"Me? Need a Coach? ME?"
Yep - you. And me. And every other bowler on the planet.
No one has ever - or ever will - "master" bowling. You can be good - you can even be great - but you will never be so talented that you can't improve. And that's why every bowler needs a coach.
Ever watch professional bowlers on TV or the internet? Have you noticed the people who hover near and speak to the competitors? Just who are those guys? you ask. They work for bowling ball companies, and they are all top bowlers in their own right. They advise "their" bowlers on physical adjustments, strategy, and ball choices. In other words, they're coaches.
In the off-season, many pros work with their personal coaches, while others hone their skills at the Kegel Training Center in Florida or the International Training & Research Center in Texas. The point is, everyone needs a coach.
How to Start
But how do you find a coach? Well, I guess you can always call Norbert, your neighbor Bob's friend's uncle. Back in 1986, Norbert somehow managed to roll three strikes in a row, and ever since then he's taken it upon himself to "teach" others how to bowl. He's always ready to offer his wise counsel, tossing out such gems as "Throw it really fast, down the middle."
Or you can get online guidance, where unknown, self-anointed "experts" offer serious pearls of wisdom such as my favorite, "To bowl strikes, make the ball curve." Very helpful...
This brings us back to finding a skilled teacher. Well, start by knowing what not to do: don't choose a coach strictly on the basis of someone's high scores. It's hard to believe, but there are some very skilled bowlers who have very little idea of what they're doing - simply put, they're naturals. On the other side of the coin, there are people who lack the physical skills to be top bowlers, but know the sport well and are great teachers.
My advice: go shopping. Ask around. Check the Web for reviews. Watch how coaches conduct classes. Are they respectful of their students? Do they take the time to explain the logic behind what they're teaching, or do they just say "Do this..." without explaining why? Do they seem to actually enjoy teaching? Do they make lessons fun?
OK, say you've found a good coach. How much should you expect to pay for lessons? Well, some "elite" coaches charge up to $125 for a private lesson (usually one hour). Typically, though, you'll probably pay in the $50-$70 range, which should include bowling fees. (Ask about that. You don't want to be quoted a rate, then find out later that you'll have to pay extra for actually bowling.)
There are a lot of coaching Websites. Some are good, but some aren't so good, offering advice that is just plain wrong. If you're just learning how to bowl, how do you know if the online advice you're getting is worth listening to? You don't, so be careful. One site I recommend is operated by the United States Bowling Congress. Known as USBCBowlingAcademy.com, the site offers an impressive, well-produced array of video tutorials on a wide variety of topics. "Teaser" videos are free, but the "full" site is available only by (inexpensive) subscription. But here's the caveat: use it and other professional sites in conjunction with personal instruction.