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 ---

Choc,

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.")

WORK ON THE REAL PROBLEM AND WORK ON IT IN THE RIGHT WAY!!

BETTER YET, GO TO A GOOD COACH!!!

Larry

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

Dubious Bowling Records Not To Try For

"Hey, bruddah, what can you do after you have just completed the worst night ever of bowling?" Myron the Muse is not really asking me for advice. He is just lamenting about his seemingly "poor" night of league bowling. "Okay, so what kind of a night was it?," I ask.

"Well, let me tell you, he says; in the first game, I blow the 4-pin in the last frame and we lose by two pins."

"In the second game, I manage to shoot a 200, and we win by several pins; but, in the last game, I shot a 114 ….. (a 114!) … and we win by one pin."

"Wait a minute, that means that your team won the overall because you won two games and must have gotten the series total. Isn't that correct?" "Well, yes, but my performance was really terrible," the Muse whines.

As I see it brother, there's nothing you can do about it because it is gone, in the past, and you cannot re-do that night of bowling again. Just suck it up and get on with your life because as unfortunate as the time was, it might not have been your last "worst-ever game or series."

And with that, I mention to him another "Choc-List" of dubious and odd ABC (now USBC) records. If you feel bad about your own scores, consider that you don't want to be immortalized as follows:

1) In 1971, the lowest score ever recorded in league competition was rolled. Eighteen gutter balls and two 1-pin counts.

2) Were you one of the "fortunate" ones to have witnessed the 1991 nationally televised final of the PBA tour when all the pro needed was a 7-count and threw the ball in the gutter?

3) Between 1965 and 1967, the longest losing streak was recorded and reported for posterity - 120 straight losses. No mention of who they beat to end the streak.

4) Bowling in her first LPBT (Ladies Professional Bowlers Tour) event, this woman record setter bowled a 300 game in her very first game as a pro. For the next 17-games of qualifying, she failed to break 200 and ended up in last place.

Unless you are on the way to shooting a score of zero, or are rolling nothing but gutter balls, you won't be (I hope) close to setting any dubious record(s).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bowling Lane Marks You Can Use For Targeting

It's really surprising how many bowlers don't know much more than. "aim for the second arrow." That's the reason one of the first things I teach my students are the marks on the lane with regard to targeting. More than just a few of them have told me that they never realized the second arrow was actually placed on the 10th board of the lane and that there were other places they could be aiming and lining up their bowling ball. That knowledge alone has helped many of them to improve their scores.

If you are in the category of merely aiming for the second arrow, then this "Choc-List" is for you:

1) There are seven elongated triangles (commonly referred to as "arrows") on the lane. From both the right and left gutters, they are placed on the 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th boards. The 1st arrows are 15 feet from the foul line and the 4th arrow is 17 feet from the foul line.

2) Always keep in mind that there are boards between the arrows and that experienced bowlers will talk in terms of, and aim for example, the 7th board, the 13th board, or the 17th board, among others.

3) 7-1/2 feet from the foul line are a series of five dots, again from the left and the right gutters, that sit on the 3rd, 5th, 8th, 11th, and 14th boards. Note that the only dot that lines up with an arrow is the one on the 5th board (1st arrow).

4) The dots on the approach are the foul line dots, the first line dots (12 feet from the foul line), and the second line dots (15 feet from the foul line). The dots on the approach all line up with the boards that the arrows are on.

5) On some newer synthetic lanes, you may see a series of elongated markings farther down the lane. These are referred to as, "range finders," "breakpoint markers," or simply, "down lane markers." The inner set of markers are in line with the 3rd Arrow or 15-board; while the outer set are in line with the 2nd Arrow or 10-board.

NOTE: Insider Tip - On an oil pattern length of between 38 feet and and 41 feet in length, "If the ball passes through the 6 to 9 board at the outer marker, your ball will go in the pocket;" and, in the USA, the great majority of pattern lengths is within that range.

6) A couple of other "things" you can aim for are the seams of the panels (synthetic lanes) and any board or spot in-between (an imaginary marking that you create) the obvious dots and arrows.

In lining up your bowling shot, remember that you can use a single, a series, or a combination of, these markings.

Remember too, that you can throw your ball directly at, out to, or inward at, the marking(s) you have selected as the target you are aiming for.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bowling, Baloney Popping, and Whales Exploding

A piece of baloney (bologna) I was frying exploded on me! I got slight burns from the oil splatter and pieces of it flew all over me and the kitchen. I found, and continue to find, pieces in every crevice there is (or so it seems). There was a very audible "popping" sound and I know it was loud because my girlfriend in the other room came running out to see what had happened. We immediately started laughing and I continued to laugh through the tedious clean up period. I still chuckle each time the incident comes into mind.

There are good baloney explosions and there are bad baloney explosions, it's a matter of how you treat them.

The other night, we happened to catch a documentary about an exploding whale in Japan. It sparked one of those moments where she looked at me, I looked at her, and we just started laughing uncontrollably for what seemed like 5 minutes or more. It was painful to the stomach. I can imagine that we may have similar bouts of laughter in the future.

I can also imagine the residents of that city in Japan finding pieces of whale for years to come. I expect they'll continue to laugh about their incident as I do mine.

In the sport of bowling, there are many variables that affect our score. These include such things as, but are not limited to, the weather, type of ball, weight of the ball, and oil patterns. Do I have to mention our individual attitudes, health, and frame of mind? Our performance depends on many factors being "just right," and us realists know that there will be bad scores as well as terrific scores. That's just life.

Over the past couple of weeks, my "bowling baloney" have exploded several times, both good and bad (and these are separate and distinct explosions) - a 134 game, a 511 series, a gutter ball, three 4-6-7-10 splits in one game, and a 718 series. Who can figure? You just have to make the best of it.

One of my teammates, "Dippy" (a 200+ average), shoots a 92 game on Thursday league, then shoots a 300 game on Friday night; rolls a 740 series on Thursday night and comes back on Friday night just barely breaking a 500 series.

Baloney explodes everywhere and at anytime! As "Dippy" is always fond of saying, "What do we know?"

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bowling The Sun City Open With Larry

653 Doubles - 801 Singles - 761 Team. That's what my buddy "Larry" shot this past weekend (5/6 and 5/7, 2017) in a local tournament. These scores are really amazing since he's been in a slump all last season plus, enduring a two month layoff to have his knee replaced.

The tournament was held in two separate bowling centers in Sun City, AZ, The Bell Recreation Center and Lakeview Lanes. "Larry" has had averages in the 220+ but, all the pain caught up with him albeit, slowly over the past three to four years. It's been pretty tough for him; but, he never let things get him down too much and he persevered, always keeping a positive mindset that things would get better.
When he reported his scores to me on 5/6/2017, after shooting the Doubles and Singles, he added the comment, "I shot pretty good ... if only for a day." I immediately texted him back that those kinds of statements didn't sound right coming from him at this time. When he texted back on 5/7/2017 that he shot a 761, he agreed that I was correct.

Anyway, I asked him to write his thoughts and actions down and send it to me in an email. I present that email, with his permission, here. I have edited for clarity and some minor grammar and punctuation; however, these are basically his own words.

Choc,

When I talk to anyone about things I am doing to help my game, I am very careful in understanding what changes I made, because it helps me, in particular, and maybe not someone else. There have been too many times that I have mentioned something that I was doing to (my best friend) and he ends up trying it, but it doesn't work, because he doesn't do what I do. I feel that it does no good to tell somebody about something that is just a correction that I'm making because it's a mistake I am making. When you think about it, perhaps I should not be making that kind of correction anyway(?) because I'm not trying to put a band aid on it, I'm trying to fix it -- right now!!!

Where I have come to now is, I have incorporated those things into my game that I believe can help anybody with today’s game. It is all based on “Old Style” compared to “New Style.”

In the "Old Style," we were taught to lift upward and swing upward, because that is what helped the balls we were using to roll and hook on the lane conditions at that time. But none of that works today!! I even thought that if I broke my wrist back, that would solve the problem, but it did not, because I still lifted upward and swung upward. In those days I was told to picture a nail in the ceiling and then try to hammer the heck out of that nail with my thumb.

These days that just makes the ball overreact with total inconsistency all night long. It also uses up all of the energy in the ball very early so that it has nothing left when it gets to the pins. It looks good, but you cannot carry the corner pins. All the complaints we have heard over this past year that you cannot carry at Bell Lanes? Well, there were a bunch of guys that bowled this last weekend at Bell Lanes that did not have any problem, including me, and the lane conditions were still the same. So, why? How were they able to score?

I believe that it's because these certain players were able to help the ball hold line, come in on a good entry angle and save energy at the pins. These were four man teams and (an old-time, former PBA player's) team shot 975 the first game, 995 the second game and 938 the last game. They carried just fine. Also, we bowled with some guys from Tucson that were very good and they had virtually no problem with carry. However, I saw some of our "local" guys that were still having the same old carry problems. Again, why?!!

Here are four things for bowlers in the modern sport of bowling to consider:

Number 1) They all push/roll the ball down the lane and not drag/roll the ball down the lane. What I mean by that is that their hand and fingers are behind the ball in a position to push the ball down the lane rather than just rolling the ball down the lane.

If your fingers are well above the equator**, then you are just dragging the ball through and dropping it off along the way. The ball floats on the lane, uses up all of its energy before it gets to the pins and then leaves the dreaded corner pin on what looks to be a good hit.

**Note: Equator of a bowling ball = A Line around the ball, perpendicular to the vertical axis and the mid-line covering the entire circumference of the ball.

So, the fingers and hand have to be low enough on the ball that you can use them to push the ball forward down the lane. This is what I finally did to stop from lifting up on the ball. When you push/roll the ball down the lane your swing also goes towards the pins and not snap up towards the ceiling. This is why it is so easy for the kids that throw with no thumb. They are already in the push/roll position.

I suggest to take some video to see where you are really at, because, if you are not truly behind the ball, then you cannot push/roll the ball.

Number 2) It is absolutely imperative that you clear your thumb as quickly as possible, again no problem for the no-thumbers. The reason I say this is because that is the only way you can keep the ball on your target line and also not over turn the ball. If you go to the Slow Motion Videos of the Pros, you will notice that their thumb flies out of the ball. A quick, clean release is essential!! Good line, good roll, later break to the pocket with good energy. I have made the changes necessary to clear my thumb much, much quicker.

Number 3) Focus on a target line. Use either 3 targets, 2 targets or just draw a line, but in any case use a line instead of just a single spot to target with. If you do not use a line, I guarantee that you will sometimes pull the ball and sometimes flare the ball. It is also much easier to use a target line when you push/roll the ball down the lane, because you are pushing right down the line you have decided on.

Number 4) I am holding the ball absolutely "dead loose." My wrist is firm in order to stay behind the ball, but, I am not gripping at all. I am so loose I should drop the ball. This helps me get a very clean release with no grab at the bottom of the arm-swing and at the release point.

Now, all of what I have said here would be easier if I am able to completely change to the new style with my swing under my head, my body more forward and my release like a Yo Yo, but my body just won’t take all of that, so I do what I can.

In any case, by just doing what I have mentioned here I have increased my power and energy at the pocket and, therefore, better carry.

Larry

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bowling Against Your Own Worst Enemy

Are you practicing regularly but still having trouble improving your bowling scores and average? Have you sought out a bowling coach but feel it's not worth it because you're still not getting any better? Have you dedicated yourself to your efforts but it seems that you just  can't catch on and only seem to get worse after every practice session?

Over my years of coaching students, I've identified some things that seem to keep
them from improving their game in spite of repeated sessions. No one has exhibited all of the problems at once; but, each one has a profound effect on keeping progress at a "no-or-slow" pace. I can imagine what it would be like if someone was doing it without a coach.

Let's take a look at a few of them (for the purposes of this article, I'll label them as "Problem #1," "Proposed Solution #1, …" and "Solution #2," "Proposed Solution #2 …"):

Problem 1: Having no goal, objective, or purpose. Even hiring a coach, many students have no definitive goal of where they want their overall game to go. This would be the same thing as jumping in your car and just driving around because you don't have any specific place in mind that you want to go to. With no place to go, you can never get there.

Proposed Solution 1: Write down all the things that you want to accomplish with your bowling game - even if it's only one thing, such as, "raise my average by 20 pins.". If you have more than one goal, prioritize them and start with what you believe is your highest priority to work on. Put the overall list away and make a personal statement about the goal you've selected. Write it on a piece of paper and read it as often as you can. If you have a coach, discuss it with him/her. Once you've accomplished the goal to your satisfaction, review your ovarall list because by fixing one problem, it may have fixed another. Cross it (them) of your list, re-proritize them and move on.

Problem #2: Negative thinking and focusing on what's not working or what's not right. This is part of your mental game. As Henry Ford said, "whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're absolutely correct."

Proposed Solution #2: Discipline yourself to get away from the "negative-speak" and turn each thought or question around to be more positive. Instead of saying, "I can't pick this pin up," turn it around by saying, "I have picked this pin up many times before, I know what to do." Rather than saying, "well, here I go again," say the more positive, "this is not me, and I know I'm better." Start noticing (and writing them down in a notebook) all the negative things you say about yourself and then, turn them around to the positive point of view. Start thinking about "what is working," and "what is right."

Problem #3: Getting caught up with what you've done in the past so you're afraid of what will happen in the coming frames. "With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Proposed Solution #3: Each game in bowling consists of ten frames. Therefore, bowl each game on a frame-by-frame basis; that is, the frame that you are in at the time is the frame you should concentrate on. You cannot go back and re-bowl any previous frame. You cannot predict what each future frame is actually going to be. The only frame you have control over is the one you are in "right now." Say to yourself, "this is my frame, I will do the best that I can do, when it is over, I will move on to the next frame."

Problem #4: Comparing yourself to your teammates and/or other better bowlers so you feel that you'll never be "as good as they are." There's an old saying that goes, "You are unique, just like everyone else." There are too many variables such as physical build, drill of the ball, knowledge of the game, and a myriad of other things that make you different from everybody else. Simply put, "you are you and the other person is not you." Be yourself

Proposed Solution #4: Make a list of as many of your bowling accomplishments as possible. Now make a list of things you like about how you bowl. Keep reviewing the list and adding to it as you accomplish more and more things. Whenever you find yourself comparing against someone else, remind youself of how good you really are and that it serves no purpose to compare yourself against another person.

This may sound like something out of a motivational book or seminar. You're absolutely correct. It's working on your mental game and once you get your mind helping you instead of battling against you, your scores and average will begin to show improvement.

Don't continue to bowl against your own worst enemy.