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Famed coach Mark Baker brings it all together in great videos featuring stars Belmonte, Simonsen, Prather, Husted, McEwan

JEFF RICHGELS | Posted: Saturday, January 20, 2024 7:00 am
Famed coach Mark Baker brings it all together in great videos featuring stars Belmonte, Simonsen, Prather, Husted, McEwan
Mark Baker, center, with, left to right, Danielle McEwan, Jason Belmonte, Dave Husted, Kris Prather, and Anthony Simonsen. Photo courtesy Mark Baker.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the best and most famous coaches in the world: John Jowdy, Mike Jasnau, Mike Shady and Steve Richter — the latter two my long-time teammates.

If I was still taking the game seriously, the coach I’d love to travel to work with is Mark Baker, the 4-time PBA Tour champion who was a star when I was a hack in the 1980s. Mostly, I'm curious how close my game is to fitting the success markers he's identified in studying some of the world's best.  

I first wrote about Baker the coach in 2014 after he’d worked with stars like Chris Barnes and Bill O’Neill and I had bought and read his book, “The Game Changer: A Simple System For Improving Your Bowling Scores.”

Later in 2014, I reviewed Baker’s DVD “The System” that expanded on the book and brought it to life, so to speak, making it perhaps the best purchase a bowler seeking improvement could make short of actual in-person coaching from a top coach.

Then in 2020, I wrote about Baker branching into virtual lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baker has since opened the West Pac Training Center, a 2-lane facility with all the bells and whistles, including Specto. The most interesting thing is cameras that offer a view of the front of players as they take their approach.

His latest effort takes place at West Pac and features star players Jason Belmonte, Anthony Simonsen, Kris Prather, Dave Husted, and Danielle McEwan.

The result is “The Game's Changed: Video Series” — one for 1-handers, one for 2-handers, and one for seniors. The first two are $75 and the third comes free with a purchase of one or both of the others.

Here is what the website says:
“Embark on an immersive journey into the dynamic world of bowling with this instructional video series. Join iconic bowling sensations Jason Belmonte, Anthony Simonsen, Danielle McEwan, Kris Prather, and Dave Husted as they team up with world-renowned professional bowling coach Mark Baker to unveil the success markers of both the 1-handed and 2-handed bowling styles. In this captivating series, you'll gain an unprecedented breakdown of each style, along with a streamlined approach for understanding lane play.
Discover the innovative "Baker Box" and learn how you can use it to throw your best shots more often. Get ready to roll with the best in the business – your journey to bowling excellence starts here!”

There also is a video trailer at the site that gives you a sense of what is being offered.

Baker comped me the videos so I could review them. And they are good enough that if I still was a serious bowler I would not hesitate to pay for them.

Not only do you get a fascinating breakdown of Baker’s easy-to-understand success markers and bowling philosophy, you get some incredible video of the games of the five stars and how the things they do that are the same inspire Baker’s markers and philosophy.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say it was eye-opening for me to see the similarities in their games and Baker’s explanation of concepts like when to drop your hips, "moving the air forward," and the Baker box using the stars to illustrate them.

The 2-handed video featuring Belmonte and Simonsen is the first time I’ve ever seen a high-level coach break down the 2-handed style so that I could understand the keys to success with it, and to see the similarities between the games of the superstars also was eye-opening.

For the first time, I feel like I understand what makes a successful 2-handed bowler. (To be fair, I’ve never really explored the topic.)

And the free senior video with Husted made me realize I’ve been using a wrong technique trying to compensate for my declining speed and revs; we’ll see if Husted's technique and Baker’s advice can help me. Hint: deep knee bend has gone the way of the squared shoulder.

Watching these videos was inspiring and again made me wish I was younger and competitive at high levels again so it would be worthwhile to make a trip for a lesson with Baker at West Pac.

While some might think $75 is steep for a video, it will provide a great overview of the things the best do to be the best, providing a template for what any bowler can do to get better.

At the least, you will be a smarter bowler after watching these videos.

And it isn’t that much when you consider a one-on-one lesson with a top coach could be about twice that much and a bowling ball could be three times as much.