International Coach Jim Porter talks about coaching challenges in foreign countries By Dick Evans

    04/23/07

    Column

    2005WRMDickEvans.jpg Bowling certainly is doing its part in helping reduce the United States' whopping world trade deficit every year.

    The United States has a monopoly when it comes to shipping and installing bowling equipment, lane machines – balls, lanes, automatic pinsetters, computer scorers -- used by 100-plus nations that field national teams.

    "All major bowling ball manufacturers are based in the USA and the world seeks their equipment, although there are some pirates located in Asia but their products are not competitive with the USA," said Jim Porter Jr., a former league bowler in Florida who has made it big as an international coach.

    "The only approved testing facility for the entire bowling world is located in the USA so all international equipment must be approved by the USBC (United States Bowling Congress."

    "In the world, the 'official' language of bowling is English, but I have always felt that it was part of my job to be able to communicate with the athletes in their native language," said Porter after serving as national federation coach in Malaysia, Thailand, Ecuador, Hong Kong, India, The Netherlands Antilles and now Chile.

    "Talking in the native language relaxes the athlete and a coach always needs to have his athletes' minds 'relaxed' (we do not want them to be analytical during competitions). I speak fluent Spanish and have no problem communicating in Thailand with the Thai language.

    Porter, who has visited and worked in 39 countries, left little doubt about the popularity of the Professional Bowler Association all across the world.

    "American pro bowlers are loved the world over. Their position in our sport is second to none. American products are basically all that there is in bowling world wide," Porter said.

    However, Porter did admit that America itself has lost admiration among foreigners in the past four years and many now have a different view about the United States.

    "In the 1990s, it was great saying that I was an American. All countries truly looked up to the USA and were proud to have a U.S. citizen working in their homeland.

    "I never feared for my life any place that bowling took me and was proud to say I was an American. But America's image has changed in the past few years and in other countries it definitely has become a different story."

    No matter, American bowling coaches still are in demand and make a good living.

    "The economic part of international coaching can be very rewarding to nominally rewarding. Each coach has to decide for themselves whether they want to be mercenary (change jobs just for the pay) or if they really want to make a difference in the country that hired them."

    He said that he now has a home in Thailand (Bangkok). "I fell in love with the country in 1988, worked there 1999-2001 and again in 2003-04-05 I have a townhouse there that I rent with a full time employee to take care of the house and my six dogs, five birds, fish tank, plants, etc."

    Porter believes he was the first 'virtual bowling coach' offering lessons through the Internet to all who wish to improve their skill level in the sport. "I have coached athletes and bowlers in more than 16 countries," he said.

    If interested you can send him an Email at [email protected]


    Below you will find other questions that Jim Porter answered:

    QUESTION: "When and where did you get started in bowling?"
    ANSWER: "I started bowling in leagues at the age of 9 in Olympia, Wash. Averages: 1961-99, 1962-138, 1963-167, 1964-183, 1965-201"

    QUESTION: "Where did you bowl in South Florida?"
    ANSWER: "When I arrived in South Florida (fall 1980) I started bowling at Hollywood Lanes then added Pembroke Pines and Pompano. In 1981 I bowled in Tamarac, Pompano and Kendall. From 1982 through 1988 I bowled mainly at Classic Lanes and Kendall (with various leagues in West Hollywood, Hialeah and always in the SFMBA."

    QUESTION: "What kind of average did you carry and what were your highest averages."
    ANSWER: "My first average in Pompano was about 223 and normally I was between 210 and 220 for my 8 years living in South Florida."

    QUESTION: "Did you ever get any professional coaching?"
    ANSWER: "My 'professional' coach is Cliff Tarpley and I also had some help form Tom Kouros and Fred Borden."

    QUESTION: "How did you land your first professional coaching job outside America plus where and when?"
    ANSWER: "My first 'professional' coaching job was in Malaysia from 1997-1998. I got the job from being at the AMF World Cup coaching Puerto Rico (where I lived after leaving Miami) and meeting an old friend (Sid Allen) who was the national coach of Malaysia. They offered me a job and I accepted in December 1996. I started working for them in January of 1997 through Feb. of 1999."

    QUESTION: "How are American coaches treated in foreign countries?"
    ANSWER: "American coaches are treated very fairly all around the world. A person from a different country always gets more respect than a 'home grown' coach and the USA had been considered the 'hot bed' of bowling technology and advancement (basically before 2000)."

    QUESTION: "What is the hardest and easiest part of coaching in a foreign country?"
    ANSWER: "The easiest part of being an International Coach is winning the respect of your athletes. The most difficult part of the job is trying to get the local 'politicians' (federation directors) to make changes in their antiquated systems of training and national team selection."

    QUESTION: "Do you ever fear for your life being an American."
    ANSWER: "I never feared for my life and was always proud say I was an American up until the day that the current political regime decided to go to war against Iraq. Since then I have found that it is much easier in the long run to say that I am a Canadian when asked as I travel around the world. (Very sad but also very true)"

    QUESTION: "How often do you get back to America and do you ever return to South Florida?"
    ANSWER: "I try and get back to the USA at least one time per year to visit my parents, brother and sisters in the state of Washington. I normally am only in Miami (South Florida) for connections at Miami International Airport.")

    QUESTION: "How many countries have you visited during your bowling travels?" ANSWER: "My bowling career has taken me to: Puerto Rico, Curacao, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Mexico, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, India, Brunei, Indonesia, China, Australia, the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Germany, France, Latvia, Aruba, Canada, and Scotland."

    QUESTION: "What is your favorite tournament and any of your team's top performances?"
    ANSWER: "My favorite tournament has got to be the Thailand Open because of the way that the Thai People treat all visitors (respect and happiness). My team's top performances would be the Thai National Team winning two gold medals in the SEA Games in Brunei 1999 (first time Thailand had won gold medals outside their country in Olympic Competitions) and Ecuador winning its first 'medal' in the South American Games in 2002.

    "I have always loved to travel and I find other cultures fascinating. Working in Christian, Muslin, Buddhist and Hindu nations has been a truly rewarding experience. I have filled two passports with 8 additions during my bowling travels.