UK Exclusive – We chat with Coach Duddle!!

Who is Coach Duddle?

No he’s not some cartoon character on kids TV, he is Russell Semple and a Youth Team England coach. Time to learn more and find out where the name came from?

We need to start at the beginning Russ, How did you find bowling and what made you fall in love with it?

So I bowled in my Youth through my Teens and into my twenties making a County Team in my mid twenties (Staffordshire). I bowled reverse hook (back-up) so I was never fantastic but I enjoyed it.

Then life got in the way and took me away from Bowling. I rejoined the sport in my early 40’s at Nuneaton and bowled for fun with friends and family and joined a Doubles League on Sunday nights…Until Lee Hart came over to us on a Family treat for my Niece Kara Zucca’s Birthday and asked her to try Nuneaton Vipers YBC. There the story of me and bowling reboots with Coaching…

Coaching has changed a lot over the years as new thoughts and theories have built a massive amount of information to learn. Why did this need to learn start for you. 

As I answered in Question 1 the reboot… The YBC had some great officials/parents and very talented coaches and athletes bowling at what I saw was incredible levels for their ages. Brandon Roberts/Aaron Faulconbridge/Emily and Issy Allen/Jay Goodwin. But they were quite a big YBC at the time with a small number of Coaches as good as the ones they had were. So originally I started as an official (cheerleader) and then with encouragement from people like Alex Hamilton, Richie Reece, Steve Allen and Sharon Faulconbridge took a Coaching Course.

The modern day EBF method with Gravity Led swing and its onus to keep our young athletes healthier with better Body Mechanics just grabbed me and my Coaching started from there. 2 Further Courses online and book education and many years of YBC/Competition/County and then Country Coaching have followed and I still love teaching the basics to new athletes to help them get their first Double or 100 game as well as the intricacies of Ball Movement and Lane Play at the higher levels. It gives me an amazing amount of joy and pleasure and renews my passion every time I coach at any level..

Picking up on back up. Some big name bowlers have recently proved the art is not dead and far from it. Is back up something you still encourage?

Encourage no.. To succeed in the modern game you need revs the more the better if you can repeat the shot. Reverse hook cannot compete at that point with thumb in… Thumb out and 2handed yes it can compete to a certain extent but it is still not as easy an action on the body fingers/wrist specifically as normal hook. Preservation of the health of our younger athletes is paramount. But I am also less resistant than most coaches I suspect and have an innate sense of lines as have rolled them for years.

Before we go much further, where does the name Coach Duddle come from?

So Duddle.
When my youngest niece Kara was very young she couldn’t say Russell so called me Duddle…
Weirdly as she got older my eldest niece and my sister started calling it me.
As all it does is remind me of the love of and for my family I now use it myself including having it on the shirts I used to bowl in…

Describe first finding out you would coach the National Team in an event then actually wearing the shirt?

Shock was the first reaction then a little disbelief and the why me question always… But also an incredible pride in being asked and humility that YTE trusted me with these fantastic athletes. Triple Crown 2019 Blanchardstown Ireland Under 16 Girls team, daunting but through Nationals/Counties I had got used to girls teams so I was sure of myself and my ability to be able to work with them well. Lots of Nerves leading up to it but when we hit the lanes during training and at the actual event the nerves vanished as i had a job to do…

Triple crown is unlike any other event, certainly at Youth level. How was the feeling after you completed that first one in Ireland?

Completely blown away by the event and especially the atmosphere, The Scots and the Irish made us feel welcome and I have great friends in both Countries due to this event and the Junior Irish Open. I have a few posts on FB on which I state Youth Triple Crown for life and I mean it. It was even better this year as I already knew a lot of the Athletes/Coaches and parents and they are fantastic people… I am really looking forward to the Scottish event in 2023 and the atmosphere there.

There are many schools of thought as to what is the most important aspect of coaching, be it the mental game, physical game or just general wellbeing. Which elements of coaching do you feel are the most important?

All of the above to a certain extent but well being above all. We have to take care of our athletes. The parents trust us with them and that is a great honour and a big responsibility.
I try my best to educate all of the athletes I work with at all levels and ages on why we do things and what that changes about the way they or the ball moves.
Positive self talk always I have therefore I can and I will. We win or we learn..
Respect… Athletes never disrespect your parents in front of me, they are the reason you are there. They chauffeur you, pay for you and live every ball you roll with you in the main… Or we will have a conversation 😁

You touch there on coaching Youth and respect for parents and others around them, It can be hard sometimes to guide to where you know they can be and now with added distractions like social media. What’s is a general piece of advice you give all up and coming Youth bowlers in the National squad?

I will put a few here.
Have Respect for yourself and show Respect to those around you.
Enjoy what you are doing and the journey of Bowling, make friends along the way.
You win or you learn both are important.
The one I like to quote comes from Norm Duke when I see a player struggling with emotions after a shot.
You can control only 2 things in the sport once you have released a shot. 1) Your reaction to what happens 2) Your next shot…

A changing sport means changing methods of training, String and Freefall pin action is just a new addition to a long list of factors to contend with on the playing surface and in the equipment. IS String and Freefall the exact same sport up till the ball hits the pins?

All things change, it is the way of the world, not just sport. As a Coach knowledge and practice is paramount to success but so is retaining the fun especially at Youth Level, no matter the level. Make friends enjoy the atmosphere, laugh at bad breaks and always stay positive as an athlete or Coach. It builds those around you…

Strings and Freefall: Is it the same sport before the ball hits the pins to a major extent yes. Swing/Steps/Timing nothing changes, Ball choice/Ball surface on oil pattern and lane surface still the same. But as our YBC is in a String centre at Coventry, I can say the fall and movement of the pins is massively different. Wrap 6 rarely leaves the 10 pin standing as the 6 pin string pulls it over, same with the Wrap 4-7. Messengers have a lot less movement and energy due to the string, some pins that would just fall dont and in general less movement in the entire pin deck. But it would appear to be the way the sport moves currently so we may have to adapt to survive. I hope the sport side stays on Free-fall but only time and the industry will show us that.

A busy year ahead and Youth Team England just releasing their criteria for selection. When watching young bowlers, what things are you looking for in a player?

For me many many things can catch my eye. Scores are rarely part of it, but for those I check consistency of results-Ranking lists- Increase in averages. Anyone can have a good game on any day…
Generally.. A Good Attitude on and off the lanes. Someone who can smile after a bad break. Supportive nature for those around them, Someone who works well within a team.
Bowling wise.. Good Basics and ease of movement almost like they are flowing, Easy Swing with Good Steps-timing, A Solid Foul Line and watching the ball all the way, Good Solid Sparing.

How different is coaching the national team compared to YBC?

The real difference is the level of Athlete and the period of time/pressure. I have some higher level athletes I coach at both YBC and 1-2-1 lessons but those are done after an hour or 2 till next lesson/YBC.

At YTE level at an International competition you are coaching your own athletes whilst they are on the lanes but watching others roll also to see if you can learn anything or support the other Coaches/Athletes.

Then in the evening there are discussions between Coaches and Management as a debrief for the day and a plan for the next. All the time keeping an eye on your team athletes making sure they get their meals at the same time normally with myself both in the evening and the next day Breakfast and that they are happy and okay. Then checking rooms after Curfew to ensure all are where they should be, at EYC these were 12 hour days over 8 days which takes a toll on both them and you.

Away from it all now Russ, what things do you like to do outside of the sport?

I like to Read mainly Authors like David Gemmel, Robert Jordan, Tolkien, High Fantasy genre.
Films of many different Genres from old Black and White To Kill a Mocking Bird to every Marvel movie.
I game on the PC whilst I have the TV or music on Empire Builders or games like Skyrim, Ark

It’s some long hours going to events, what songs and artists get played.

Now this is company dependent..
Solo Journeys Easier listening Adele, Rag and Bone Man, Evanescence
If my Niece and Sister are along anything from the 80’s to Rock Linkin Park, System of a Down, Disturbed, Chilli Peppers, Faith No More etc

Finally Russ, we all wish you well and hope to see more medals flow our way, Let’s leave with a question we ask many people. Why should people try bowling?

It’s fun first and foremost and should always remain something you enjoy doing, it’s easy to pick up the basics to continue to have fun with friends and family but get better. But, as in most things the further you want to go the more you will need to learn and have to push yourself. Challenging yourself is a personal growth thing and should always be done whether at home/work or in sport.

PS: Medals are always in my targets, But keeping my athletes centred/healthy and happy carries more weight to me than the shiny things, this normally leads to medals. Is that a positive or negative? I will let you all decide on that as I am happy with it…

With my utmost respect for your trust with our young athletes.
Coach Duddle (Russ)