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Food For Thought
Bowling - An Academic & Athletic View
Many people misconstrue bowling as a simple leisure activity. Society is often misled by the notion that bowling is nothing more than throwing a ball at ten pins and adding the score. Quite a disillusionment from what we actually face as coaches and bowlers. This assumption negates the sport of bowling as both physically and psychologically difficult. In fact, bowling may not be as physically exhaustive as marathon running and distance swimming, or dangerous like football and boxing, but it does require sport specific athleticism.
An Academic View
In the current physical education literature, bowling is referred as a co-acting noncontact sport. Co-acting sports are those individually oriented, similar to racquetball or golf. Noncontact refers to the lack of physical collisions or contact with other individuals or sport items such as a ball. Beyond the physical education outlook, scientifically, every sport and leisure activity has a specific activity cost. An activity cost is the amount of energy required to perform the given movement. It was once determined bowling for a continuous hour produces a caloric expenditure of 288 for the average 160 pound individual. A 250 pound individual would burn an upward of 450 calories per hour (Debruyne, Sizer, & Whitney, 1991). It was also scientifically derived bowling has a metabolic rate of 3.5. Interpretation of this measurement reveals bowling requires 3.5 times more effort than the normal resting metabolic rate. In physiological terms, 3.5 METS describes bowling necessitating 12.25 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (Wilmore & Costill, 1988). Coaches, this is a little physiological ammo you can keep the next time someone challenges our sport.
An Athletic View
All sports require physical effort translating into work. Bowling, no different from other sports in this respect, also demands sport specific physical exertion. Numerous combinations of muscular contractions generate the movements required to produce the aesthetically pleasing smooth roll of a bowling ball. These same muscular contractions equate into calories burned, energy expended and kinetic and heat energy created. Particularly strong muscular force is required throughout a bowler's push away, approach, pivot step, forward armswing, release, follow through and finish position.
Avid bowlers often adhere to exercise training and nutrition guidelines similar to other sport and recreation enthusiasts. In fact, I have most recently designed many personalized programs for bowlers and coaches with specialized needs or requests. Physical fitness has always been a viable tool to improved athletic performance, while only recently being applied with some accuracy to the bowling community. Thank you BTM. As a proponent of physical fitness and education, I advocate bowling coaches maintain a working knowledge of the physical stresses involved in our sport. Developing an appreciation and a level of proficiency in basic exercise, nutrition, injury management, fluid intake and related topics will enhance the consumer's perception as well as the coaches capabilities. To aid your quest for bowling-specific fitness information, pick up the latest issue of Bowling This Month (1-800-282-7043) and review the Physically Speaking section.
When I discuss physical fitness and athletics, the question always arises whether fitness & wellness are important for sports such as racquetball, tennis, golf or bowling? The answer to that question lies in the understanding that nearly all sports necessitate and depend on some ability of our musculoskeletal system to induce and withstand specific amounts of force. In order for our athletes to perform successfully, they must be able to generate specific amounts of controlled and finely tuned force. Bowlers are also required to be balanced, flexible, relaxed, agile, physically apt to maintain performance for great lengths of time, as well as mentally enhanced to deal with the rigors of competition. Each physical component can be improved or enhanced through sport specific exercise training.
In closing, we should acknowledge that the perception of our sport has been marred for many years by societies disillusioned view of the bowler. Again, bowling is a far cry from throwing a ball at ten pins and adding the score. Continued academic and athletic study of bowling will promote an enhanced perception of our reality. Knowing the terminology, understanding the physics, and enforcing physical fitness will elevate a coaches competence and capabilities. Therefore, let us not allow society to be fooled by the smooth aesthetic beauty of our sport. Bowling is both physically and psychologically challenging.
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