Change from College to PBA

Change from College to PBA, Josh Blanchard, 2012 PBA Rookie of the Year

 Learning how to read the lanes quicker and know your ball reaction becomes the biggest part of the PBA.



College Bowling is becoming a main stay for Professional Bowlers around the world. As the game has changed over the past 20 years, so have the bowlers. 20 years ago college wasn’t a necessity for bowlers like it is now due to the turn in the bowling industry and the global economy. As more and more young adults are attending college for a better job, college bowling has followed the trend and grown tenfold with participation and the level of competition.


I have followed the perfect path to the PBA; Junior bowler to Junior Gold to Junior Team USA to College Bowling to the PBA. Each level has had there own challenges and obstacles to overcome. One of the hardest moves is from college to the PBA. It has been the biggest change because the difference in mindset and lane play. In college, the goal was to work as a team to help each other and break the lanes down in your favor. In the PBA, you might be paired with guys who have a much higher rev rate than you but are playing straighter than you or hooking more than you. Which way do I go? In college the answer was easy; move left and hook it more. This is the mentality of 95% of college bowlers and you follow suit to try and fit in. As you progress in the PBA you realize that this isn’t the only option and you better be good at playing the lanes the way you want and not following everyone around you because they all have tricks of their own that you can’t physically do. Ex: Two handed, 22 mph speed, spin the ball, and loft the gutter cap.

 Learning how to read the lanes quicker and know your ball reaction becomes the biggest part of the PBA. My philosophy on lane play changed very quickly when I went out on tour. My lane play philosophy went from just moving left and hooking more in college, to playing the fronts straighter and not relying on the backend of the lane to strike in the PBA. My first failure/experience came last year at the WSOB. I made the top 16 three straight days in a row. During the semifinals every night I struggled because the lanes were playing so much tighter on the back ends and I couldn’t get my ball to face the pocket the correct way to carry and keep up with the scoring pace. Although I was discouraged and wanted to get upset, I asked myself; “Why am I not succeeding during the semi-finals?” This answer didn’t come overnight or from one person but from watching and learning from the best in the world week in and out and asking questions. Thomas Edison was once told that he failed 1000 times before he created light. He responded with “I didn’t fail 1000 times, I found 1000 ways not to make light.” I used those words to inspire me on the PBA. I didn’t fail 3 straight days, I found out many different ways to not succeed and score on the PBA tour.


I talk about many ways that college bowling didn’t help me or compare to the PBA but College bowling prepared me mentally for the PBA. In college bowling, you have teammates who compete with you and watch every shot to read your ball motion and your attitude. You always knew that if you didn’t strike you had 4 guys behind you to pick you up and put you right back in the game mentally and physically. I used this concept on the PBA Tour. Let say I step up in the first frame of a PBA tournament and split. Most bowlers get down on themselves and that split has ruined their score and mentally put them in the wrong place. Now this exact same thing happens in college bowling. You come off the approach and there are teammates there to support you and tell you that it is ok. Why do they say this? Well they just got a read from your split and now they know to move and throw 3 or 4 strikes in a row. I used that same mentality on the lanes during a PBA event. If I split or didn’t see the right ball reaction I wanted, I would tell myself it was ok and to make an adjustment, as my teammates would, and throw a 5 bagger.


The biggest change I saw in myself going from the College Bowling to the PBA was my rev rate. In college almost every athlete wants to see their ball hook more and more and move farther and farther left. Naturally you increase your rev rate to compensate for this lane play strategy. When I made the move to the PBA, my mentality had to change and I decreased my rev rate to control the midlane more and see my ball roll smoother. This is a common theme for most bowlers who transition from college bowling to the PBA.