October 22, 2007 19:00
Doug Kent, a 19-year Denny's PBA Tour veteran, was sure the 2006-07 season would be his last. Instead, Kent had the finest season of his career, winning two Major titles and earning his first PBA Player of the Year award. Kent became just the sixth bowler in tour history to win two Majors in a season, capturing the 2006 USBC Masters and the 2007 Denny's World Championship, the latter giving him a four-year tour exemption. Kent will try to become the first bowler since 1965 to repeat as Masters champion when the 2007 USBC Masters kicks off the 2007-08 regular season this week. The live ESPN televised championship round from Milwaukee's Miller Park takes place Sunday, Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. ET.
Kent spent an hour today chatting with fans on USAToday.com. Below are his answers.
Comment from Doug Kent: Good afternoon everybody. Welcome to today's chat. Go easy on me!
Norwood, Minn.: Doug, Good luck to you and Parker from Steve and Michelle Bohn. Do you think it would be a good decision if you could to bowl the qualifying for the Masters instead of waiting for the final 64? I see in the past the past winners don't have a good chance due to not bowling for the week with others to see the transition. Do you have the option? See you in Vernon Hills.
Doug Kent: Hi guys! It would definitely help to get a few more games in on the lanes to get a feel. But it's also a big bonus not having to bowl.
Boise, Idaho: What advice would you give to a person who wants to be on the Denny’s PBA Tour? What do you suggest they work on before competing with the professionals? Thank you for your time Mr. Kent, and good luck at Miller Park!!
Doug Kent: First, you need to have very, very good fundamentals. And you need to get a lot of experience in tournament play.
Rochester, N.Y.: First, let me start by saying congratulations on Player of the Year. It's nice to have a hometown champion. My question to you…. you have thought about retirement, and now with such a strong year and a four-year exemption. What will the future hold for the Kent family? Also with your son bowling well, what advice do you give him while you are on tour, and he is back at home?
Doug Kent: Even though I have a four-year exemption, I'm not quite sure if I am going to bowl the full four years. It really depends on the status of the PBA and if it's financially worth bowling. I'm still very competitive and if my body holds up I'll evaluate it after two years. And as far as my son, he's an up and coming good bowler and I'd really like to spend a couple years on Tour with him if that's what he decides to do.
Livonia, Mich.: How does one physically prepare to meet the challenging stamina of bowling a large number of games per week?
Doug Kent: With our new formats, we don't bowl too many games anymore, which is a lot easier on guys’ knees and backs and elbows. But it's still very important to get a lot of practice games in each week to stay sharp and to stay at the competitive level to compete on Tour with these great bowlers out here.
Charlotte, N.C.: Having a street named in your honor has to be such a great feeling for you. Did the timing changes you made during last year's break really give you that much confidence to have the break out year you did? Congrats on the Player of the Year award, couldn't have come to a nicer guy. Jim Lord
Doug Kent: Hi Jimmy. Hope all is well. It wasn't that the changes gave me more confidence, it really helped me repeat shots a lot better and it sped up my rev rate which helped me carry a lot more off pocket hits. That was the biggest difference.
Houston, Texas: Hey Doug, I have a Brunswick Radical Inferno drilled for hooking hard, but I'm still throwing this ball straight, (don't ask me how, but I do). How do I change my throwing motion and hand on this ball?
Doug Kent: Driling a ball to hook hard doesn't mean it's going to hook hard. Your release is the most important part of getting the ball to hook along with the proper ball speed. I would suggest seeing a professional to get lessons, preferably someone who can do video lessons or possibly even spend a few days at the Kegel Training Center. Good luck!
Alexander City, Ala.: What age did you start bowling?
Doug Kent: I started at the age of five and first bowled in junior leagues when I was seven. I was coached by my father.
Alexander City, Ala.: How many 300 games have you shot?
Doug Kent: I have 29 300 games in the PBA. In leagues, I have around 40.
Colorado Springs, Colo.: Hey Doug. My name is Ed, and I'm a 29 year old bowler from Colorado. I was just wanting to know, when do you think the Denny’s PBA Tour will return to Colorado?
Doug Kent: Ed, I'm not quite sure. But I have bowled well in Colorado and I would love to return. It's a great state.
Illinois: Doug, is it fair that the entire tournament takes place at a bowling center but the finals take place on different lanes in a baseball stadium?
Doug Kent: When is bowling ever fair? The lefty-righty controversy will always be there, always has been, always will be. And the arena finals are always very intense and as long as the lanes are oiled the same left to right that's as fair as it's going to get.
High Springs, Fla.: Doug, I have a 17 year old that has great potential. He has two 300's and an 800 all in tournament play. He bowled in the Junior Gold at Buffalo. He also bowls in the monthly Kegel tournaments. I am a Bronze level coach. How do I get him to the next level? Thanks, Bill Coleman
Doug Kent: First of all Bill, kids have a track record of not listening to their parents when it comes to coaching. It would be wise to get some outside coaching. I'm not sure why that is, but I was like that with my father. It sounds like he has a lot of potential but if he's not trained properly and doesn't learn the necessary things to get to the next level, i.e. equipment, adjustments, its going to be very difficult for him to get to the next level. There are a lot of kids who throw the ball very, very well but never learn how to bowl. Good luck.
Three Rivers, Mich.: DK, Congrats on your POY season. My question is: After last year's success are you satisfied with the earlier timing that we worked on and are you now practicing with any further changes? Best wishes to you, Chrissie, Natalie Jane and Jacob. How about "back to back" POY? Remember, 3 and 1. Rolin
Doug Kent: Hey Rolin. Hope all is well. How could I not be satisfied? Getting it earlier was something I had been trying to do for years and couldn't get it. Now I'm trying to make it even earlier, not much but a little and it feels even better. Being even earlier I can pick up my foot pace and run under it a little more. Its going to be another good year, I can feel it. See you in Detroit, if not before.
Chatham, N.J.: I’m in between a “tweener” and a “cranker” and I’m bowling on the Shark pattern Sunday. What kind of ball would you recommend for this pattern?
Doug Kent: Without seeing you bowl, it's hard to recommend a ball for you but if you throw the ball hard, I would recommend Black Widows with a lot of surface or even the No Mercy Beat'n. Keep your ball speed slow and don't try to hook it a lot.
Beresford, N.B., Canada: Hi Doug. Which Major of the two titles you won was the most exiting last year and why?
Doug Kent: Good question. Both were very, very exciting but I would have to say winning the Masters for the second time was the most exciting. Winning the Masters is one of the most difficult to win because of the format and the number of entries.
Skaneateles, N.Y.: Doug, congratulations on winning the Masters and the World Championship and being Player of the Year. I have two questions. First, who was your toughest opponent last season? Second, what's your strategy heading into a TV final?
Doug Kent: My toughest opponent has got to be Pete Weber, especially on TV. I don't think I've ever beaten him on TV. And preparing for the TV finals I just try to come prepared the best I can with equipment and try to have a game plan and follow that game plan. It's the only way that you can prepare for it.
Delhi, Iowa: Doug: How do you mentally prepare for a tournament or an opponent that you know that you can win or beat?
Doug Kent: I go into every tournament knowing I can win; it's just a matter of preparing yourself better than your opponent and of course executing shots. I concentrate more on my own game more than my opponent. As soon as you start concerning yourself with your opponent your chances of winning go down a lot.
Shortsville, N.Y.: I just want to say how proud I am to know Doug Kent. Newark is proud of you also, with a sign at Newark's city line that says "Home of DOUG KENT PBA bowler of the year." Thank You, Doug for giving us a thrilling year. I will see you in Buffalo........Dick Schaefer
Doug Kent: See you soon Dick! Call me and let me know when you want to come to Buffalo, I'll get you in. Thanks for the kind words. See you soon.
Oxon Hill, Md.: First of all, great season last year and I love your game very much. My question is what type of advice would you give a beginner bowler with natural talent trying to find their way bowling?
Doug Kent: Thank you and the best advice I can give to any beginning bowler is get coaching. Get good coaching at a young age and develop good fundamentals. That's the most important thing. Good things will happen if you have good fundamentals and work hard.
Greece, N.Y.: What are some of your strengths and weaknesses in your game going into the2007-08 season? How do you feel about one of your best friends, Bryan O'Keefe, moving to Wisconsin? Seeing Bryan on TV last weekend, he could pass for your brother. Mike Mathous, Huge Doug Kent fan
Doug Kent: Hi Mike. My strengths right now are confidence and shot repeating. My timing has never felt better which helps me repeat better than I've ever repeated before. I can't tell you my weakness because I'd have to kill you. I'm not too happy about Bryan O'Keefe moving to Wisconsin because we just lost another Bills fan. And I lost a tailgaiting partner. But he'll be fine and if he had glasses we'd be twins. See you soon.
Leighton, Ala.: I have problems adjusting after a certain part of the lane dries up. What is the correct rule as to where to move?
Doug Kent: The best thing to do is let your ball be your guide. Most people try to fight the dry instead of moving and playing the oil. If your ball goes high keep moving left and experiment with different balls to give you the reaction you need to hit the pocket or stay in the pocket. Learning how to move is always one of the trickiest parts of the game. If you figure it out, you will be well on your way. Thanks and have a nice day!
Hobe Sound, Fla.: I bowl almost six times a week at about 10 games a day. I average around 224 on a house shot. When I come up to sport shot however my strike percentage takes a huge drop. I go from a 224 to a 189 in average. I am a really good spare shooter. My coach tells me I have to change my form in order to keep up with the changing times. To this day I am a down an in bowler who was brought up on the ideals of target bowling. My form looks somewhat like the form of Bo Burton. But I really don’t want to change anything with my hand or anything like that. Plus another one of my down falls is I throw no revs. What do you suggest that I can do to bring my strike percentage up?
Doug Kent: Sounds like you bowl a lot of games and are well practiced but if you're not practicing the proper things you won't improve. The worst thing you could do is not change anything because if you are a one-dimensional bowler you will only bowl well on certain lane conditions. You need to work on being more versatile and that could take time. Listen to your coach and make the necessary changes and experiment with different speeds, angles and hand positions and that will help you the most.
Sterling Heights, Mich.: Hi Doug. After last year's victory at the USBC Masters, do you feel any pressure to get back to the show and defend your title??
Doug Kent: No pressure, just anxiety. It would be nice to repeat especially at the USBC Masters.
Callands, Va.: Hey Doug! Best of luck this year on the Tour! I’ve noticed that there is no one on Tour who can stay balanced at the line better than you and my question is, what are key factors in doing this consistently? Ryan Shepherd.
Doug Kent: Well Ryan, thanks for the compliment. The one thing that helps me stay balanced at the line is keeping my toe down on my trail leg. Thanks for the question and good luck.
Findlay, Ohio: Doug how did you get your release to where it is today? You have a solid open hand release that is just awesome to watch!
Doug Kent: A lot of practice and a lot of video taping helps me see my hand, that way I can correct it if it's not where I want it. I have a lot of different releases for many lane conditions. Staying versatile is very important on the Denny's PBA Tour. Thanks for the compliment.
Richmond Va.: When you leave the 3-6-9-10, how do you go so straight up the lane to make that?
Doug Kent: I try not to leave that one. It's a tough one but I never throw at that one straight. Hooking it is your best option because of the back pin, of course. Experiment a little bit with that one. It's not fun to throw at. Good luck.
Alfred Rodriguez, Houston, Texas: What has been your most valuable asset in getting you where you are today in bowling?
Doug Kent: Staying mentally prepared and being a student of the game. I'm always willing to learn more to stay up with the young guys.
Orange City, Iowa: Congratulations on a great year. Does Walter Ray Williams Jr. have a bulls eye on his back? Do you get especially motivated when you bowl against him? Thanks.
Doug Kent: WRW is very difficult to beat and going into a match against him you know you have your hands full and you better bowl your best game. He's a great champion.
Kingsport, Tenn. How do you stay behind the ball before your delivery? I have a problem of turning the ball early. Also, how can I get out of the thumb earlier and carry the ball on my palm before I deliver it?
Doug Kent: You have to train yourself to stay behind the ball. It's easy to turn the ball early. You might be able to try some different pitches in your thumb hole to help you stay behind it more and have a professional help you and watch you.
Tyler, Texas: What type a targeting system do you rely on? Do you focus on a break spot, arrows or form an imaginary line and throw down that line? I know there are many different ways to target. I was curious what system works for you. Thanks for your time.
Doug Kent: I use many different systems depending on lane conditions. Heavier oil lane conditions I look at the dots, drier lane conditions I look at the arrows, sometimes I look farther down, but not very often. I use to look at a break point many years ago but the game has changed so much that looking earlier helps get the ball off my hand quicker.
Singapore: Bowling ball manufacturers constantly come up with new balls. Do pro bowlers constantly upgrade to new bowling balls, or most of you guys will actually stick to the same equipment once you found your favorite?
Doug Kent: We all have our favorites and keep them but technology is always changing so fast that if we don't keep up it's very easy to fall behind so its very important to drill new balls.
Frankfort, Ind.: Hi Doug. I thought maybe you could help with a problem. I am a 70 year old lady still very active in bowling and bowl twice a week on a league. I have bowled for 53 years in league play but my bowling has been a problem for couple of years. I had to drop to a 10 lb. ball this season from a 12 lb. because I have lost arm muscle. What I want to know is how can I improve my average? I throw a hook ball with a 10 lb. ball I am getting very upset with myself because I can remember when I used to be a 186 average bowler I feel like age as a lot to do with it, but I am not ready to give up bowling. I need help.
Doug Kent: Have you tried getting some help? You might be doing something a little wrong and that could be causing your problems. Don't give up. A little help could go a long way. Throwing a 10 pound ball puts you at a little disadvantage but a 10 pounder can still knock them over. Good luck.
Syracuse, N.Y.: Hey Bolt, How do you make it hook so much? Boomerang
Doug Kent: Hey Bolt. Roll your ball down Bunker Hill Drive and play a lot of golf. That's what works for me. See ya on the first hole. I'm bowling doubles this year with Morf Jr. Haha.
Sarasota, Fla.: Do you feel there is enough potential financial gain to bowl for a living?
Doug Kent: Well, considering last year was $450,000-plus I would have to consider, yes, it is financially worth it to bowl for a living. I can't make that at a desk job. Yes, definitely. There are so many opportunities financially in bowling especially for our youth with scholarships. There are a lot of people making a living throwing a bowling ball, and a good living. Yes, it could be better, but it could also be a lot worse.
Comment from Doug Kent: Thank you all for your questions. I have some other obligations. Good luck this year. Practice hard, score high and make lots and lots of $$$$$$$.
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