Readers respond to Dick Evans' column about possible danger for youngsters using a two-handed delivery

    04/29/08

    Column

    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg In his recent column "Youth Rule Needed", award-winning bowling writer Dick Evans asked the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) do a study to see if two-handed style is dangerous for young junior bowlers.

    Kegel's John Davis thinks this could be an interesting project. Australia's Jason Belmonte, one of the founders of the two-handed style refuses to take sides, while the parent of a two-handed youth bowler in Latvia defends the style and brings up interesting points for bowling parents worldwide to consider.


    "Dick

    "I asked Jason Belmonte about the strain on his back and a lengthy conversation followed. Jason's claims that there is less stress on his body than using one hand. He uses the big muscles of his torso and claims he gets less fatigued than one handers. Jason is intelligent and articulate you will enjoy him (if you contact him on the subject).

    "Osku (Palermaa) from Finland is another story. He has had a few problems. Remember Rick Steelsmith?

    "Do you remember Bill Taylor saying "Bad games don't grow old"? He was referring to the strain the modern bowling style puts on the body that didn't happen in years past with styles like say David Ozio.

    "I will get you Jason's email. This could be an interesting project.

    "Bowling is in extreme flux, it is difficult to keep up with all the change. I have seen my role as one who is driven to help to define the sport. The game changed a bunch starting in the early 70's.

    "Our guiding organizations ABC/WIBC have been asleep for some time. I am excited to see them awake. They are making some bold moves.

    "I had a funny thought, if the ABC had kept up and had fulfilled its role of maintaining the 'Ancient traditions of the sport' I would still be a pinsetter mechanic."

    John Davis
    Founder and owner of Kegel in Lake Wales, Fla.


    So after Davis sent me the Email address of the Australian star, I sent an Email to Jason Belmonte, possibly the hottest amateur bowler in the world today and a master of the two-handed delivery. Below is his reply to my column and note:


    "Dick,

    "Mate, thank you for the email.

    "Firstly, I do not wish to comment on your article. Like you, I am not in the medical business and cannot really comment on how 2 handed bowling will affect 'everyone's body.

    "I think its a smart thing to do some testing, like the curve ball, the last thing anyone wants is to cause harm to youngsters.

    "Like all kinds of styles in bowling, there will be stress to the body. For me to comment and say that 2 handed bowling will either harm or not harm anyone is way out of my reach.

    "I enjoy reading your articles on bowlingdigital.com and I look forward to reading your next one.

    "Jason Belmonte"


    Then there is the following note sent by a father who read my two-handed story on bowlingdigital.com. The original letter and then the letter I received after sending him an Email for more information on his son and where they live follows:


    "Dear Sir:

    "First of all let me introduce myself. I am the father of Daniel 13 years old, who taught himself to bowl two handed about 18 months ago after having previously being a one handed lefty since he was seven. He just recently finished 27th in EYC 2008 (European Youth Championships) with a 208 average.

    "I have a few points that I would like to discuss with you. Firstly, I agree totally regarding the five-year-old throwing a 15 lbs. ball in Oregon. However, this should not highlighted as a problem in an article relating to two-handed bowling. Any parent/coach allowing a child up to the age of 14 to throw such a ball either one or two handed should have their heads tested as to the medical consequences.

    "My son took up two-handed bowling because it was increasingly difficult to compete in his age group with kids throwing 14/15 lbs. balls when he was throwing 11/12 lbs. He met Osku Palermaa in 2006 in Riga and decided to change, which he successfully did after weeks of studying videos of Osku and practicing with me 3-4 times a week.

    "Only a few weeks before EYC 2008, did he move from a 13 lbs. to a 14 lbs. ball under the advice of Sid Allen, who coaches the Latvian team 4-5 times a year (he would be a very good person to talk to regarding junior 2 handed bowling as he has spent the last year fine tuning my son's technique) and he does not expect him to go to 15 lbs. for the next two years.

    Surely, a better rule to be introduced in all junior events until 18 years old for both one and two handers would be ball weight to age limit, to avoid coaches/parents forcing their children to throw far too heavy balls for their age purely to get higher results than their ability deserves.

    This rule could prevent many long term future injuries be it back, shoulder, wrist, or hip related. I suggest up to the age of 15 no junior should be allowed to compete with a ball heavier than their age, a system that would be very easy to check

    "Regarding the future back problems, as parents we continually worry about potential medical problems for Daniel in the future. However, watching many local one-handed juniors throwing heavier balls, trying to get more revs/speed, I don't think any survey should be restricted only to two-handed bowling as I have seen several juniors who will have serious health implications long before they are 40 simply because of the pressures they are putting their bodies under. And there are many stories of injuries suffered by one-handed bowlers, problems mainly caused by incorrect technique.

    "Just one quick point: All sports have a medical risk, if anyone plays any sport at a high level for many years, there will always be future medical consequences. If they put their bodies on the line to achieve their aim-- rugby, football, gymnastics to mention a few -- then obviously all sports should have proper medical advice regarding these future potential problems for children.

    "Having had the experience of watching my son convert from one handed to two handed, I would advise anyone who is thinking of taking up two-handed bowling to realize that to have smooth technique they have to be very supple, something I have heard is very difficult to do when juniors start throwing at ages 16-18. I think that shows with Osku and Jason, who like my son started throwing two handed at a very young age.

    "I am 40 and have tried the two-handed style and it is not as easy as it looks. With their technique they make it look effortless at times.

    "I hope my comments maybe of some use to you. Obviously I could talk all day about the pro/cons of two-handed bowling. I think generally that juniors should have some regulation but I think it should be across the board and not just related to two-handed bowling

    "Best regards,
    Craig Vezis


    And below is his response to my note:


    "Dear Mr. Evans:

    "Thank you for your reply, obviously I have no problem with you using my reply to you in a letter section, but it would be nice if it related to your article on bowlingdigital.com.

    "Otherwise it may be misinterpreted by some who have not read your original story. Most of the comments I made came directly from my son Daniel's thinking on the subject so you could use his (Daniel Vezis) or mine.

    "We are both expats from England living in the town of Jurmala, country Latvia where he bowls for the Latvian junior team. There is a small possibility he may make 2008 World Youth Championships in Orlando this summer as he is currently on the shortlist. If this happens, I will let you know as it would be a very good opportunity to study two-handed junior bowling in America if he makes 2008 WYC team.

    "Best regards,
    "Craig Vezis

    "P.S note. I would prefer my son to play any sport rather than the millions of kids around the world who spend 12 hours a day slumped over a computer screen, who think exercise is walking to the refrigerator to get some more junk food!!"
    Bezmaksas