Saturday, April 29, 2017

You Gotta Bowl The Current Conditions

In the final frame of the title match of a televised PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) match, Pete Weber muttered, "Oh, man, stupid, try to play (the lanes) the way I played all week instead of what was out there now," as he was losing. The words may not be exact, but, I think you get the point.

How many times have people come to you and said things like, "I practiced here last week and shot 250;" "During the practice, I was throwing nothing but strikes;" or "The last time I bowled here, I really scored well."

Actually, how may times have you felt that way? It's not to say that there may be times when you'll be able to play the same lines and targets day-after-day or week-after-week. The odds are, however, that you may have to make some adjustments - be it changing balls, hand positions, or your line/target - to keep hitting the 1-3 pocket consistently so your scores don't look like a roller coaster when graphed.

Once, I subbed on the Monday night league and shot 257-236-213 for 706; but, I tried to maintain the same ball and same target throughout.

To paraphrase Pete Weber, "Oh, man, stupid, try to play the lanes the same as the First game instead of playing what was out there in the Second, and then the Third games."

Three days later, subbing in the Thursday night league, using the same theory, I shot 175-189-224 for 588 - "Oh, man, stupid, try to play (the lanes) the way I played Monday night instead of what was out there Thursday."

Would I have shot better had I made some changes? Perhaps, but, I might not have done any worse, I think; but, we'll never know because I didn't make the adjustment(s) that were needed to get the ball to the pocket strongly and consistently.

The point is, the lanes will change and you cannot expect that every time you come to bowl, the conditions will be the same. The variables are too numerous to mention here; but, they range from the types of balls being used by the other bowlers on the lanes to the temperature inside the bowling center from one side of the house to the other. Remember the saying, "the only thing that doesn't change is change?" Well, change will surely take place as you bowl so you have to get used to it.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that the amount of adjustment that must be made is not an exact science. In other words, no one can throw a few balls and be able say exactly how many boards, which of your bowling balls, or what position your wrist must be in to throw strikes more effectively.

That's why no one is dominating the PBA Tour; and, that's why, although you have your high average bowlers where you bowl, they do not bowl the highest scores day-after-day and week-after-week. Sometimes they guess right and sometimes they don't.

Just keep in mind that one of the keys to raising your average is to become flexible in making adjustments when the lane conditions seem different to you. So you don't like the fact that your ball is breaking earlier on the lane than you would prefer it to? - ADJUST!

You gotta play the current conditions the way they are and not the way it was the last time you bowled on them. When in doubt, refer back to what Pete Weber said in paragraph one, above.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Senior Bowling Observations - Discussion #4

Here’s Discussion #4 in a nutshell:

"On a 38-foot to 41-foot length oil pattern, if you throw your ball and it rolls over the '8-board at the outer marker,' your ball will hit the pocket."

For ease of discussion, I generalize the following:

(1) The "outer marker" is the dark-colored, three foot mark, on the 10-board, 40 to 43 feet from the foul line on many modern, synthetic lanes.

(2) What I refer to as the "8-board at the outer marker;" is actually the broader 6-board to 9-board area.

(3) This applies to oil patterns between 38 feet to 41 feet.

For the past three to four years, I've advocated an aiming point based on articles I've read and, by closely watching / studying videos of national and international bowlers and events.

Recently, my observations were validated while watching a broadcast of a bowling event and the technical commentator made a statement to the effect of, "spray painting the 8-board at the 40 to 43 foot outer marker on the lanes, so that everyone would aim there and at least hit the pocket, giving themselves a better chance to strike."

This doesn't mean the bowler has to target 41 feet down the lane. (More power to you if you can, but, bowlers like me have a difficult time seeing that far down the lane.)

Let's factor in the "3-point Targeting" theory (By USBC Gold Coach Joe Slowinski) to illustrate how to fine tune where a bowler can aim. (Keep in mind that every bowler has to take any hints and/or suggestions and tailor them to suit their style of bowling.)

What I utilize is a “modified 3-point targeting system."

For example, if I'm using the 12-board at the arrows, I look at the 8-board at the 40 to 43 foot marker as I get into my starting stance, then bring my eyes down to the 12-board at the arrows just before starting my approach.

If I'm targeting the 10-board at the arrows, I sight down lane to the 8-board, then bring my eyes to the 10-board at the arrows, and so forth.

Some of my friends have told me that they target down lane, then at the arrows, and finally end up sighting at a mid-way point between the down lane marker and the arrows as they start their approach.

This method of getting to the pocket will work regardless of whether the bowler is launching the ball from the 5 board, the 15 board, or the 35 board. Just make sure the ball gets to the “8-board at the outer marker,” and the ball will get to the pocket.

As to why the ball won’t strike every time, the reader needs to keep in mind the parameters necessary for a “perfect pocket strike:”

a) The ball enters the pocket at the 17-1/2 board with less than 1/8-inch discrepancy;

b) The ball has an entry angle of 6 degrees;

c) The ball makes contact with only the 1, 3, 5, and 9 pins.

I heard a great term recently, “Eliminating Variables.”

To wit: “The entire game of bowling is based on eliminating as many variables as possible.”

I think hitting the pocket consistently may eliminate a large part of the variables a bowler is faced with in any given game at any given time.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Senior Bowling Observations Discussion #3

Special Note: In both the (Senior) PBA50 and PWBA events on Xtra Frame, there is a Central Commentator but, throughout the telecast, actual participating bowlers "drop by" to give their input and insights about a myriad of technical aspects and subject matter that are of, and might be of, concern to bowlers competing in the event. This, in turn, helps me (and perhaps, you?) with my THS (Typical House Shot) game.

Why do I watch and listen to the Seniors/PWBA events and technical commentating closely? It's very simple.

IMHO, the Seniors/Ladies closely resemble my style and type of bowling - that is, they have more "strokers" than "crankers," and they tend to have less "revs" than the Regular Touring PBA Men do.

As a matter of fact, I'd venture to say that, as a Senior bowler, I have nothing to learn from watching the physical game of the Regular PBA Tour.

Here's some of the subjects the Senior's/Ladies are talking about and I've picked up on:

1) Exercise and keeping physically fit. This is mentioned and talked about a lot more during the Senior's PBA and PWBA events. The necessity for a regular exercise program. Walking, jogging, physical fitness rooms, pre-bowling stretching routines, and healthy diets.

I've always done a minimal amount of pre-bowling stretching and walking; however, I've recently started using 3-lbs weights to bolster my arms, legs, and wrists.

I'm slowly building an exercise regimen and routine that will help me with my overall bowling.

2) Launch Angles. For the past 3-4 weeks, I've been working with this on my own and it's yielded some good results for me; especially since I don't have to make any drastic and/or radical moves right away.

Launch Angle Bowling Tips

Adjustments and Launch Angle

When accuracy and spare-making are of prime importance, a bowler cannot afford to "lose" the pocket. Making large moves may not be advantageous at all.

Even though we bowl mostly on THS conditions, accuracy and spare-making should still be of prime importance so "minor" moves may be better than drastic ones.

This has helped me on several occasions already this young season. Rather than change bowling balls right away, I've moved my eyes and it was all the adjustment I needed.

4) Asymmetric versus Symmetric bowling ball cores. I picked up on this during an Xtra Frame broadcast. I did some research and found that it is a general concensus among elite bowlers, although it's a subject that's not widely discussed.

I guess that goes along with a lot of other subjects that are good for your game; but, not openly discussed often enough - Posting your shot, free armswing, exit point strategy, and so forth.

In a nutshell: 1) asymmetric cores are good for "strokers" and lower rev bowlers; 2) symmetric cores are better for "crankers" and higher rev players.

If a recommendation were to be made, a "stroker" (which most of us Senior bowlers tend to be) building an arsenal would have 80% Asymmetrics in their bag. Nothwithstanding the requisite combination of Reactive Resin, Hybrid, Urethane, Pin-up drilling, pin-down drilling, and various other surfaces/drillings to suit your particular style.

Carolyn Dorin Ballard used the term, "Bump Area," during the PWBA Tour Championships. This is only my guess, but, she's probably referring to the area on the lane where the ball encounters friction and starts turning left, making its run to the pocket. In a typical conversation with my coach, we talk about "banking" the ball off the dry so that it comes back to the pocket with more energy.

A comment here concerning the Storm Crux. (Different bowlers may have different results depending on their style of bowling. There's just too many products out there to make a statement that, "one size fits all." I'm merely relating my experience with the Pearl Crux.)

I watched the original video and they described the design of the core, and it gave me the impression that the core is meant to "auto-correct" mistakes we make in our deliveries. I finally broke down, saved up my money, and bought the Pearl Crux three weeks ago.

Storm Cux(TM) - Ball Technology

I'm extremely happy with the ball and I'm carrying hits that were not carrying for me previously. My frustration with taps have been non-existent since I got the ball. Needless to say, I'm saying to myself, "Why did I wait so long to get it?"

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Senior Bowling Observations - Discussion #2

Here are some observations I've made watching bowling and listening to the technical commentaries ("Seniors" refers to both Men and Women, unless otherwise specified):

1) The Seniors continuing to do better, as opposed to "okay," have shortened their
approach. They have moved to the 12-foot line or shorter.

2) The Seniors doing well have adapted their release so they are "behind" the ball
rather than coming "around" the ball. (Note that all up-and-coming stars come out
of the ball "behind" and "below the equator," at their release point.)

3) The term, "hand," does not mean "lifting" or "kicking" up on the ball anymore. It
means, having better control of the ball at the release point.

4) The Seniors doing better, i.e. "Winning," have minimized their bowling ball "Flare."

5) The Seniors doing better still have excellent control of their ball speed and are able
to adjust faster or slower as the conditions dictate.

How do you feel about these observations?

As a side note, one of the commentators used the term, "Eliminating Variables," which
I thought was a good summary of what we're trying to do when we bowl. We will all
bowl our best games/series when we've 'eliminated all the variables" that attempt to
make us bowl lousy.

It was mentioned on one of the PWBA broadcasts that Diana Zavjalova said that Weber
International University uses the term, "Copy-and-Paste" when they talk about "repeating
the shot." When someone does everything according to the text book, they tell that
person to, "Copy-and-Paste" that shot.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Senior Bowling Observations - Discussion #1

I've been watching a lot o LIVE bowling broadcasts over the past
several weeks, mostly Xtra Frame. I have come to really like the
technical commentating and find that the subscription is well
worth it.

I have compiled a list of interesting points for discussion so I'm
going to be bringing them up starting today. When we've exhausted
the subject, then I'll bring on the next.

So, let's begin with the first one: (normal oil conditions - i.e., not
"burn" or extreme oil conditions.)

POINT: The layout and core of the bowling ball has an effect
on the ball merely for the purposes of shaping the shot.

REASONING: The three phases of a ball's travel down the
lanes are - Skid, Hook, Roll.

During the Skid Phase, nothing can effect the ball because it's, well,
skidding. This is the first part of the lane (for want of a better term,
we'll just continue to use, "Heads.")

During the Hook Phase, the coverstock has the most effect because
the ball is attempting to stop the skid - this is the middle part of the
lane ("mids").

During the Roll Phase, the core and layout come into play because
friction is present and the ball is now making its run to the pocket.
(This is the last "XX Feet" that is not oiled, "Backends.").

What is your feeling on the POINT/REASONING, above?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Thinking Small For Bigger Results

I keep emphasizing to all my students about focusing on the "Process" rather than the score of the game they're bowling.

I tell them over-and-over, "If you keep your mind on the 'Process' rather than the score, you'll eventually shoot higher games and raise your average."

I've proven it to them time and time again and you can prove it to yourself, too.

When we have a coaching session, we never keep score (although the automatic scorer will do so, anyway) and I tell the student not to look up at the projection.

We're here to work on fundamentals, I remind then, and those games are the least of our concerns at this time.

However, at the end of the session, I'll do a recap of the games bowled (usually three) and show them the results.

In pretty much all the cases, the resultant totals are surprising to the student.

If you were to do the same thing during your own practice time, I feel sure you'd get the same, surprising results.

I'm merely breaking down their goal into little mini-steps so they can achieve successes along the way to attaining their main objective, which might be, for example, a higher average.

As they see improvements with each point of the "Process," it gives them the satisfaction and motivation to keep trying to improve their bowling game.

If, for example, we were to focus entirely on the results, which is, let's say, a 200 average, what do you think each practice session and each league night would be like?

I think it would be nothing but frustration and disappointment. I'm sure you don't need a long explanation to see that what I say is true.

Now, let's say we concentrate on the little mini-steps necessary for them to get to that level.

As each step is accomplished, they'll be able to see positive results and therefore, be able to feel good about their results.

They'll feel that they're accomplishing something and be willing to keep on persevering.

1) Small, measurable changes. These are within anyone's current abilities and are easily measured because the person can feel a shift in the way they're delivering the ball down the lane.

2) Small, continuous advancements. If you focus on the end result, you'll more than likely lose enthusiasm and give up because the longer you go without seeing continuous advancements, the easier it'll be for you to throw up your hands in frustration. Any advancement, even small ones, give a feeling of accomplishment, which gives you the drive to continue on.

3) Small, focused adjustments. As you make your small and continuous advancements, you'll find that your ability to focus on each aspect of the "Process" will become sharper and sharper. You'll be able to "feel" when you're about to commit an error and you'll be able to make the necessary correction before you release the bowling ball, thereby minimizing the mistake.

4) Small goals equals large results. Push yourself, little by little. Use whatever cliche necessary to keep yourself centered on the "Process" rather than the result. Build on the skill set you currently have, improve them, then build on that set of skills, and so on, and so on.

The results you achieve in the long-term will be much larger than even you thought they'd be.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bowling: The Sport That's An Exact Science?

"All exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation." -Bertrand Russell

There is a mindset that tends to prevail in the bowling world.

This may be what's working against me and preventing me from getting to the next level of my game.

Try recalling the bowling conversations you've had recently and tell me that this mindset hasn't dominated the talk.

Here's the mindset: "Everything is exact."

Here's the statements:

"I hit my mark exactly where I wanted to."

"I threw the ball exactly the same way as I did last frame."

"The ball hit the pocket exactly where it's supposed to be for a strike."

Now, let's see, we tend to believe that we're doing the same thing over and over on the bowling lanes; yet, we can't sign our signature exactly the same way each time?

We think we're hitting a board "dead on" when it's approximately 1.0641025 inches wide and we're throwing a ball that has a diameter of 8.500 to 8.595 inches?

We're looking at our mark from a distance of 11 to 12 feet away (if you're aiming for the arrows) looking down at the mark from however tall you are.)

We're falling all over the place so our release is not coming from a stable platform?

And, our head is bouncing around as we lurch up, down, forward, or side-ways?

The point I'm trying to make is that we're not as exact as we like to think we are.

In fact, there are no exacts in the sport of bowling nor in the world, exactly.

Which brings me to this article's "Choc-List" when you can't seem to strike and must make adjustments:

1) IT'S NOT YOU. When you're stringing strike after strike, "everything" falls. It's not because you're throwing every shot exactly the same, each-and-every-time. It means you're in the "sweet spot" for this game, series, or this moment. If you start leaving single pins, the spot has moved (or you never were in the correct spot in the first place.) Move, because It's not you.

2) MOVE MORE THAN ONE BOARD. Depending on who's on the lanes with you, what line they're playing, and what types of balls they're using, the lanes will change differently. One board of change may not be enough to overcome the amount of oil depletion that's occurred. If it doesn't work, you can always move back or somewhere else.

3) THE LINE CHANGES AFTER EVERY BALL. Even if you're the only bowler on the lane, your reactive resin ball will be taking oil off the lane surface or moving it around after every throw. If you're using a plastic or urethane ball, oil still comes off although at a slower pace. Anyway, expect the lane to change after every ball thrown.

4) IT MIGHT WORK NOW. If you tried something in practice or earlier in the match, don't discount trying it again later in the game or series. There are no definitive studies about how a lane will play after oil depletion. 16 people will have 16 different reactions. It might not have worked earlier but, it might work now.

This is the exact end, approximately.

See you on the lanes.