Interview with USBC Gold Level coach Andy Penny, England



    USBCGoldCoachAndyPenny.jpgAndy Penny, 49, of Stevenage, Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, recently became the first bowling coach from Northern Europe to earn United States Bowling Congress Gold Level certification. Penny has been coaching for 28 years but has been involved with the sport of bowling for more than 30 years, many of which were spent as a successful tournament bowler. 

    Bowlingdigital talked with the 33rd Gold Level coach and Andy told us why he went for the gold and where he sees it going.

    Bowlingdigital: When did you start thinking about becoming a USBC Gold Level coach?
    Andy Penny: I first became aware of the program in 1999, I obtained Silver Level in 2001. I have worked on the Gold Level on and off for several years but really decided to go for it in earnest towards the end of 2007. The Gold Level is seen as the ultimate qualification for coaches in Bowling. It is highly respected and well recognized by many countries in all of the zones of world bowling.

    The main reason though was that it gave me the qualifications to teach other instructors and coaches at a higher level. However you want to look at it, the USBC is the unofficial guardian of our sport.


    BD: Why?
    AP: They have really turned things round in the last two years or so. The surveys and studies that they have embarked have given us hard factual data that will be of invaluable use for many years to come. The Ball motion study has even won awards for it's quality from organizations outside of sport. They are a huge resource of information, which they are happy to share and have the leadership required to protect and nourish our sport and regain the integrity it has lost in some areas.


    BD: You are now the first USBC Gold Level coach from Northern Europe. Has this attracted much attention?
    AP: Since the announcement of my gold certification I have received many requests for information from people who wish to become coaches through the USBC system. I am very excited to be the first European coach qualified to certify coaches at Silver Level. My first Silver Level conference will take place later this year. I will be offering Mentoring sessions to those who feel they are ready to take it to the next level.


    BD: What's the situation in Bowling in the United Kingdom during this economic downturn?
    AP: Bowling in the UK is a bit of a paradox right now. We have falling numbers of league and tournament players but still have a huge number of juniors participating regularly in their tournaments. Even though we are in recession open play figures are still quite buoyant. In the UK right now we have the opportunity to build some momentum, People are tired of waiting for someone else to do the right thing. They now know there is an alternative source of information on how to teach today's game and they want to take it. I am very happy and excited to be a part of that.

    The most exciting news is that Bowling is being seen as an equal opportunity sport and schools are looking for it to become one of the core sports in the Government's drive to have all children being involved in sporting activity for 5 hours a week, 2 hours during school time and 3 hours outside of school hours.


    BD: Does Bowling have any advantage?
    AP: Bowling's advantage over many traditional school sports is that there is less emphasis on power so people of all shapes and sizes can take part on equal terms. It appeals to both boys and girls. It is a sport that requires thought not just brute force.

    I am working closely with the Proprietors Association to put a plan in place for a National Schools Coaching program for Physical Education teachers. As always it is about funding, but there is money available to the schools and it is up to us as a sport to show that we are worthy of them spending their money with us to provide good quality coaching to the pupils from their own school teachers.

    Just think of the impact of having teachers teaching our sport to potential tournament players every day of the week!


    BD: How did you start teaching?
    AP: Throughout all the stages of my life I have always taught others. During my Engineering apprenticeship my lecturers asked me to take the class, They believed that I should join their ranks rather than be wasted in a workshop environment.


    BD: What are your plans now?
    AP: I want to give something back to the sport, Through Bowling I have been fortunate enough to visit over 30 different countries and experience their cultures and study their coaching methods and programs.

    I still have a burning ambition to take a country and build a National Training Program with the infrastructure to produce winning athletes. I am ready to roll out this program for the right opportunity. I have had several offers since leaving Team England, but I haven't felt able to commit because not all the right things were in place.


    BD: What are you looking for?
    AP: The country I would be happy to work with would need to be able to make a longer term commitment to a coaching program. The current 2 year cycle between major championships is just too short. The older 4 year cycle was a much better arrangement. It gave coaches enough time to develop players fully.


    BD: What if the federations aren't flexible enough?
    Until such time I would like to pass on the things I have learnt from some of the best coaches in the world to others - especially younger coaches. I am also still learning. Our game is changing so quickly and that's what is needed, the flexibility and the forward thinking to be able to take new things on board.

    The players are also the teachers, I learn from them all the time. If you believe that you know it all or you think there is nothing more for you to learn in coaching then you should retire, give it up. Something I'm not planning to do for a long time.


    Contact Andy Penny at