French coach Eric Couralt visits ITRC

Bowling’s global push to someday attain the Olympic spotlight has found an ally in French national bowling team head coach Eric Couralt.

In a whirlwind travel schedule that demonstrated Couralt’s tireless commitment to strengthening the Tenpin Bowling Association of France, Couralt recently visited the International Training and Research Center in Arlington, Texas, just days after attending the Brunswick Euro Challenge in Paris – and then promptly left town en route to the European Youth Championships.

“I am so impressed with his overall dedication to the sport and developing it further,” says USBC Director of International Relations Bill Hoffman.

If it seems to those who have worked with Couralt that the man never rests, there is a reason for that.

“For me the most enjoyable thing about coaching is that the job is never finished,” Couralt said during his stay in Arlington. “There are many goals to work toward.”

Couralt’s trip to the European Youth Championships in Paris reflects the one goal that he works most passionately to fulfill.

“I want to develop youth players, that is a big goal for me,” Couralt said. “That is the future of the sport in France, and youth bowlers are especially important to the sport’s Olympic goals.”

Couralt’s visit to the ITRC in Arlington was the follow-up to an invitation that the Tenpin Bowling Association of France extended to USBC coaches last year. The invitation reflected both Couralt’s interest in helping his athletes develop more quickly as well as the visible support those athletes enjoy from the French Sports Federation.

“We invited USBC to come evaluate the situation in France,” Couralt explains, “and now the important thing for me is to work with coaches myself, because coaches improve players. We’re looking for USBC to help improve bowling education in France. I attended the Silver-level certification course in England and I came to Arlington to learn the philosophies behind USBC coaching and training programs.

“The training center is beautiful,” Couralt said about the ITRC. “It is a very professional complex, with many tools such as C.A.T.S., grip pressure, motion capture and other coaching technologies.”

It is already apparent that Couralt’s effort is paying off. French bowler Francois Sacco qualified third at the 2008 Men’s World Championships in Bangkok, and it took all-time PBA titlist Walter Ray Williams Jr. to end Sacco’s run in the semifinals. In the team portion of that same event, the French team shot a sensational 1,245 in game six, with scores of 248, 242, 234, 265 and 256.

More recently, the girls’ team gave a glimpse of the potential of youth talent in France at last week’s European Youth Championships (, finishing sixth in the Team event and only 35 pins out of a medal. Also, three of the girls finished in the top 25 for the all-events standings. One athlete in particular, Laurene Bouillier, showed the perseverance of a champion by rebounding from an opening game of 124 to come within seven pins of a medal.

Those feats offered a nice glimpse of the French team’s potential, but a mere glimpse is hardly enough to satisfy the coach who readily admits that his job “is never finished.”

“We’re getting better,” Couralt said, “but we have not reached our potential.”