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Developing that Coaching Eye

Posted: November 22nd, 2013, 8:06 pm
by TrashHeap
To all you experience coaches.

What are some of things that have helped you to get that "coaching eye".

Anything particular that was more difficult to master. Areas you struggled the most on.

Re: Developing that Coaching Eye

Posted: November 25th, 2013, 3:18 pm
by JMerrell
So what is a "coaching eye"?

My interpretation means that you are capable of observing an athlete and utilizing cause and effect. And most importantly having the knowledge to know which item to change that will have the quickest impact on player improvement.

As a toddler you learned to take a couple of steps, fall down and get up and do it again. You developed balance and attempted to walk faster eventually learning to run.

You cannot read a book or acquire someone’s master plan and go out and start coaching the highest level athletes tomorrow. Part of developing a coaches eye is spending a lot of the time
studying the physical game and identifying common elements of successful athletes.

Giving some free lessons when you start out is a great way to understand what works and what doesn’t. No two students learn in the same way, that’s why must books don’t work.

Today, more than ever the cycle of learning can be shortened by using social media.

1. YTD video downloader is free and can be used to down load video from youtube. Create a
folder and down load tons of video.
2. Down load Kinovea its free and can be used to analyze video in slow motion and frame by
3. Spend every available moment looking at video and creating a reference library. You can use
the print screen option key on your keyboard to save any image you deem as important to your
4. In the coaching section in the WIKI many common items have already been identified. Yes,
reading is part of the learning process.
5. Attend any/all bowling seminars, in particular anything offered by Mo.
6. Learn to keep your ears open and your mouth shut. I find it’s easier to learn when I’m not
trying to influence others with my knowledge; but keeping my mind open.
7. The release is by far the most single element to master. I could charge a $1000.00 an hour, but
never teach you how to throw the ball like Michael Fagan. But, I can teach you how to
maximize what you bring to the table.
8. One of things that you will struggle with in the beginning is being comfortable with people. I
came from an engineering background, not a public speaking background.
9. How and what you communicate is part of becoming comfortable with who you are and what
you are trying to achieve.
10. Last but not least…never lie. If you don’t know the answer to a student’s question be honest
with them, but explain that you will follow up and get them an explanation….build

I will finish with a short story.
Many years at BTM Super School after a presenting a seminar, I told the students that I hoped they all had fun and learned something during the next three days because I would. During a break that day, one of the collegiate students came to me and explained that she was worried.
I asked why and she replied, “She thought that all the instructors at Super School knew everything.”

I smiled and explained that firstly I was speaking for myself, maybe the rest of the instructors feel that they do know everything. But that my experience has taught me that we all learn differently and having the opportunity to spend time with each of them would provide me with an educational opportunity as well. I went on to explain to her that she would improve that week or be entitled to her money back. At week’s end she didn’t ask for her money back and went on to having a successful college career.

There is your start…develop a coaching philosophy and never waiver from it under pressure.

“Simplify the Motion…Maximize the Results”

Re: Developing that Coaching Eye

Posted: November 27th, 2013, 2:31 am
by kajmk
Excellent information and advice from a master teacher.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Re: Developing that Coaching Eye

Posted: November 28th, 2013, 6:59 am
by guruU2
Coach Merrell has it down.

Be open minded. Study everyone credible. Do compare and contrast. Be open minded. Pay attention. Teach. Think about the experience. Be open minded. Repeat the process. Develop your own perspective. Be open minded. Repeat the process. You will develop your authentic perspective.

Enjoy the holidays.

Re: Developing that Coaching Eye

Posted: November 29th, 2013, 6:49 pm
by kellytehuna
As someone learning the ropes of coaching, I was given the opportunity to help coach a clinic put on by Rick Hitt in Newport, KY last summer. I had previously received some coaching from Mo Pinel and Rick Hitt and I had the privilege of watching Jim Merrell as he coached a good friend of mine just a month or two prior to the camp, so I've had the good fortune to watch several good coaches in action.

This camp was probably just as educational for me as it was when I attended it just 2 years before as a bowler wishing to improve his average. I got to watch several quality coaches up close, but I also had them to fall back on and discuss my thoughts and plan of attack based on what I was seeing. I got to confer with them and see if they were seeing the same thing. Nine times out of ten, they agreed with my assessment and made minor changes to what I thought we needed to do to nudge the players in the right direction.

As it turns out, I happen to coach High School Volleyball as well. It turns out principles of coaching transcend the differences in the codes. Bowling and Volleyball couldn't be more physically different. However, the key is learning what efficient motion looks like, learn how to communicate that with the players and getting them to trust that you know what you're doing. Without trust, they simply won't buy into what your teaching and won't commit to any changes you're trying to encourage.

Like everything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Reflect on each lesson and try to garner as much information from it as you can. What you learn from the early lessons will inform the lessons to come. :D

Finally, make good use of the coaching resources available here. We have unprecedented access to several world class coaches here. Learn from them. I know I have!

Re: Developing that Coaching Eye

Posted: December 2nd, 2013, 1:48 pm
by deanchamp
TrashHeap wrote:To all you experienced coaches.

What are some of things that have helped you to get that "coaching eye".

Anything particular that was more difficult to master. Areas you struggled the most on.

Addressing the first question, I think you really need to know what you are looking for otherwise you would never be able to find it. As a coach you need to know every aspect of bowling technique to be able to identify where a student could improve or make positive changes. And how do you get that knowledge? You read every available coaching book and article you can find and watch as many coaching videos and DVDs and YouTube vids as you can, and then spend countless hours watching the pros do their thing from the last 50 years. There are no short cuts here. The only way to get experience with the ‘coaching eye’ is to use that eye to analyse as many different bowling styles as you can, from as many different eras as you can. They all have some relevance and they all can contribute to you having the knowledge to help bowlers move closer towards obtaining a solid technique. The amazing thing about doing this in 2013 is the amount of info out there. You only have to go back 10 years and it was slim pickings on books and videos and the net and YouTube. But these days, you would not have enough hours left to watch or read everything available to you with the click of a mouse. Just an incredible growth in information.

EVERY bowler is different. Maybe more so than any other sport, the professional bowlers all have variations with how they generate the speed and revs and rotation and tilt on a bowling ball. But when you break them down to the fundamentals, the top bowlers are all doing similar things. From Eugene McCune to Pete Weber to Jason Belmonte, there are similarities. And being able to spot these similarities and understand the differences is the starting point to obtaining the coaching eye. Watch and watch and analyse and dissect. Discuss it with other knowledgeable bowlers and coaches. Discuss your ideas on this and other forums. Ask questions and see what answers you get. Be hungry for knowledge and keep an open mind.

- One notable thing amongst bowling coaches that I find frustrating is that they are usually unwilling to acknowledge someone else’s discovery or ideas. There seems to be too much ego at play with the top coaches, which leads to each coach needing his or her own terminology to describe the same phenomena. I refuse to use Slowinski’s jargon therefore I’ll use different words to say the same thing. I won’t reference Mark Baker’s timing spot so I’ll find another spot slightly earlier. I do wish coaches would just get over it and become unified for the betterment of the sport as a whole and to educate the next generation of bowlers with the same theories and vocabulary. Anyway, that’s what I’m willing to do and I have no issue with giving credit where credit is due. I didn’t invent the game and I sure as hell only know what I know due to the coaching pioneers who took the time and effort to understand the sport from an objective POV.

The 'coaching eye' is only one aspect of the coaching process though. A good coach also has to be a very good communicator. It is no good seeing something and then not being able to pass on the information to the student effectively and in a way they can understand it to implement the suggested changes. I've been a teacher since I was 25, and this has helped immensely with communicating my ideas to those I coach. I've also had a lot of variety in my teaching, as I've taught at primary schools, high schools, special schools, University and worked with gifted children. All this experience has been great for my coaching as I have learnt that each individual is different with their needs and personality and which teaching style is going to be most effective. Again, you only really get this with experience, so if you want to be a coach, start spending time with bowlers offering to train them and build up your experience. This face to face experience combined with being a student of the game will set you on the path to being a respected coach.

The most successful teachers and coaches also earn the respect from their students, and this usually arises when they trust you. If someone believes you can help them, then they will be willing to listen and try out your suggestions. As a coach I am still also a bowler who is working on his game, and I turn to the likes of Jim M and Patrick Birtig (in Melbourne) to help me, as I trust them and their knowledge (like I've said to Jim, coaching yourself is like being the driver and the car at the same time, so I like to get objective advice to improve). I also like to use the pro bowlers as a reference point visually, and bowlers like seeing this too, again, as they will trust you when you are showing them something tangible as a comparison to what they are doing.

I've also seen some very good bowlers as very poor coaches as they aren’t great at discussing ideas and only really know what they do well, which they use as a basis to teach. They are great at demonstrating using their own shot, but then expect the student to get up and do the same thing they do. This is not enough. And I've also seen these bowler-coaches mock or belittle or get frustrated with their students if they can’t learn what they are trying to teach them. Not very acceptable behaviour and needless to say they don’t coach for very long.

Back to the second question, there has been nothing I've found difficult to master as there are no deadlines, and using slow motion analysis lays it all out frame by frame to see. And once you know what you are looking for, it will all be there. Accumulate the knowledge and there will be no barriers to your growth as a coach.

Re: Developing that Coaching Eye

Posted: April 1st, 2015, 10:45 pm
by kajmk
I noticed this thread while searching the forum for something else.
I thought I'd bump these words of bowling wisdom up to the top.

Re: Developing that Coaching Eye

Posted: June 16th, 2015, 7:48 am
by river800
There is a load of information that is shared in this thread, would be hard to not see this. As a bowler and just starting to get into helping others, one of the biggest things that I have done is watch bowling videos of the pro's over n over n over while watching quite a few bowlers here at my center every week. From set up, to first/second step and ball push away to swing slot, sliding, knee continuation and follow through I have seen it from there (pba youtube videos). Though I have a long ways to go in my own game, one of the aspects that I have an advantage here at my local center in north Idaho is about bowling balls, layouts and surface prep. Not to get into specifics with a few people right now, I have taken some of what I have learned in the videos and watching people here at my center and helped at least two people so far connect something that two other proshop guys and some other person could not. The improvement was easily seen along with some understanding of what I had specifically talked about to these few people.

Not to put anyone on the spot, but I know one of the main reasons why bowling is dying is due to coaches/proshop owners having NO clue what they are doing. They toss around ideas like they change their clothes everyday, without understanding if it is correct or even needed. When we really get down to it, many bowlers want to get better/improve, but they don't see the opportunity so they bury it in the back of their minds somewhere and carry on. Then we have the bowlers who have the opportunity but don't take it/don't want to and spoil the sport for others who even listen to them. This is not really geared towards just the casual bowler that stands very little chance of becoming better. We all know every sport has these people which is fine, nothing wrong with doing a sport just to have fun. Though, you never know who might take the plunge if given enough time and talking to the right people.

It is one thing to tell people what they need to do, but another thing to present the idea and then go on to explain why the change is needed. Having the capability to explain something so a person gets it takes some time and is NOT learned over night. As one of the main things talked about in this thread, gaining as much experience through the different avenues is important to have a library to pull from, something that I am starting to dig into.

One thing that I would like to see more of is coaches having both sides of the coin down, the coaching side and about the equipment side of it. Something that is seriously lacking here locally. Something I hope to change somehow.

Re: Developing that Coaching Eye

Posted: June 17th, 2015, 2:09 pm
by crashin12x
I can't agree more with you guys.

I started coaching our youth almost 6 yrs ago and one of the reasons why I stumbled on this site in search of new ideas and techniques. Not being contented with what the manual has to say. Jim hit the nail right on its head when he said we have to keep on open mind. This is the first step in learning. Just like our own skills in bowling, having a coaches' eye demands countless hours reviewing high caliber bowlers comparing them to yours and finding the gaps in between in order for him/her to improve. We need to practice and hone that skill. NO short cuts.

We have to be open to technology as well and utilizing it in our own advantage and in due time we will be able to develop not only the "eye" but our own system of approach to various individuals of the sport.

So practice, practice and practice.