New partnership aims to grow youth bowling.
Declining youth bowlers in organized play has been a significant concern for most bowling operators for decades. To attract the next generation of bowlers, we need to start young! The key to a better future for the industry is to turn casual youth players into lifelong participants in bowling through leagues and other forms of competition. And that's precisely what a new partnership between Storm Bowling, the premier producer of performance bowling balls, and BBBI, operators of the Kids Bowl Free program, aim to do. Storm Bowling and Kids Bowl Free have joined forces to launch the Bowling Industry Growth (BIG) movement. The BIG campaign will kick off this year with the Storm Xperience, a program designed to help younger bowlers improve their skills, earn rewards, feel part of a welcoming community, and add a fun, new element to their lives.
Bowling is not just a game. It's a community of fun-loving individuals who enjoy friendly competition and striking up new friendships," said Gary Hulsenberg, vice president of marketing for Storm Bowling. "We realize that by combining our unique skill sets and assets, we can turn casual, infrequent bowlers into enthusiasts that will play the game as a sport."
For 16 years, the Kids Bowl Free (KBF) program has introduced millions of children to our great game. While several KBF centers have consistently progressed KBF kids into their youth programs, other center operators have been asking for help doing so. The new BIG movement has been designed to accelerate the number of young bowlers embracing the sport at a higher level. We feel the unique and interactive elements built into this program will engage youth casual players, educate them and their parents about the sport, and result in a higher number wanting more participation," said Bruce Davis, president of BBBI.
The Storm Xperience 2024
Providing more emphasis on bowling as a sport is an essential element of the Storm Xperience, which will be offered at no charge to the more than three million Kids Bowl Free (KBF) bowlers annually. Parents of KBF participants will be reminded to log their child's scores on an app that will track their performance and generate a KBF average while establishing a baseline from which they can improve. Future youth opportunities are in the works to encourage additional and more in-depth sport involvement.
Coaching Help on the Way
Storm Bowling will be providing a unique service not just to these newly minted bowlers but to staff-strapped centers as well. One of the biggest hurdles proprietors face in moving younger players to the next level is a need for more coaches and staff who are trained and available to help with that transition. The Storm Xperience will bring unique tools and new technology to deliver virtual bowling lessons and personalized tips for young bowlers to view at home or while on the lanes. To make the experience even more relatable for kids in the program, these lessons will be given by members of the Evolution Team, a group of Storm's staff youth bowlers from around the country who have an unbridled enthusiasm for the sport. These athletes have been chosen based on their success on the lanes, involvement in community service, and ability to encourage and help kids like them take the next step. They'll show there's more to bowling than just casual games, including the possibility of joining middle and highschool teams and accessing millions of dollars in college scholarship funds. Storm will provide more in-depth instruction from their roster of sponsored pro tour bowlers, like Jason Belmonte, Kyle Troup, Verity Crawley, and Danielle McEwan.
More Visits to Centers This Year and Beyond
Over the years, KBF has sought ways to keep these burgeoning young bowlers returning to centers for more organized competition. The BIG movement aims to facilitate that goal and improve organized play business with this multiyear investment in the future of the sport.
KBF centers will receive point-of-sale and other materials that direct families to log their scores on each visit; parents will also be reminded electronically each time their child goes bowling through the KBF program. Bowlers will be entered into prize giveaways that Storm provides whenever a score is recorded.
"Both companies are committed to this effort as a multiyear investment that will provide a consistent flow of youth gravitating to the sport side of our game annually. The unique assets of Storm and Kids Bowl Free, and the shared commitment to the goal, should benefit the industry for years to come," said Davis.
The 2024 rollout is just the beginning. Plans for future growth, additional opportunities, and new ways to connect with tomorrow's bowlers are already in the works from the BIG movement. Stay tuned to IBI for further details about this exciting endeavor to grow bowling.
For more information, contact Bruce Davis at BBBI (239)389-9583 or Gary Hulsenberg at Storm Bowling (435)720-7308.