are full time athletes. Needs, such as buying bowling balls & travel expenses to competition, are taken care of as full-time athletes’, plus players have access to sport science teams (sports psychologists, nutritionist, biomechanics & physio’s), and often travel with these teams to official championships. The opportunity to concentrate solely on your sport, without the pressures of accommodating an everyday job is an obvious massive advantage. Many of these full-time athletes are paid monthly salaries, with the expectation that they commit full-time to strength & conditioning programs, daily training schedules, sports psych appointments & public relations assignments. Their day is full and regimented.

This gap between the have and have nots is getting greater every year.

In Asia, equal consideration & resources are distributed among the men. women & youth teams, which unfortunately is not the case in most countries in the other zones. This is reflected in the results Asia has produced consistently in women & youth world championships over the last decade or so. Money, within the federations is often scarce, in countries where government agencies do not or moderately support bowling, the men usually receive the higher percentage of available funds.


It seems a simple question to ask but What makes a good coach?

There are many types of coaches, instructors, competition coaches, mentors etc. Additionally, there are many different coaching personalities, the favorite teacher, the headmaster, the players’ coach and the disciplinarian just to name a few. This variation in coaching styles attempts to match-up with the various player personalities. Even how coaches use their brain, provides communication breakdowns or poor connections with their players. A right hemisphere dominant coach may seem to be talking in a foreign language to a left-brain dominant player. Further, players are either dominant auditory, kinaesthetic or visual in their communication language, a coach speaking in a visual language will not communicate directly with a kinaesthetic (feel) player. A coach’s ability to communicate is paramount to producing results, so it’s kind of different strokes for different folks’ mentality. Good coaches are able to change their preferred language to that of the athlete, so as to open the communication corridor.

My personal choice of what makes for a good coach, I look first at whether the player’s welfare is important to the coach, does he/she have empathy. Passion is vital to be able to deal with the long hours that coaches endure, coaches do not survive if they consider coaching a job and are able to leave it behind as they leave the bowling center. The worse coaches are the 5-minute coaches, this coach explains a drill to his pupils and then stands at the back of the lane, periodically looking at the clock, complaining internally on how slow the time is moving during this session.

Einstein said, “Information is not knowledge, the only source of knowledge is experience”. Information does not make a good coach; application of the information is the avenue to enlightenment & self-development. Maintaining a quest for knowledge is a pre-requisite for all teachers, once you think you know, they are on the road to obsolescence. 

Our wonderful game evolves constantly, the environment changes and with-it technique. Those coaches that are always driving for more knowledge are invaluable to the fraternity and to the industry at large.  


Experience over the years brings us to today and what you know now. Besides this experience where do people to go to learn more about coaching and which coaches work did you read in the early days?

Every coach has a mentor, for me it was Tom Kouros. Kouros wrote Par Bowling considered the bible of bowling during it’s early days of publication. I think there were four icons of those pioneer days, Tom Kouros for Par Bowling, Dick Ritger as the first author of youth development structures, Fred Borden for organizing our thoughts & Bill Taylor for writing the most important book on ball drilling. These four men cut through the jungle for others to follow their trail.

Now we have some wonderful opportunities through internet & academies of learning, to absorb at a much faster rate than ever before. Kegel training center, USBC training center, European School in Finland, Singapore Bowling Federation which has just this year opened its certification program & information to all countries to participate and many other centers of excellence around the world that are providing places of higher learning for all to study.

The industries bowling ball companies such as Storm have spent millions on clinics around the world to enlighten bowlers on the latest technical information. Specto has transformed research capabilities, and now combined with lane projections, bowling’s world of knowledge is about to be examined & expanded significantly.


How do the new technologies in bowling play into your coaching methods? For all the new gadgets and ideas is one of the best ways to improve just get on the lanes and practice?

Practice alone is no longer enough to reach the elite level. Tactical knowledge now is such that not matching technique, alignment, release, ball speed, equipment, ball surface, lane play, recognizing lane transition, lane pattern breakdown, carrydown or topography will cost you winning a competition. All the components of the tactical equation must be addressed competently, or someone will solve the equation and reap the rewards. It puts pressure on players & coaches alike. Countries now are composing teams of experts to achieve competency; no coach can live long enough to master all that’s required. One must be satisfied with being masters in one or two of the components and have a generic understanding of the rest, thus, teams of coaches are being assembled, with different expertise to provide support for even the most knowledgeable players.

Forming a network of mentors now is a necessity for success. Among the best minds in bowling it is commonly understood, no one knows it all, those that pretend, are easily found out once they speak freely with any given expert in any of the modules. 


Advice time and what has been the best advice given to you and which things told to you at a younger age have proved true?

I would rather just give some advice of my own if you would allow me that privilege.

When the athlete wins an event and finds themselves standing at the top of the podium wearing a gold medal proudly around their neck, think of this, “if it was 15 minutes later or a day earlier, that the event was held, would they still have won”. If they are wise, you will realize they would likely not have won.

So as they look upon the competitors they now stand before, they are faced with two pathways on which to choose; a) I can read my own headlines and think how great am I, how much I deserve this award, how history will record this moment OR b) I have been given a gift and how humble I feel at this moment to stand here in front of my peers, how grateful I am to this sport for what it has done for me today and every day, teaching me that hard work is the pathway & process to success.

That is the choice for every one of us that has felt & experienced such a moment.


What decision did you take?

It’s not too late to understand the true lesson of humility, thankfulness and the art of giving back.

Finally, the primary sports of mankind were throwing, lifting, running, jumping. The secondary sports of mankind include; standing an object upright, throwing at it and keeping score. That is the primitive reason behind why bowling belongs in the Olympics!

It was one of, if not the first, secondary sport mankind discovered, it lends itself to competition, whether at an office gathering, Tuesday night mixed league or at an international event, it’s the ultimate lazy man’s game, the skittles are reset for us, the ball comes back on its own, the computer keeps score for us and for that reason bowling will always flourish and reinvent itself, a hundred million bowlers worldwide cannot all be wrong.




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Interview by Dom Gall

Dominic Gall is a former bowler and founder and content manager for since its birth in 2006.

He has reported, Interviewed and Live Streamed many tournaments Worldwide and in 2013 formed the UK

Tenpin Hall of Fame. Collaborating with QubicaAMF on the World Cup since 2015.

"To be a part of the history in a small way is something special."



QubicaAMF is the largest and most innovative bowling equipment provider in the world with 600 employees worldwide. We build and modernize more bowling entertainment centers than any other company in the industry and have an installed base of more than 10,000 centers in 90 countries. The company has a sales and distribution network with worldwide reach and maintains the largest R&D team for electro-mechanical products, software, electronics, and entertainment systems in the industry.

QubicaAMF has over 100 years of experience and can provide the perfect combination of bowling equipment, products, and services for new or existing bowling entertainment centers, FECs, Cinemas, or any other facility in the hospitality, retail, or restaurant industry. Our ongoing mission is Making Bowling Amazing. We are convinced that bowling has so much more potential to attract and entertain even more people. With our products, we will help our customers fully unleash that potential.

The company has U.S. headquarters in Richmond, Virginia and European headquarters in Bologna, Italy.