Monday, September 11, 2017

Changing My Bowling Game, Part 4

During the Friday Night league practice, I felt way out of synch. As we used to say when I was in the Air Force, “I felt as coordinated as an elephant trying to tip-toe across thin ice.”

It was tough to pinpoint the problem because I would sometimes drop the ball, sometimes hang up in the ball, but, one thing was certain – I wasn’t posting my shots at all.

Another thing for certain, if I didn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, it was going to be a frustrating night. Of course, the first thing I thought about was my rhythm and timing because of the recent change(s) in my bowling game.

Hold the ball high, hold the ball low, move forward on the approach, move back on the approach, concentrate on taking deliberate steps, nothing was working.

I even changed bowling balls though I knew it wasn’t the ball. (A note here is that my bowling ball arsenal sucks right now – a “dead” Total NV that tends to leave 8-10, 4-5, 4-5-7, 5-7, and 5-10 splits plus a “vintage” Absolute Inferno that for some reason, loves to leave 4-9 and 4-7-9 splits.

People tell me it’s not the ball, but why doesn’t my Roto Hy-Wire or my Storm Hy-Road leave those splits as often as those balls do?

Which is another theory I have – each bowler will have a particular manufacturer that will somehow match their style and method of bowling – however, that is for another time and article, if I decide to write about it.

So back to Friday night bowling. We start the first game and I still feel like the elephant and I “pound the pocket,” blow two 10-pins and end up with a 170. I believe I had one double.

The second game is not any better as I remember blowing two 10-pins, but there must have been a three-bagger (turkey) in there somewhere because I ended up with a 190. I’m still not feeling right throwing the ball, more like a pregnant elephant at this point in time.

Don’t ask me how, and don’t ask me why, but in the third game and after three 10-pins to start the game (I converted them; but, for some reason unbeknownst to me, I suddenly felt as though my right arm was “floating” on those spare shots.)

“Floating” on those spare shots. My mind now remembers about the unforced, pendulum armswing – don’t ask me how, and don’t ask me why – I just happened to do it and I absolutely felt it when I threw the 10-pin spares. Those shots felt good!

“Light bulb time.” Coming up to the 4th frame, I focus my efforts on keeping my armswing loose and pendulum-like and the ball reacts accordingly because it rips the pins to shreds (or so it seemed). I strung three more “rippers” for a 4-bagger, then dropped the ball and left an absolutely weak “bucket-with-the-man-in-motion,” (2-4-5-7-8). I knew that I had “muscled” the shot.

(Just as an aside, a couple of years ago, I heard one of the bowling announcers, Lucas Wiseman I believe, refer to that leave as a “dinner bucket with a side salad.”)

I recover with two “ripper” strikes in the 9th and 10th frame, then a solid 10-pin for a clean game 220. One of the best games I’ve thrown in league in recent times – posted every shot except for the weak bucket and picked up all my 10-pins.

The take away here is that, by accident and unexplainable (by me), I may have found my overall problem – “muscling the ball” rather than a relaxed, pendulum armswing. It sure felt good in the 3rd game; and now, I have to re-create and repeat that feeling in the arm as I'm going forward with my game change(s)..

It’s always a work in progress. By the way, I got the elephant off my back in the 3rd game.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Changing My Bowling Game, Part 3

Continuing with my game changing, I move into Wednesday night league with things feeling good. During practice, I hit the pocket consistently and struck each time (many guys don’t like that because they say it portends a bad start once the score keepers come on for the actual game).

I shoot a clean 1st game for a 228, then shoot a 222 with one blown 10-pin. Not being able to pick up that pin consistently is probably the biggest cause of my averaging dropping.

Not making those spares works on my mind and I start pushing myself to catch up because of needing to string strikes to make up for the missed spares. (The “compounding effect,” where mistakes build upon mistakes and you very rarely catch up.)

In the 3rd game, the dreaded transition gets me frustrated and I make some bad changes (not being patient, really) and end up with zero doubles, only a couple of strikes, and four open frames for a 156. I go stone-7 (blow it), 10-pin, fast-8, then I change balls to my Total NV.

The NV goes strike, then a 4-5-7 split. I had suspected this ball of being “dead” because whenever I brought it back into my arsenal, I left a lot of 8-10 splits with it. I then switch to a Brunswick Absolute Inferno and leave a solid 4-7-9 split. Another bad choice as this ball has never performed good for me. Somehow Brunswick cover stocks and weight blocks don’t agree with me.

(Also, note that the NV and Inferno are really old bowling balls that I brought out of retirement “just to try” since I’ve been bowling so badly.)

I go back to my Roto Hy-Wire and finish out the series with a 170+ for a dismal 770+ after a 450 two game start.

Looking back at the 3rd and 4th games, I surmise that with the reduced ball speed, the lane changes will affect my bowling ball much more than with my previous style. Although there doesn’t seem to be that much less ball speed, the oil changes will require me to make larger changes – 5 and 3, rather than 2 and 1. It may even require a Zone Change.

Still, Whenever I execute properly, pins are flying so I’ll continue working on this latest change in my game.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Changing My Bowling Game, Part 2

With "Changing My Bowling Game" in mind, I woke myself up on Monday morning (the 4th) and went to Bell Lanes to throw a few lines with my new purpose in mind.

What I had in mind was slower footwork and "bellying the ball" out to the 8-board at the outer marker. (That is the marker sitting on the 10-board at the 41 to 43 foot mark on Brunswick Anvilanes).

It took about a game-and-a-half to slow my feet down as I had to be more like "walking normal steps" instead of what I think I was used to.

(I apologize but I can't describe what I've been doing up to this point because my game has become so messed up. Suffice it to say that it was erratic quick steps and forced me to be out-of-balance consistently at the line.)

I bowled four games and by the middle of the 2nd game, I was feeling better because I felt myself posting my shots at the foul line. I should have tried to video myself; but, if someone were to b watching me, they would have seen me posed at the foul line, right leg trailing off to the left, and me not stumbling at all.

I finished out the 3rd and 4th games posting every single shot! Something I haven't done for at least a couple of years.

This new change has a lot of promise and may be what I've been looking for!

(Note that I don't remember what my scores were - it was practice with a purpose.)

Tuesday night Bell Toppers, it's a 5-man team league. I start of feeling really good, as I strike every ball in practice. Then, of course the score keeping starts and although I falter several times not posting (meaning that my timing and rhythm were off) I managed a 213 first game.

2nd game starts off with two 10-pins, then a stone 9 pin. The lanes are transitioning for me. After a 4-pin in the 4th frame, I decide it's time to start making some changes (impatience?). No doubles, a blown 10-pin, a couple of buckets (2-4-5-8) and score of 179.

I make a move to the left four boards, take my eyes to the 12-board at the arrows, and keep my "bellying the ball" to the 8-board at the outer marker. A couple of solid 10-pins and at least a 3-bagger which gave me a 210 for a 602 series.

(Please note: I use a three-point targeting system in that I look at the 6-pin, then the 8-board at the outer marker, then, bring my eyes to the target board at the arrows.)


This new change is still promising because when I execute properly, the pins go flying. There were shots in there that would (should) not have been strikes and moans and groans from the opponents solidify that statement.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Changing My Bowling Game

The 2017 season for me started Friday, Sept. 1. With great timing, posting, follow-through, relaxed armswing, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, I left about 4 to 5 10-pins per game and shot 560-something.

Sooo, after thinking about it for a couple of days, I’m going to throw another speculative theory out there and try it next Tuesday in the Bell Toppers league.

I MIGHT BE A TYPE OF BOWLER THAT IS A ‘TWEENER’ WITH REGARDS TO BALL SPEED; THAT IS, NOT FAST ENOUGH TO GET A LOT OF PIN ACTION, YET, NOT SLOW ENOUGH FOR THE BALL TO READ THE LANE PROPERLY (“Fritz Haverstick Effect”).

I have tried for two years to speed the ball up to no avail because the ball reaction (frankly) sucks. I have tried to slow the ball down; but, can’t get it slow enough to have consistent area like the “FHE”.

HOWEVER, all of the things I’ve tried have been based on attempting to keep the ball on a straighter line to the pocket. The different hand positions, the different ball speeds, the different whatever, have always been with the “down-and-in” frame of mind.

What I have never tried is to throw what I refer to as a, “Round house,” or “Bellying the ball” creating a rounder arc to the pocket. That is, moving a little bit further to the left on the approach (say 25 to 30-board) and “bellying the ball” out to the 8-board at the outer marker. Using that as a base and, keeping the same arcing ball motion, make my adjustments from there – be it hand position, ball speed, and whatever.

This change in my game will naturally entail a slower approach and a softer ball release, which of course, will result in slower ball speed. Theoretically, I should end up with a banana shaped arc instead of a hockey stick arc. Also theoretically, the slower initial ball speed should not matter too much to the reactive resin bowling ball because its energy will be saved for when it hits the dry, where it should pick up speed on its own.

I’ve tried pretty much everything else. My problem is not hitting the pocket, my problem is not being able to carry the 10-pin. We shall see.

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.