Lane maintenance expert Len Nicholson impacted Bowling



    Veteran bowling industry figure opens coaching/pro shop summit

    2003IFGLennyNicholson.jpg Without rolling a ball, this bowling legend had a major impact on the careers of many of the greatest professional bowlers in history and the sport itself.

    Len Nicholson, who worked behind the scenes creating the lane conditions in tournaments on which pros like Earl Anthony, Mark Roth, Johnny Petraglia and others made their living in the 1970s, shared some of his insight from 50 years of industry experience in his June 25 keynote address to open the International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association Educational Conference and Bowling Coaches Summit at the Texas Station Hotel.

    Sponsored by United States Bowling Congress Coaching, IBPSIA, USBC Collegiate and USBC High School, the event includes a host of informative and exciting seminars and workshops for adult, youth, high school and collegiate coaches, pro shop personnel, bowling ball manufacturing representatives and center proprietors and runs through June 27. The summit is being held in conjunction with International Bowl Expo 2006 June 28-30 at the Las Vegas Hilton.

    The creator of the Professional Bowlers Association Tour lane maintenance program in 1971, Nicholson has been involved with conditioning lanes in more than 800 pro tournaments. As the PBA's lane maintenance director in the 1970s, Nicholson helped advance the sport of bowling through lessons learned about lane surfaces and lane conditioning techniques, such as the importance of lane topography and improving on primitive devices to apply conditioner, or oil, such as towels and spray guns.

    "Thankfully today there's a lot more knowledge," said Nicholson, who as "The Phantom" hosts a weekly Internet radio talk show and who brought his knowledge to The Kegel Company, a Florida-based company that makes sophisticated lane conditioning equipment and operates a world class coaching and training center. "Lanes have certain characteristics. Lane conditions are the most controversial aspect in the sport. What bowlers want is consistency from week to week."

    Nicholson spoke of how bowling needs knowledgeable and professional coaches and pro shop operators. Coaches must be great motivators, portray a positive mental attitude to students, be disciplinarians and set realistic goals for students.

    New coaches trained
    USBC Coaching trained 165 coaches in certification and skill drills courses this week. There were 131 students who took the Level I, Bronze and Silver certification courses through USBC Coaching and 34 students who trained in the first Athlete Development Drills class, said Director of USBC Coaching Bob Maki.

    That group included 10 students from Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Malaysia.

    Biboy_Rivera_4700.jpg "The development of youth players is important," said Biboy Rivera (pictured), a member of the Philippines national bowling team who went through the USBC Coaching Level I class in Las Vegas this week. "We want to train young bowlers to become future national team members."

    Maki also updated the group about the revised USBC Gold certification program that has a new validation process, as well as the USBC Coaches Association's personal Web page feature and the continued progress on USBC's Registered Volunteer Program that will require youth volunteers to go through background checks.

    USBC High School and USBC Collegiate update
    Director of USBC High School and USBC Collegiate Jeanne Klescewski reported that 18 states now offer high school bowling at the varsity level, while 20 offer the sport at a club level.

    This is the first year USBC is providing scholarships to high school student-athletes. Five boys and five girls from high schools nationwide were recently selected to the inaugural Dexter/USBC High School All-American Team. Selections were based on high school bowling accomplishments, community involvement and academic success in the 2005-06 school year. Each team member receives a $1,000 scholarship. A total of 147 institutions offer collegiate bowling, Klescewski said.

    USBC High School has registered 10,000 bowlers through the online membership program. USBC Collegiate is developing an online membership program.

    BPAA update
    2006BPAAJohnBerglund_small.jpg John Berglund, Bowling Proprietors' Association of America and IBPSIA executive director said change is the theme for the pro shop organization that is now run by BPAA.

    "Focus on change and stay ahead of the trends," Berglund said. "The challenge is converting the open play bowler into a serious bowler. We have to work to get them involved in the sport. Pro shops and coaching are a key part of bowling."

    Highlights from other June 25 seminars:
    * "Bowling is a Contact Sport" by founder of, IBPSIA charter member and top coach Paul Kreins. Kreins shared strategies about successful marketing techniques to develop new customers and keep current ones.
    * "Match Equipment to Lane Conditions," by industry experts Mo Pinel and USBC-certified Gold coach Del Warren taught how to match bowling balls to lane conditions and styles of each athlete.
    * "Pro Shop + Coach + Proprietor = SUCCESS," by Jerry Francomano emphasized the importance of building strong relationships between pro shops, coaches and bowling center proprietors.