Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Checking The Bowling Lane Approaches

One of the most common things that can occur on a bowling lane is someone sticking on the approach. In some of the cases, the person will fall and possibly suffer an injury.

More often than not,
the affected bowler is "snake-bit" and their game is thrown off because they are now tentative on the approach and will lose their rhythm. They either don't recover from the sticking incident and end up bowling a lousy series, or it takes them at least half-a-game or so to get over it. It has happened to me so I know the feeling.

Some sticking injuries I have personally seen are broken ankle, broken arm, broken rib, and numerous bruises on various parts of the body.
When a bowler falls on the lane, there is no predicting what part will hit first.

Even though I'm fully aware and try to be as cautious as I can before my full approach, I have stuck during my bowling sessions. In other words, no matter how cautious one is, sticking on the approaches can happen at any time. 

I see so many bowlers who don't bother to check the approach. I guess they believe that the floors and carpeting in bowling centers are kept clean all the time so they don't have to worry about it. The really serious accidents happen only a small percentage of the time so people, more than likely, don't pay too much attention to it. 

While water, spilt drinks, and food/snacks are the major causes of sticking on the approaches, there are instances when someone perspires and their sweat drips off their body onto the approach.

Anytime I get ready to bowl
, my pre-start routine includes testing the approaches to make sure I can slide properly. Here it is by-the-numbers:

1) Scan the settee and spectator sitting areas for any tell-tale signs of water, popcorn, discarded tape, and powder so that I can clean it up or at least be aware to stay away from the affected area.

2) Make sure both my soles are free of any debris
- water, tape, gunk, etcetera. 

3) Check that my sliding foot, at the foul line, in the area of the middle (large dot) and far-right and far-left portions of the lane approach do not stick.

4) If I walk away from the immediate area of my assigned lanes,
I always check at least the sole of my sliding shoe and, take a quick practice slide on the approach before I take my next shot.

Obsessive Compulsive Behavior? Paranoia? I prefer to think of it as a safety measure that is necessary to prevent an
y chance of injury to myself. I don't think reminding people to check the approaches can be over-emphasized.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bowling Hand & Wrist Positions

Baseball pitchers have different types of pitches they can throw to batters. The batter, in turn, has different positions for holding the bat; as well as varying the way their shoulder faces depending on how far or which side of the field they want the ball to go. It is a continuing duel - one trying to strike out the batter, one trying to get a hit.

Golfers have to learn to vary their hand, shoulder, and swing positions in order to overcome the courses they are playing. Dog-leg right, dog-leg left, which direction the wind is blowing from, and the distance to the hole all play a factor in determining how the golfer will play the hole or course.

In fact, if you look at just about any competitive sport, the best players are the ones who can overcome the different conditions placed before them. They've learned how to choose the right equipment and make adjustments for any obstacle placed in their way. Indoor, outdoor, rain, shine, dirt, asphalt, clay, different grass, wind, no wind, oil, no oil, wood, rubber, synthetic, and on-and-on.

I'm sure you've all heard the announcers mention that a batter is choking up on the bat, a golfer is facing his club head in a certain angle, a tennis player is coming down on the ball with the racquet in order to put back spin on it, and the bowler held the ball with a "broken wrist" grip in order to keep it from hooking so much.

Some of the factors we deal with in bowling are: volume of oil on the lane, length of the oil down the lane, the pattern that is laid down, wood lanes, synthetic lanes, temperature inside the bowling center, and types of balls the other bowlers on the lanes are using. The list could continue for much longer, but, I'm sure you get the point.

With that in mind, here's some tips for the bowler who want to take their game to the next level and who want to bowl consistently regardless of where, or what condition, they bowl under.

This is true regardless of whether you traveling to different bowling centers to compete or, you're in the same bowling center on lanes 1 & 2 or 21 & 22.

This article will cover two position techniques - hand position and wrist position.

Hand Position at your point of release: (references are to the face of a clock, thumb is straight up.)

1) If your thumb is straight up in the 12 o' clock position ) zero degrees) and your fingers are positioned at the 6 o' clock position, your ball will roll with the least hook. Your ball track will be closer to the thumb and finger holes.

2) Practicing with your thumb in the 10 o' clock (15 degrees) and 11 o' clock (30 degrees) positions will round out your ability to develop the hook potential under varying conditions.

2) If your thumb is positioned in the 9 o' clock (45 degrees) position and your fingers are in the 3 o' clock position, your ball will roll with the maximum hook

Wrist position at your point of release: (there are basically three)

1) The "broken" or "weak" position is when you relax your hand so that your thumb is pointing down and your fingers are on top of the ball. This relaxed wrist position makes it difficult for you to put any leverage on the ball, thereby taking revolutions off the ball.

2) The firm wrist position is the more normal position for line (stroker) bowlers.

3) The "cupped" or "cocked" wrist is the most extreme position high revolutions and maximum hook potential.

By practicing with each of the hand and wrist positions, and, combinations of each of them, you should be able to find the position that will work best for you when you enter a strange bowling center.

If you only have one bowling ball and you have four hand positions AND three wrist positions, you could say that you have, effectively, 12 different reactions that are controlled by you.

Keep in mind, though, that there will be a fundamental style that you will be most comfortable with; however, knowing that you can use other adjustments will make you that much of a better bowler.

There are very few bowlers in the modern sport of bowling who can do well in traveling leagues or tournaments with only one bowling ball or one style of bowling.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Walking Routines & My Bowling

Since last September or October, 2016, I've gotten lazy with exercising and gotten out of my walking routines to help with my bowling. That was the time I found out about my clogged Carotid Artery and I decided to "take it easy," because I started worrying about having a stroke or heart attack.

Well, the actual surgery kept getting delayed, and, of course, I kept putting off getting back into my exercise routines. The surgery was finally done in January, 2017 and, having gotten lazy about exercising, I made up typical excuses for not starting back immediately - make sure the scars heal properly, I can't over exert myself right away, etc.

The results are that my bowling is suffering. I am losing my ability to Focus & Concentrate and my Physical Stamina seems to be deteriorating as the days and weeks go by. (I keep forgetting that I'm not a kid anymore and that my "muscle memory" is bordering on Alzheimer's.)

Well, I re-discovered an article I wrote in August, 2010, nearly 7 years ago. My averages had risen to the 210 to 215 range the season before, for the first time in my life.

Now, since I stopped my walking routines, I ended last season in the 203 to 205 range and I'm currently in the 190's for the summer league. After seeing that article again this morning, I immediately went for a one mile walk as a direct start into getting back to exercising. (If I delay anymore, I may keep delaying.)

As always, I write from the standpoint of passing on ideas based on my experiences, and allowing people to build on their own game. These things are working for me; however, I cannot promise that they will work for you.
It's always suggested that you consult with your doctor before entering into any exercise regimen of your own.

Here's the article dated August 28, 2010:

Something I've incorporated into my daily walks has begun to help me with my bowling game and I am really looking forward to the next full season.

I remember reading an article about taking your first step (4-step approach and second step in a 5-step approach) and placing it directly in front of your other foot in order to get their hip out of the way of their arm swing.

So, on my very next 3-mile walk, I began concentrating on placing my steps in front of the other and let me tell you, it was not easy! I kept getting off balance and stumbling in my steps; not to mention the muscles in my legs tightening up.

I kept up with it, though, and it got easier and easier each day. I then noticed that I had to keep my head up as I walked that way and my eyes were focused quite a ways ahead of me.

This got me to thinking about looking at marks (breakpoint sighting, e.g.) further down the lane. I began looking for points of references 10-feet, 15-feet, 1/4-mile, 1/2-mile ahead of me.

Here’s my overall improvements thus far: the three board drift to the right I have always had is gone, my arm swing has begun to get “effortless” and I am able to bowl 10 games with seemingly no effort, my accuracy is improving in that I can see the ball roll over my mark up to 30 feet, and I am posting at the line and holding that post until the ball hits the pins.

Here is my “Choc-List” of my walking and sighting methodology exercises:

1) Walk by placing each step directly in front of the other. This helps keep my posture erect and my shoulders straight. This is also building up my leg muscles and knee strength which can only improve my approach and posting.

2) Look at reference markers at varying distances from where you are and walk in a straight line towards them. (Eventually, you may start seeing a “visible line” directly from the marker back to you.) Try lining up your right and left shoulders, your right and left feet, and the middle of your body to the marker selected. This should help with walking straight on the approach and lining up shots on the lane, and any adjustments that have to be made.

3) I carry a 20 fl oz bottle of water with me (actually, it is an old diet soda bottle) every time I walk. Since I carry it anyway, I use it as a weight for practicing my arm swing, holding it out in front of me, and over my shoulder (switching sides) as well as anything I can think of to build up other muscles with regard to my hands, arms, and wrists.

4) Sometimes, I will vary my walking style, e.g., sideways, backwards, and close my eyes for a while. As I think of other variations, I may try them out for short periods. This should help me with my overall balance as well as being able to walk in a straight line regardless of the situation I am in.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Oil On The Surface Of Bowling Balls

My friend, Perry, asked a great question awhile back. (We do things so habitually that the thought and question had never come up before then.)

The question was, "Why don't we wipe the oil off the ball AFTER EVERY TIME we throw rather than letting it soak into the ball?" That was really a great question that Perry asked.

He explained that when he threw his reactive resin bowling ball, he could visually see the oil on the surface of the ball. He then went ahead and threw his polyurethane spare ball and walked back to sit down. When he came up for his next frame, he looked at his reactive ball and there was virtually no oil on the surface - most of it had soaked in to the ball.

Our habit is to wipe off our bowling balls BEFORE we get ready to throw our strike ball, which, by then, a lot of the oil has soaked into the ball.

On a related note, my girlfriend got her Urethane bowling ball because she didn't care for the way that a reactive resin ball had so much over- and under-reaction as the night of league play progressed. By the third game, the lanes had broken down so much that she couldn't control where her ball went.

Her feeling was that if she got a ball that went straighter all the time, it would be easier to control, especially at her age and ball speed. Since she's been throwing the urethane ball, oil always shows up after every throw.

When we're bowling, nothing may show up on my reactive resin balls; but, hers always tracks oil. When others comment about how the lanes have dried up, she shows them her ball track and they can visibly see how much oil is still on the lane.

There are tons of articles written about oil soaking into bowling balls and how they will affect the reaction of the ball. Over time, the ball can lose its reactive properties and will, essentially, be a useless ball with regards to its effectiveness in cutting through lane oil and giving you the powerful reaction that you want.

There are also tons of hints, tips, and suggestions about how to wash and clean reactive resins in order to keep them in top performing condition. There are recommended periods of time and usage when it is highly important that you re-vitalize your ball and get all the oil removed from its "innards."

Incidentally, for about three weeks, I made an effort to wipe my reactive resin bowling ball after my first ball (which I always did anyway); but, I would stand at the ball return and wipe my ball AFTER MY SECOND THROW.

Well, that only caused a "traffic jam" because I was constantly in the way of the next person coming up to bowl. Which, of course, delayed our bowling progress such that we were always the last teams to finish competition.

For practical reasons, I had to stop trying to wipe my bowling balls after each throw because no one else was in the same frame of mind as me. I had to resign myself to doing the best I could to minimize the oil soaking into the ball between shots.

So it's come down to the fact that we're not going to be able to prevent all of the oil from being soaked into the ball; but, we should do our utmost to keep the "soaking in" to the minimum amount possible.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Becoming Better Bowling Students

We need to become better bowling students. The problem is that we're trying to get our games to come together quickly because we have to bowl in leagues all week. We need to step back and begin to practice in the right way until we actually get each piece correct and then put it all together.

I was told at age 15 that I should learn “timing” first - out on one, down on two, back on three, and through on four (4-step approach). The problem was, I became very mechanical with this type of thought process and it didn't matter how good my “timing” was if my “release” was all out of whack.

So, I concentrated on my “release,” which really helped me to be more consistent, but I lacked “power,” because my “timing” got thrown off and I couldn’t get into a very good “leverage” position. I suppose this is why I eventually started "muscling" the ball, forcing my body to be in the right position at the right time.

Now. I've gone to a Free Swing and suddenly, “timing” means a lot more, but so does my “release.” So, I've now come to the conclusion that “timing” and “release” should have equal weight of importance. However, trying to get both right at the same time may not be so easy.

I think Brian Voss has it right. Get the “timing” correct first, but do so by breaking it up into segments. Right now we’re still trying to work on what he says ALL AT THE SAME TIME. We’re finding that getting our games to a higher level difficult and confusing at times.

Why do we find it so hard to follow the instructions of the "Master" and do what he asks us to do? I believe it's because of bad habits we’ve developed over time. We have the tendency to want things to happen “overnight.“ We’ve become poor students when it comes to learning new and different things. There are no “quick fixes.”

Therefore, here’s how I think we should proceed (4-step approach, but for 5-steps, it’s the 2nd step, for 6-steps, the 3rd, and so forth):

Segment 1 - Get the first step and swing correct before anything else;

Segment 2 - Get the first two steps and swing correct;

Segment 3 - Get the Power Step correct;

Segment 4 - Get the Finish correct correct;

Segment 5 - Get them all together into one continuous and flowing approach.

Then, and only then, can we can work on releases and ball speeds, and whatever else we feel would improve our game. If we attempt to fine tune our bowling without getting a firm, solid foundation of the basics, we’ll be setting new techniques on shaky ground and not really be improving anything.

In between leagues, at home or on the lanes at practice, we need to get each step correct piece-by-piece. I feel that Segment 1, above, seems to be the most critical and that‘s why Brian Voss begins his elite training classes that way. If you get that one right, then the rest of the segments, should follow.

Practice, practice, practice - at home, at the office, or on the lanes; but, get the First Step and Swing in the right position so it becomes second nature instead of trying each night in league to get all the steps right.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

When Do You Stop Changing Your Bowling Game?

"When we are through changing, we are through." -Bruce Barton-
My close bowling friends and I are continuously looking for ways to improve our bowling. We enjoy the ride we're taking, and we invite everyone to come join us. Along this journey, people are constantly climbing on and jumping off. Some get tired of all the changes and some just get satisfied with the level they attain. Whatever their reasons, I'm certain they learned something while they rode with us. Also, I'd venture to say that their games have improved to some degree.

Everyone knows and understands that the sport of bowling is in constant flow. The equipment is continuously being improved and new technologies are being introduced, literally, on a daily basis. Much the same as our lives, change is always happening and we need to roll with those changes.

What's the result if we remain static? Well, honestly, "...we're through." We all have dreams and I'm not sure what my friend's dreams are. But, whatever our personal reasons, I'd say the common theme would be, "To feel good about our bowing."

This doesn't necessarily mean to score better; but rather, to know that everything felt good "all the time." Over the past several years, we've felt good here-and-there, but never have we been able to say, "My form feels good all the time."

Does that mean that if we get to that point, the dream will stop and we'll give up changing? I don't think so. I think we are of the same ilk and we believe that our dreams about our bowling will be ever-evolving and ever-shifting.

Does that mean we'll never be satisfied with our game? I think so. I think we are of the same ilk that we believe there will always be something to learn and improve upon as we continue to bowl.

The equipment - bowling balls, lanes, and conditioners are going to keep changing and improving. Why should we be satisfied with staying within a certain sandbox all the time? There's still so much to learn about this fascinating game of bowling.

The moment we set our sights on mastering a technique, we discover another, more skillful way to do things. The challenges to us will be to keep studying so that we uncover that one finer point beyond where we're at.

I don't believe it's in any of our nature's to be satisfied with a "static" bowling game. From our standpoint, that would be a "boring" way to bowl.

What's the rewards? Our nights of bowling are never dull.

The lanes might be tough, but, we always have that "one more thing to try." We might hit on the best way to play the lanes that night or we might not; however, it's not for the lack of trying. If we didn't find the shot, we went down fighting.

Our averages may not be improving as quickly as we want them to; however, when we look back on our journey, we have to admit that there has been marked improvement.

A JOURNEY - I feel that's what my friends and I are on. A bowling journey to keep bettering our methods and keep improving our styles.

When we, in the future, are forced to give up our changing, we'll be able to say. "We may be through, but it wasn't for lack of trying something new."

The journey's been great and it's still continuing. Don't stay in the same place. Learn, discover, try something new.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Working On Your Bowling Problems with Larry

My buddy, Larry, hits the nail on the head again. He certainly puts things in perspective when he emails me. Here's his latest recommendation ---


First, picture me hitting my forehead with the palm of my hand like, "I should have had a V8," as I say, “STUPID, STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!!” (Yes, that's right, 4 times "Stupid!")

For years now, I've identified the fact that the reason I constantly fight my ball "over-hooking" is because of lack of ball speed. I've been talking and talking and talking about my slow ball speed and the problems it causes, right?

So now, picture me scratching my beard lightly as I say, "Hmmmmm, I have a ball speed problem so ... I know, 'LET’S WORK ON THE POWER RELEASE,' 'No wait, let’s change my body position,' 'Ah, what the hell, I read something about walking one foot in front of the other, so let’s work on that,' 'No, wait, wait, wait, let’s just try to throw the ball flatter, that will do it.'"

What a surprise(?) - none of these things helped me to throw the ball faster.

Now, picture me with a really stupid look on my face as I say, “Let’s see, if I have a ball speed problem, wait, don’t tell me …………………………I know, I think I should work on my BALL SPEED?!!!!!”

The reason my brain finally kicked in gear is because of watching a fellow bowler practicing the other day and seeing him turn his hand early, which pulled the ball left (Right-Hander). He was trying to fix the problem by working on getting a higher backswing.

I knew that he had no idea he was turning the ball early so I quickly went over and told him. (That's so he would not continue to look in the wrong area for the solution). What a concept - SOLVE THE PROBLEM BY WORKING ON THE PROBLEM.

Therefore, just like this fellow bowler, you have to work on the problem in the right way.

To get more ball speed you can change the height of your swing, but this also requires changing your timing.

You can accelerate your armswing, but that can cause early pull and you can only do so much with just your arm.

But, there is one thing that you can do to not only can create more ball speed, but it'll loosen up your armswing at the same time - that's by creating more momentum to the line with your feet.

When I watch videos of myself I say, “Wow, I look like I'm walking through mud." Can anybody say, “HINT,” please?

Well, I have finally taken the hint and "speeded up my feet" and lo and behold, I've stopped the ball from over hooking without having to try to throw a flat release.

Now, picture me thanking myself for FINALLY getting it. "Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Larry!" (Yes, that's right, 4 times "Thank You.")




(Thanks, Larry, for your insight as always .... Choc)