by Faye Rapoport
2001 Professional Women’s Bowling Association Player of the Year Carolyn Dorin-Ballard has been bowling since the tender age of six, devoting years of hard work to achieving success as a high school, college and professional bowler.
Supported by a bowling family in her hometown of Linden, New Jersey, Dorin-Ballard’s junior career included three years with the Linden High School varsity team and Junior Bowler of the Year honors as a ninth grader.
In 1986 she accepted a partial bowling scholarship to West Texas State University, where she led her team to the national championship in 1987 and 1988 and was a three-time All-American, earning MVP honors at the Intercollegiate Bowling Championships in 1989.
Dorin-Ballard joined the PWBA Tour in 1990, and won the 1991 Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour National Doubles title with top ‘80s bowler Lisa Wagner.
A decade of training and hard work followed, with the help of Dorin-Ballard’s husband, PBA Hall of Famer Del Ballard Jr. She won her first singles title at the Lady Ebonite Classic in 1994.
A breakout year in 2001 put Dorin-Ballard’s stamp firmly on the bowling map. She won a record-tying seven events and posted a Tour-best 214.73 scoring average on her way to becoming the PWBA Player of the Year. She was also named the Bowler’s Journal International Person of the Year, Player of the Year by the Bowling Writers Association of America and Bowling Digest, the New Jersey Sports Writers Association’s Bowler of the Year, and Female Bowler of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, OH.
Dorin-Ballard took time out of her busy schedule to answer Foot.com’s questions about her training regimen, the foot soreness that many bowlers experience and bowlers’ very specific footwear needs.
Foot.com: First, congratulations on your successful career and your many honors in bowling. When discussing foot care with a bowler, the first thing that comes to mind is the unique style of bowling shoes. Can you tell us why bowling shoes are designed the way they are, and what is important in a good bowling shoe?
Dorin-Ballard: Bowling shoes are designed with different soles and heels to give the bowler a different slide. Your basic bowling center shoe has a sole and heel that are for sliding. This is because beginning bowlers don’t notice the approaches as much.
Professional bowlers have to combat two different types of approaches, wood approaches and synthetic. There are two types of shoes the majority of ladies use, Linds and Dexters. Dexter shoes are known for their inter-changeable soles and heels. Linds just started to make different soles. What this allows us to do is put the correct combination together to create the slide we need. Approaches have a tendency to be either slippery, which would mean you need a sole and heel that does not slide as much and grips the approach more, or they are tacky, which means you need a sole and heel that allows you to slide more freely on the approach. This is very important because approaches in centers vary because of air-conditioning, weather outside, etc.
I would say that a proper bowling shoe is just as important as a properly fitting bowling ball.
Foot.com: Do bowlers have to be concerned about any particular type of foot injuries related to the sport?
Dorin-Ballard: I don’t think we have any particular foot injuries, but I do know that because we slide or step into our finish position, calluses do occur on the balls of our feet. The one thing we do find is that depending on the approaches, most bowlers’ feet have a tendency to get sore. We are constantly sliding for five to six days in a row on a hard surface, so pedicures or foot massages are definitely in order.
Foot.com: Have you personally experienced any foot injuries related to bowling, or outside of bowling?
Dorin-Ballard: I have not had any foot injuries, knock on wood, but I do receive massages and pedicures periodically to keep the soreness away.
Foot.com: What kind of general exercise or training do you do outside of bowling to stay in shape?
Dorin-Ballard: I myself work out five days a week when I’m at home. I do cardio every day, and weights four times a week. I do the usual workout of arm/back one day, legs, shoulders/chest another. It really helps to build strength and stamina. We might bowl up to 100 games a week and your legs have to be strong, and you have to be able to bowl for 4-5 hours straight during competition. That’s where the stamina comes into play.
Foot.com: Do you do any specific leg or foot strengthening exercises?
Dorin-Ballard: I stretch everyday, and do weight training when we are off the tour. While on the tour, I try to walk everyday or at least 4 days a week to keep my legs loose and fit.
Foot.com: Are the right socks also important in bowling?
Dorin-Ballard: Socks are a personal preference. I like a thicker sock because it is more comfortable to me and my shoe feels more snug on my foot, so I have a better feel.
Foot.com: Do you have an everyday foot care regimen that keeps your feet healthy?
Dorin-Ballard: I don’t really have an everyday foot care system, but again, those foot massages are a must.
Foot.com: Thank you for your time, and best of luck in your continued career!