Monday, October 31, 2011

I’m a little bit late to the party here, as the season is now well under way but there has certainly been a lot of discussion about the game, whether it’s been about membership, tournaments, or the East-West challenge on CBC. There has also been much discussion focused on scoring conditions.

Scoring, and what can been done to improve or maximize it, is a topic all on it’s own and will be an ongoing and in-depth debate, as we want to see conditions fair and rewarding to the competitive players, but also want to ensure the game remains fun for kids, older players and the public bowlers. Remember, the more business proprietors can get from parties and public bowling, the more they should be able to invest back into the centre in terms of maintaining the lanes and equipment.

All of this being said, let’s focus on something positive. I believe that 5-Pin has the “perfect” number of perfect games.
Our game is constantly compared to the other bowling games out there, but in Duckpin perfect games are impossible. In 10-Pin, PBA pros have each thrown dozens of 300 games. In 5-Pin, 450 games are rare enough that a good portion of us are still looking for our first.

According to the C5 website, there have been 134 reported/sanctioned 450 games in the last ten years. The most in any recent season was 20 perfect games in 2006-07. The most recorded in any year was 29 in 1986-87. Again, these only included 450’s thrown in sanctioned league and tournament play. Keeping this in mind, many events do not apply for sanctioning and with provincial memberships on the decline, some leagues are opting out of affiliation. My personal rule-of-thumb as far as whether individuals should count their 450’s, is as long as it is played in a certified centre under normal league or tournament conditions using traditional scoring, you may count it. Witnesses, of course, sure help!

I wanted to see approximately what percentage of players out there has thrown a 450, so I checked our O5 Coaches Manual (still online at from last year. Even though some players enter false stats (don’t get me started on THAT), I assumed that the high games would be accurate, or at least people who had perfect games would enter them. I discovered that, of the 126 men on the Mens or Mixed teams, 23 of them had thrown a perfect game. Of the 126 women competing in the Ladies or Mixed divisions, 5 had thrown 450’s. In the Seniors division, 7 of the 65 competitors had listed a perfect game to their credit. Based on this sample, my “guesstimate” would have been pretty close, with 20-25% of tournament players (245 average and up) having thrown a perfect game.
So, for those who have thrown a 450, the challenge is still there to get another one. And for those of us who haven’t, the allure of achieving the 12th strike keeps us coming back.

So far this season I have heard about five 450 games, two of which came from the same tournament.

For Oshawa’s Christina Herbert, some of us were surprised to hear that she was even playing in the Pla-Mor Open on August 13th in Port Dalhousie, as she’d just given birth to her (and bowling husband Mike’s) second son Dylan a month earlier. Christina hadn’t played a tournament since May, and had only thrown a few balls earlier that week to try to adjust to “not having the beach ball belly” that she’d carried around for many months previously. With her previous high of 425 (10 in-a-row, chop-off), the thought of a 450 didn’t enter her mind until the 10th strike. This time, she didn’t stop at 10 and went on to join the elusive 450 club!
Not too long after Christina’s perfect game, and never the one to avoid the spotlight, Mitch Davies made it a double-header as he too threw a 450. A star in YBC, Mitch burst onto the adult scene and quickly made a name for himself with an incredible debut in the Masters and in the Open where he averaged over 290 to win Rookie of the Year and help lead (along with Jeff Young who averaged 304) the Hamilton men to a Provincial Championship. An extremely talented competitor, Mitch’s passion for the history, current state and future of the game cannot be questioned. As an example of his drive, when I asked where his 450 ranked personally, Mitch stated “I don’t rank this particularly high, as 450 is still one game. I’m definitely proud of it, but longevity and consistency is the key for this game and for my personal gratification”. Yeah, he might just throw another one sometime!

As one of the game’s young superstars, 18 year-old Jennifer Baker of Edmonton didn’t waste any time getting this season off to a great start by throwing a 450 in her first week of YBC. Prior to her perfect game, Jennifer already had an impressive resume in the sport with a previous high single of 420 and high triple of 964. Her highest ever league average is an impressive 259! Again, just 18, Jennifer has already won the Ladies City High Average twice. Her YBC career includes appearances at 6 Nationals, including a Bantam Girls Singles Silver and back-to-back National Singles titles in ’06 as a Junior and in ’07 as a first year Senior!! Jennifer has also competed in 3 Alberta Winter Games and has an incredible Youth Challenge record, qualifying 6 times for Provincials where she had tremendous team success as well as qualifying for 3 Youth Challenge Nationals. At the YC Nationals, Jennifer has twice won scholarships for making the All-Star Team. In fact, Jennifer has amassed a whopping $7500 through bowling to use toward her post secondary education! With great young stars such as Jennifer, the future of the sport is in good hands!

Just prior to forwarding this article to my boss two weeks ago, I heard of another 450 game. This one came from Barry Byrne from Dickson Bowl in Cambridge, Ontario. Incidentally, Barry threw the first 400 game of the season last year at Dickson. A relative newcomer to the Open qualifying experience, Barry just missed making it out of the powerhouse Tri-County zone at last year’s qualifying round. Certainly that experience, as well as confidence gained from his 450 will help propel Barry’s game to the next level.

And wouldn’t you know it, as I was about to post this once again, I heard through Fraser Hambly (who knows a bit about perfect games) that Andrew Speers had thrown 450 on Monday night at North Park Bowl in Toronto. I met Andrew several years ago when he was a student at our Bowling School and I was thrilled to hear the news, as he is a great young man with a tremendous attitude who works hard at his game and is always willing to learn!!
Once again, congratulations go out to the five newest members of the coveted 450 Club! The rest of us will keep trying.

*Just a note that we do have some other articles in the works including a look at the Bowling Schools around the country and some “23 Questions”. As always, we encourage feedback and ideas, as well as prospective “23 Questions” victims.
I can be reached here, via email at or on Facebook or Twitter @23barker
Take care, and enjoy the game you love!

Monday, October 24, 2011

For The Kids...

Well, the bowling season is definitely in full swing, and slowly I'm starting to get back to the task on here. One thing that I was able to participate in that I haven't played for a while was the Master/Youth tournament run yesterday. Having enjoyed the event yesterday, it made me disappointed that I haven't played these type of events enough.

I'm sure to any of those Master bowlers out there and parents as well, can relate to the fun and excitement of watching the youth bowlers play. Big smiles for strikes and spares and wild high fives are a common sight, and one that is refreshing for our game. It brings me back to one of the reasons why I enjoyed playing this game growing up. I've always liked the fact that your competitors were there to congratulate you and to give you support even if you were beating them. This is definitely shown in this tournament, since afterall, it IS all about the kids.

And with that notion, something that bothers me, and I've seen it on quite a few occasions, is having to watch the kids bowl without their Master bowler showing up. These kids are our future to the game, and every one of them deserves the same opportunity. Regardless of what event, association or league tournament, when it involves kids, I believe the extra mile needs to be exercised. I think that in order to make them love the game, you need to help them EXPERIENCE the game and show them whats out there. Depriving them of these experiences not only deprive them of playing a competitive event, it also deprives them of a childhood experience. Some of my fondest memories growing up were YBC tournaments, from the Master/Youth type events all the way to Family Twosome. I'm willing to bet that for every current Master bowler or competitive bowler, those same tournaments helped shape the player they are today. I think that if we want to keep our game strong and keep a strong young crop of bowlers joining the adult ranks, we have to let them experience all aspects of the game we love.....Even if that includes making some sacrifices yourself.

Jeff Young

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fighting the Aging Process

While bowling isn't an extremely physical sport, it will wear you down over the years. When I was younger (and I think many can say the same) I took for granted my health. Now, having just turned 32, things are very different.

I suffer from a strutural knee problem on my sliding leg, my elbow hurts and even causes my arm to fall asleep a lot, and my hip bothers me from time to time. After talking to a specialist, it was recommended that I spend time working out my quad muscles to help reduce the pain in my knee. This brings me to an important aspect that I think can really help a bowler's game.....working out.

I think it's important to understand that the repetative nature of bowling will slowly cause damage to your muscles and joints. I know a tonne of bowlers that no longer bowl due to injuries and pains. I think everyone needs to be proactive to protect yourself from your body breaking down.

Common problem areas for bowlers are knees, shoulders and backs. There are many different ways to build these areas, without spending a lot of time invested.

Legs: Start with something simple. A lot of work on your quad muscles can help in this area. Start with squats, without weights and work your way up to light weighted squats. Another good exercise is to do lunges, once again starting without weights then slowly working your way to what is called active lunges.

Shoulders: I think it's important not to overdo your shoulders. A lot of time people try to use too much weight when working out the shoulders. Simple overhead shoulder presses work well. Another great exercise is the shoulder fly. A few reps of these with light to moderate weight will get you feeling the burn in no time.

Back: The back is tricky due to the fect that you don't always feel the burn right away. Be careful not to overwork your back. Bent over rows and back extensions are my personal favourite back exercises.

It's important that even if you're younger and are in great shape, that you should really look at investing the time into doing some light exercises to avoid problems down the road. I've already seen too many great bowlers hampered by problems, which have reduced their bowling abilities and desire and especially with the large increase in hard throwers in our game. Problems will arise down the road and now is the time to prevent those problems when you get older.

Jeff Young

Monday, October 3, 2011

I was recently talking to my friend Brian Whalen in a car ride from Washington to our hotel in Baltimore when we were in the States for a duckpin tournament when of course, we got talking about bowling balls. I’ve never been much of an equipment type of guy (those who know me know that I’ve used the same bowling balls for half my life) but I have noticed something with our bowling ball manufacturers that bothers me. While I think that there are a lot of great options out there now for 5pin bowlers in terms of bowling balls, I think there is something seriously missing.

When I flip through catalogues for 10pin bowling balls, then look at 5pin bowling ball catalogues I see a missed opportunity for our sport. Bowling ball manufacturers in the sport of 10pin create “teams” for their products. They take a group of elite players and use their faces to promote their products and in turn, promote the stars of their game. While the sport of 5pin doesn’t have the profile that 10pin has, there’s no reason why our manufacturers can’t do something similar. There are a ton of great players through out the country that could be used to help promote bowling equipment and could be better utilized to put faces in our game. I’m surprised that there have not been any manufacturers that have gone this route, taking a few players that have found success in our game to help sell their brands. In my mind, it’s a win-win situation. I think our game needs to raise the profile of our bigger names in bowling, giving bowlers across the country the opportunity to put faces to names, while at the same time, find out what products they use to achieve their success. I think that our sport lacks the personal attachment of our equipment, and those that use it.

I know that watching TV or flipping through a magazine, I am constantly seeing prominent figures in sports, that are promoting the products they use to the world. 5pin should be no different. I realize that our scale is much smaller on a whole, but we need to start somewhere. We need to start putting our faces of the game out there for people to see, and to try to raise the profile our game one step at a time. It works well for the other sports, so why can’t we make use of the same idea? Why can't we take those faces we saw on CBC recently and use them to market our products back to our players? They've already been watched, and identified by thousands of people across the country. Taking those identities, and using them to back a certain product gives the manufacturer puts a face to the brand, and more than likely will make it more relative to the sport.

I think that to date, this is a missed opportunity for our sport, our stars and our everyday players. However, I think that with a little bit of effort, the manufacturers for 5pin bowling balls can really make a splash with our community, putting some faces out there and more than likely, selling a whole whack of bowling balls in the process.

Jeff Young