While participants said they were able to learn more about their games, coaches attending the first Bowling Combine for College Prospects at the International Training and Research Center said they enjoyed the chance to evaluate many players in one location.
More than 70 youth bowlers took part in the two-day program that concluded Thursday. They were put through tests that measured sport-specific skills and overall athleticism, including vertical leap and balance tests. They also took the "It Factor" test which looked at their bowling IQs and problem-solving abilities.
"The 'It Factor' test was really interesting," said Ashleigh Calcote, 17, of Houston. "And the balance stations were a lot tougher than I was expecting."
Sport-specific tests included spare shooting, release and speed ranges, and shot repeatability. Players rotated through five stations during spare shooting, and had the chance to throw at least 15 shots to convert each spare as many times as possible.
"I didn't like the washouts very much, and I'm pretty sure a lot of people would agree with me," said Sean Sadat, 19, of Houston. "I definitely learned I need to work on a few things."
Each athlete received a ranking called the Performance Evaluation Test or P.E.T. score at the end of the combine. The test score, an objective view of their overall abilities in key components necessary for success, can be compared against the bowlers at this and future combines.
Nearly 20 college coaches also attended the combine.
Mike LoPresti, who has led Fairleigh Dickinson University to two national titles, said his first interest when looking at potential players for his program is a strong academic background - honor students who happen to bowl.
"Any opportunity we have to rank and watch prospects is a place we need to go," LoPresti said. "This brings a lot of interested candidates to one place. This is a great opportunity for any coach, to have somebody evaluate players for them. Then all we have to do is put the pieces together."
Del Warren, an assistant coach with Webber International, said events such as the United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold Championships are great events, but to evaluate the athletes is difficult because there are more than 1,600 participants, and the kids are focused on the tournament.
"We have busy lives, and it's pretty efficient to get a lot of bowlers in one area where you can evaluate them," Warren said. "Here, it's a little more relaxed, and a little more focused."
Warren also said the bowling industry is trying new things, and they want to support programs such as the Bowling Combine.
"We want to see what we can learn and then give these guys feedback on how to make it better next year," Warren said.
Team USA assistant coach Bryan O'Keefe was the program director for the combine that featured the ITRC staff of Team USA head coach Rod Ross, Team USA assistant head coach Kim Terrell-Kearney and USBC Sports Performance Specialist Nick Bohanan.
Go to BOWL.com/combine to learn more about the Bowling Combine.
On Friday, the National Tenpin Coaches Association (NTCA) will hold its national convention at the ITRC. The NTCA coaches will have the chance to learn from the ITRC staff during the three-day convention.
The ITRC, located at the International Bowling Campus, has 14 lanes dedicated to training and state-of-the-art technology including biomechanical motion tracking, DigiTrax(tm) ball motion technology, video analysis and much more.