I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 2 Director of College Bowling of Lewis University, Scott Taylor.
Coach Scott Taylor is the inaugural coach for the Lewis University Men’s and Women’s Bowling team. Lewis is one of many athletic departments adding college bowling. Their first season will be 2018-2019. Coach Taylor is no stranger to the Bowling community or Lewis where he is a 2007 grad.
Welcome to Interview #108
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen?
The best thing high school athletes can do is to submit a prospective high school athlete form to college coaches to help the coach get to know the player and their history better. An email works as well, but it needs to include things such as averages and highlights to determine if the coach wants to continue to recruit the athlete. A video is strongly recommended as well.
In a competitive landscape, it is good to be proactive. It shows the coach that you are willing to put in the extra time and that you are interested in the school.
Recruiting for college bowling is all about scores, right? Or is there more to it?
If only it were that easy right? Scores can be a nice baseline, but there is so much more to it than that. The first question is what kind of shot were those scores on? A typical “house pattern” or a “sport pattern” or somewhere in between? The difference between a house pattern and a sport pattern can be around 30 pins in many cases, so you have to know what you are looking at, and a lot of times it is hard to tell or you have to assume based on other scores. But if someone is consistently beating their competition, it doesn’t really matter what kind of pattern they are bowling on, they are probably pretty good.
How many college bowling teams are there?
That list continues to grow and grow. This year there were 172 men’s teams who competed with the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) and 142 women’s teams. There were 81 NCAA women’s teams, with some of those teams overlapping with the USBC. I know of around a dozen more schools adding programs for the fall, including Lewis.
Where do college bowling coaches go to recruit?
Just about anywhere there is a bowling tournament. The biggest tournament of the year is Jr. Gold, which rotates locations every year and is in Dallas this year in July. There are dozens of coaches who attend this two-week tournament that also has a collegiate expo and coaching clinics.
Then there are traveling tours and different expos across the country where coaches watch and meet bowlers. There also is high school bowling as well that many states now have where you can recruit talented bowlers.
How does the attitude and character of a prospective college athlete affect your decisions about recruiting an individual?
It means a great deal. As much as bowling is considered an individual sport, it is still a team sport at the collegiate level. How you act has a direct impact to how the team bowls as a whole. I’ve seen great teams never live up to expectations because they could never come together as a team, so they were never able to bowl their best individually. I always watch for positive attitudes, especially when a bowler is struggling. If you get down on yourself and the team spends more time picking you up then focusing on their own game, it can cost the whole team. I have drifted away from multiple bowlers due to attitude and or character issues that I noticed.
College tournaments are bowled on “Sport patterns” which is different from what most high school bowlers bowl on. Can you explain what this means?
When you go bowl for fun or in a league, chances are you are bowling on a house pattern. When you watch the professionals bowl on TV, they are bowling on sport patterns. College bowlers are bowling on similar patterns. A few high school tournaments have sport shots and some states are going to more of a combination pattern to make the adjustment to college less severe, while also making it more manageable for the newer bowler. Basically, the sport patterns give you less margin for error and make you hit your mark and release your ball with more precision than you need to with a house shot.
Tournaments can be chaotic and college coaches are not able to speak with everyone they would like to. How can a recruit who is interested in your school get you to watch them and speak to them?
In that initial email, sending them a season schedule would be helpful and perhaps you can set up a time to meet after a tournament. I’ve had friends and family come up to me as well to see if I would watch someone bowl at a tournament. Also, if you want to talk to a coach bad enough, stick around and wait for them to be available.
What kind of scores should men and women bowlers be getting to have be recruited at the following levels? NCAA D1, D2, D3, NAIA, Community Colleges?
The talent gap in bowling really isn’t as large as it is for other sports as I’ve seen some great bowlers go the NAIA route and some bowlers with lower averages go D-1. Men are just club bowlers, but on house patterns, if you average a 200, you should be able to bowl somewhere collegiately and in many cases get a scholarship. For the women, typically a 185 house shot average and above can get you to the next level, a 190 for sure. Sometimes you just have to know where to look. There are plenty of colleges looking to fill rosters. A high-tier program will probably be recruiting mostly over 200, but they will be looking primarily for girls who average in the 180s and 190s on a sport pattern.
What are the yearly expectations in and out of season for a college bowler?
Just like any other sport, bowling should be a year-round sport. It is easy to get rusty with missed time. In season programs are practicing most days with the exception of the mandatory one or two days off a week. Many times bowlers will still bowl on their own those days. Out of season, especially the summer, is a prime time to work with a personal coach to take your game to the next level for the next year of college. I’ve seen top collegiate bowlers in the alley every day, although at least three days of week should be a minimum. The nice thing about bowling is you can compete in another sport and still find time to bowl an hour here and there.
How much coaching instruction is involved for collegiate bowlers? What is daily training consist of?
That probably varies by the coach, but I’m a firm believe that the majority of the work needs to be done in the off season. Coaches have limited time and large rosters to make drastic changes during a season. For me, it is all about tweaking things to help make the most of your style. The mental aspect of bowling is the biggest part and there is a lot of instruction on this part as well. Training includes stretching, drills and some sort of competition each day. There is also weight lifting separate from practice, as well as film study.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or bowlers in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
The biggest thing I can say is to do your research. From roster size to quality of schooling, find what is important to you and then choose your school off of that. Be aware of all of the schools that have or are adding bowling.
To learn more about Coach Scott Taylor go to Lewis University Bowling.
Next, check out: What Never to Say to a College Coach (If You Want to Get Recruited)
LIKE WHAT YOU READ?
Please take a moment to share this on social media to benefit other prospective college athletes, by clicking on the “sharing is caring” buttons below.
P.S. Come join our Facebook group, The Recruiting Code. This is the place to be for parents and coaches to talk about college recruiting. Come learn from each other, share stories and get information that will help your child become a college athlete.