Thursday, March 21, 2013

Posting Your Bowling Shot

Here's a brief "Choc-List" about “Posting Your Shot”:

1) Hold your finishing position until your ball clears the pin deck. Even if you think that you did something wrong during your approach and/or your release, hold your position rather than giving up on it. You'll find that your ball will do wonderful things as it makes its way down the lane. People always talk about follow-through and this is a way to ensure your arm accomplishes that.

2) Trailing leg behind you and toe on the ground (Off to the left for right-handers, off to the right for left-handers). Your leg should be as far off to the left or right as is comfortable and that you are not curled up at the line. This gets your hip out of the way and allows for maximum leverage at the point of release. By keeping your trail leg on the ground, you keep your body in balance and not teeter-tottering at your finish position. (A two-point finishing position as opposed to a standing on one leg.)

3) Knee bent at the finish. As well as helping with the leverage, this will accommodate a smoother release of the ball onto the lane. How much should the knee bend? As much as is comfortable for you to achieve that smooth delivery onto the lane.

4) The pendulum armswing. Most of us are taught to hold the ball with both hands in the starting position. Once the non-ball hand drops away and you start your downward swing, don't exert any force on your armswing. The weight of the ball should be all that's necessary to carry your ball through the backswing and forward to your release. In a "perfect" armswing, your arm should feel weightless through the entire arc of the arm swing.

When done properly, these four pointers will help you post your shot and increase your probabilities for throwing a strike.

Not only will your scores improve, but, you'll begin noticing why other bowlers are not carrying their pins as much as you are.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bowling Ball Pitch

Let's talk about, "PITCH,” which refers to the angle each of your holes are drilled into a bowling ball.

A bowling ball is a sphere so it has a "geometric center," (the exact middle point of your ball).

By recognizing that there is this GC, you now have the reference point from which the angle, or "pitch," of your holes are calculated.

As each of us are uniquely different, so each of us has unique hand characteristics.
Any ball driller will know this and can make several considerations in order to give you a comfortable feel and release.

Some of these are, (but not limited to): injuries, ailments, size of your fingers/hands, how much strength you have, and how flexible you are.

Some of these are easily seen while others are virtually undetectable.

The person fitting you for your ball should be asking you about your hand as he or she tries to figure out what the best fit would be for you.

Here's the "Choc-List" for bowling ball PITCH:

1) Zero Pitch - the hole is drilled directly toward the GC of the ball.

2) Reverse Pitch (often referred to as "Away") - the hole is drilled below the GC or "away from the palm." As your hand sits in the bowling ball, your thumb and/or fingers feel as if they are in more of an open position. This pitch tends to give a person an early release so it's more suited to bowlers with wider spans and stronger hands.

3) Forward Pitch (often referred to as "Under") - the hole is drilled above the GC or "under the palm" As your hand sits in the bowling ball, your thumb and fingers feel as if they are gripping the ball more securely without much effort on your part. As you may have already guessed, this is for shorter spans and not so strong hands.

4) Right & Left "Lateral" Pitch - as you look down on where your holes are drilled, this is the direction right or left from the GC of the ball.

You shouldn't have to be bowling with a ball that hurts your hand.

With so many combinations available to him or her, a sharp pro shop professional can, and should be able to, drill a ball that will be both comfortable and practical for you to throw.
If you have any pain in your fingers or thumb, a simple way to remember what the proper PITCH may be for you is: "Pitch the hole in the direction of the hurt."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Your Bowling BARS

Adjustments have to be made every time you bowl.

There are more options in this day of high-tech balls but you still have to learn adjust comfortably with these options.

It doesn't matter how much oil is placed on the lanes or the pattern that's laid down.

Here, then, are four common adjustments that you should practice in order to be able to make the change comfortably when it's necessary to do so.

These are your bowling ball, your angle, your release, and your ball speed. A good acronym for these adjustments would be BARS - ball, angle, release, and speed.

We could cover many more variables; but, my purpose is to pike your interest by providing the basics and let those of you that want to, dig into them deeper as your desire drives you.

Here's the “Choc-List” for the basic adjustments I refer to as, "BARS":

1) BALL - if you're serious about the sport of bowling and want to be a high average bowler, you'll need more than one bowling ball. At a minimum, one will be your bread-and-butter; one will go longer than the others; and another will have a softer surface. This makes a total of four when counting your spare ball. From a hooking perspective, they are zero, small, medium, and large. Keep in mind that high-tech bowling balls are so advanced that you should consult with your favorite pro shop for the differences in ball specifications and reactions.

2) ANGLE - if you get on the lanes and your ball hooks further left than normal, move left; if your ball tends to go right, move right. Nowadays, consider playing outside the 5-board (first arrow) or as deep inside as the 30-board because the different oil patterns also affect how the ball breaks to the pocket. Keep in mind, though, that more oil in this day-and-age does not necessarily mean that the ball will hook less.

3) RELEASE – variables include, but aren't limited to, cupping or relaxing your wrist, having an apparatus on your hand being behind the ball, being on the side of the ball, and throwing full-roller, semi-roller, or 3/4-roller.

4) SPEED - if the ball is not hooking enough, slow the ball down; if it is hooking too much, throw the ball faster. Some possible adjustments are to move forward on the approach and take shorter steps to slow down, move back and take longer steps to speed up; hold the ball lower when you set-up to slow down and hold the ball higher to increase the speed; and, of course, you can always get a heavier (unless you throw a 16-pounder) or lighter ball to vary your speed.

How does one get to be an “advanced” bowler? It all comes down to practice, practice, practice.

Don't just throw for strikes and scores when you're in a practice session. Train yourself on the aforementioned hints to see how your ball responds on the lanes.

Get better and bowl better!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Get Out Of Your Bowling Sandbox

I entered a senior bowling tournament several years ago.

This was the first time for me to bowl in competition outside of my two "comfort zone" bowling alleys in pretty close to a year.

Like a lot of bowlers, I have my favorite places to bowl and, nowadays, I very rarely venture out of those two bowling centers.

The tournament was being held in a house that I hadn't bowled in since the summer of 2006 for a Sports Shot League that I helped put together.

This is in sharp contrast to 2002 thru 2006 when I traveled to practically all the bowling centers in Phoenix as well as several other areas of Arizona.

Time-wise, it doesn't seem to be such a big deal; but, practicality-wise, the shortcomings of limiting yourself to being a one or two center bowler showed up.

We entered with a 4-person team average total of 845 and I was the only one who managed a 600+ series, which only speaks to how badly we couldn't adjust to the lane conditions.

From the first ball thrown in practice, it was evident that some radical adjustments were going to have to be made.

There were moans of surprise and frustration ranging from having brought the wrong equipment to outright statements of, "this is ridiculous."

I ended up using my "Spare" ball because it was the only one I could keep on the right side of the head pin.

Regardless of what may happen, however, here's my "Choc-List" of what I learned that day and what I have to teach myself and my students:

(1) Do your best not to become and remain a “one-dimensional bowler.” Get out of your sandbox and see if you can play in another one. If you get used to one type of scenery, it may be difficult for you to adjust to another landscape. Your 230 average does you no good if you enter a tournament and bowl 425.

(2) Don't allow yourself to get lackadaisical about your targeting and accuracy. Just because you can miss your mark by 7 boards and still get a strike at your local center, don't lose your ability to hit within 2 to 3 boards of your mark. Get as far away from "area bowling" as you can. My friend, who was an international champion for electronic darts gave me this advice when he was trying to teach me: "Choc, aim for the hole in the dart board that you want to hit."

(3) Shut out the negative thoughts around you. Keep your mental focus so you can think clearly and keep trying things rather than wallowing in self-pity along with the other bowlers around you.

(4) Keep practicing with the plastic spare ball. I didn't have to worry about the ball hooking so I was able to use pretty close to the same marls for all my spares. Bowlers who weren't used to using their spare ball for every spare missed theirs constantly. By the time they decided to use their spare balls for everything, they had to guess where to throw their balls - and, since they were used to arcing the ball for the spare, there were many missed on the right of the pin.

Here's a side note: The other team had an anchor man entering with a 225 average. I didn't notice that he ever tried any different target line then outside the 5-board.

He kept switching balls until he ran out of the ones that he brought - I don't remember the exact amount he had.

He didn't break a 500 series.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Basics of Bowling Ball Balance

"Symmetrical or asymmetrical, that is the question, whether 'tis more advantageous to have the ball roll down the lane in a smoother arc, or hark, would it cause more strikes that the core be left unbalanced for a more radical plunge to the pocket?

To sleep, perchance to dream of the perfect ball, with the perfect drill, impacting the pocket for the perfect strike, hence, I smile; for life indeed is good - I understand my ball and my average is rising.

--Excerpt from the fantasy, "A Mid-Summer Night's Bowling Dream." by Choc Higa--

Technically, the sport of bowling has become a bit more complicated when talking about bowling balls.

In order to keep improving, a bowler has to learn (and understand) about many specifications.

Some of these are bowling ball balance, cover stocks, oil patterns, hand positions, and targeting methodologies.

However, John Jowdy,  the renowned bowling coach said, "There is nothing in the world that can overcome a badly drilled ball."

Some knowledge with regard to bowling ball balance characteristics is important for any bowler.

A bowling ball is manufactured in sections (there are two-piece and three-piece bowling balls), beginning with the core and ending with the shell, or cover stock.

The core of a bowling ball determines the weight (lighter ones use more foamy materials than the heavier ones) and the shape of the core will make the ball roll smoother.

A symmetrical core (visualize a round one) will roll down the lane in a smoother arc and an asymmetrical core (visualize an oblong one) will tend to be more wobbly.

A football is the best example of this effect because it, in itself, is asymmetrically shaped with respect to a round sphere.

The cover stock is made up of one of four different types of compounds - plastic, urethane, reactive resin, or particle.

Each of these types of compounds plays a part in ball balance and how the ball rolls down the lane – plastic tend to hooks less while reactive resin hooks more.

Plastic balls are the popular choice for “spare balls” because they don't react to oil patterns.

Regardless of where a person bowls, the plastic ball will tend to go straighter than say, a reactive urethane cover stock.

(This negates the need to find where your marks are for shooting spares when the oiling patterns are different.)

A locator pin is a colored, plastic rod that is used to suspend the core of the ball in the mold as the second and maybe, third piece of the ball is poured.

In the final manufacturing process when the surfaces are made smooth, the pin will appear as a circular dot.

This, in effect, marks the center of the core of the ball and therefore, its position is very important when the ball is drilled.

Pin IN, Pin OUT, high or low pin, long pin or short pin, there are numerous variations to be considered so consult with your ball driller to determine the "best layout" for you.

The positive axis point (PAP) is a key to pin placement and has a direct impact on how your ball will roll down the lane.

To find your PAP, locate the first oil ring (circle) around the ball, usually the one closest to the thumb hole.

Find the center of this circle and then go to the point directly opposite to it on the other side of the ball.

As young kids, we used to think it was cool to place a white dot, made by cutting out a piece of tape in a small circle and placing it on the surface of the bowling ball, on the PAP and practice being able to throw our ball without that dot moving (of course, in those days we didn't know it was called the "PAP.")

Anyway, the PAP is generally 3 - 5 inches away from the mid-line of the center of your grip and about 1/2-inch up along the vertical axis line.

There is an excellent video here: (Storm Instructional Series).

Understanding the factors that affect bowling ball balance is a key component of how you'll want your ball to be drilled.

I recently watched a replay of a PBA match and noticed that several of them had their balls drilled with negative pin placements. (Normally, their pins are placed with more positive weight factors.)

Of course, the pros have ball specialists and coaches they consult with throughout their tournaments; however, I would venture to say that they, themselves, also know about ball specs, among other technical details.

There are basically three “types” of bowlers.

The TIGHT-LINE bowler tends to have lower ball speed, less revs, and the ball doesn't cover a lot of boards as it goes down the lane. This person must depend heavily on accuracy and consistency of delivery.

A STROKER hooks the ball more than the tight-line bowler so their revs and ball rotation puts them in the middle category. They can bowl well on a variety of lane conditions.

The CRANKER, at the high end of our bowler types is someone who can generate very high revs and a tremendous amount of hook making them very effective on conditions where there is a lot of oil.

Whichever type you are, or decide to be, keep in mind that each one can be just as effective as the next with the proper practice and having a properly drilled bowling ball.

Don’t be like a lot of bowlers who venture into their local pro shop, buy the nicest looking ball (or the one their friends told them about) and then place their fortunes in the hands of the ball driller.

What other choice do they have if they don't know the basics of bowling ball specifications?

If you’re going to get serious about bowling, you would surely want to learn and understand about what you’re doing when you spend upwards of $150 for a state-of-the-art bowling ball.

I would think so, anyway?

Simple Bowling Tips

I find that a lot of bowlers have a tendency to “over-think their game.”

They analyze every shot, wondering why they didn't execute the previous shot correctly.

Their minds are muddled up with things that have no business being there when they're bowling.

Here's a few simple tips to help you keep focused on your game instead of trying to think of every thing you have to do when throwing your ball down the lane.

  1. Develop a “Pre-Shot Routine” (PSR) and do the same thing every time you get ready to throw your ball. You may have to document everything until you can do them without thinking.
  2. Wipe your Reactive Resin bowling ball so that you “present a clean surface to the lane on every shot.” Your ball should react to the oil on the lane, not what's on the surface of your ball.
  3. Get mentally prepared before stepping on the approach.
  4. Minimize physical tension (arms and legs) because relaxed muscles are the key to success in delivering your ball downthe lane.
  5. Hold your finishing position (“Post” or “Posting”) until your ball hits the pins. This helps you maintain proper balance and develop better target accuracy when rolling your ball down the lane.

Achieving the best Timing, Rhythm, and Temp possible is key to bowling and scoring good.

These five points should help you get you into and proper mental and physical condition for doing just that.