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.

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