Monday, July 28, 2014

Analysis OF The Perfect Pocket Hit

Here are some facts surrounding the "PERFECT pocket strike" hit:
(Facts researched, tested, and released in technical papers from the USBC.)


(1) The ball enters the 1-3 pocket on the 17-1/2 board;
(2) The entry angle of the ball is 6 degrees; and,
(3) The ball only contacts four pins: 1, 3, 5, and 9.


In my simplistic mathematical statement:


"The Perfect pocket strike" = (1) + (2) + (3).


IT IS NOT:


(1) + (3), nor is it (2) + (3), and neither is it (1) + (2); it absolutely must be (1) + (2) + (3), no ifs, ands, or buts.



For those of you who complain constantly about leaving solid single pins when you hit the pocket, think again.


Before you go on and on and on about being "tapped," remind yourself that at least one of the aforementioned factors caused that single pin to remain standing.


Now, let's quickly mention a few other factors that haven't been studied (not that I could find, anyway), which probably contributes to a "supposedly perfect pocket hit" to go awry:


(1) The speed of the ball when it hit the pocket,
(2) The axis tilt of the ball (is it "wibbling" when it should be "wobbling") and,
(3) Is the ball picking up momentum when it hits the pocket or is it running out of steam and "rolling out?"


Also remember these are just three out of so many factors that could cause the pins not to fall.


What's my point?


We're not perfect.


We all know it.


We all admit it.


So why do we believe that when we hit what we think is a perfect pocket in bowling and leave a single pin, that it was a "perfectly thrown ball?"


And, we spend countless minutes and wasted energy after that attempting to prove that it was, in fact, a perfect hit, don't we?


How foolish is that, really?


I'm going to leave you with three things on my "Choc-List" to think about if you insist on complaining about that single pin you left when you hit the pocket so perfectly:


1) What do you have to do to pick up the 4 pin spare? Hit the 4 pin, correct? What happens if you don't make contact with the 4 pin, you miss it, isn't that so? In summary, if you hit the pin, you get a spare conversion, if you miss it you get an error or blow, right?


2) In a 5-person team game, in order to win the game total, what does the team have to get? Their five person total has to be higher than the other team's five person total, correct? In summary, if your team's total is higher than the total of the opponent's, you get the win, if not, you lose, right?


3) In order to get a perfect pocket strike, the ball must enter the pocket on the 17-1/2 board, have a 6-degree entry angle into the pocket, and the ball must contact only the 1, 3, 5, and 8 pins. In summary, if these three parameters are met, we strike; if they aren't met, we don't get a strike.


Let's summarize the "perfect pocket strike" again ----



"If all the pins fall down, that's the proof that all the factors for throwing a perfect pocket strike were met; if pins remain standing, that's the proof all the factors were NOT met."



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Small Details To Help Your Bowling Accuracy

I like to take my students on a tour of the bowling lane sometime during the first lesson - preferably before we start throwing balls down the lane.

If they don't actually see something, they might not gain a true perspective of the point being made to them - "Seeing is believing," if you will.

While I can't physically show the reader the details I'm relating in this article, I hope they'll ask their bowling center to let them take a walk alongside one of the end lanes to get a "first-hand" look what at I'm talking about.

These are small details that not everyone discusses; but, they are important to a bowler's knowledge of the sport of bowling.

NOTE: For ease of description, I am rounding off numbers to the lower side because some of the specifications are very fractional to the thousandths of an inch.

The difficulty of this game of bowling is exemplified by the details I'm listing.

My "Choc-List" of fine points is as follows:

1) The distance from the foul line to center of the headpin is 60 feet, to the end of the lane itself, 62 feet 10 inches.

2) In a typical bowling center, the lane is only oiled for a certain number of feet from the foul line.

This is about 38 - 41 feet and beyond that point, no oil is laid down.

(After bowlers begin rolling balls down the lanes, whatever oil gets deposited on the previously "un-oiled" portion of the lane is there because the bowling ball "carries" it down there.)

Note: Typically, the lanes are oiled prior to a league session. If you can, ask your bowling center manager to allow you to take a walk down the side of the lane before anyone bowls and then, after the league is over.

You'll be able to see "dry streaks" in the first 38 - 41 feet and "oily streaks" from the end of the oil pattern to the end of the lane.

3) Your ball is 8-1/2 inches wide and each pin is 4-3/4 inches at its widest point. That means for a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 pin, you have nearly 21-3/4 inches of area to hit them to make a spare.

The 7 pin and the 10 pin have about 14 inches of playing area.

4) Looking at the triangle of pins from our vantage point on the approach, the number assigned to each pin in the "V-shape" is as follows:

(a) From the headpin moving to the left, the 1, 2, 4, and 7 pins.

(b) From the headpin moving to the right, the 1, 3, 6, and 10 pins.

(c) The three pins in the middle of that "V-shape" are the 5, 8, and 9.

5) The center-to-center measurement is a fraction less than 6 inches between each. That is, 1 pin to 2 pin, 2 pin to 4 pin, and 4 pin to 7 pin, etcetera.

6) There are 39 boards from gutter-to-gutter on a regulation lane so every "board" is 1.06 inches in width.

7) Using the inside of your sliding shoe as the reference for where you stand on the approach every board you move, left or right, is affected by 2 - 3 inches at the pins.

Drawing a straight line from the inside of a person's sliding shoe to the top of a person's head is the vertical center of the human body.

What is the significance of these minutiae?

You should be able to use them as rough "guess-timates" to adjust for different lane conditions and for spare shooting.

Thinking about them carefully, all bowlers may be able to use them to sharpen their accuracy on the lanes.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Arguing For Your Your Limitations

I was having a relatively poor night of bowling last season when a guy on another team told me that I shouldn't feel so bad because it was the lanes, and not me, that were causing my low scores.

Imagine that, someone else wanting to make excuses for my inability to knock the pins down.

Like all "out-of-the-ordinary" statements that are made to me, I started paying attention to see how much more of those types of remarks I could pick out.

I'm figuring you already know the results of my informal observations, correct? Too many.

People seem all to willing to make excuses FOR you.

Is it any wonder that most of us bowlers find it so hard to focus and concentrate on our own efforts?

We are having a tough enough time trying NOT to argue for our limitations; but, at the same time, other people are counter-acting our thoughts by arguing FOR them.

Is that a dilemma or what?

Richard Bach, the novelist, wrote, "Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they're yours."

I wonder if he knew that there are people out there who are, "Willing to argue your limitations FOR you so that, sure enough, you make them yours?"

I'd venture to say that in the elite bowler ranks, Professional Women and Men, National and International Champions, and so on, are not having to face as much negative talking and thinking like we, at the local level, do every day.

The key point is that they're "elite" bowlers because they have learned to think positively "all the time."

(I'd venture to say, also, that if a bowler does not think positively, he or she will have a very difficult time making it to the "elite" bowler status.)

What can you do, at the local level, to keep your mind from arguing for your limitations?

Funny you should ask, as I have a "Choc-List" right here for you:

1) Be Decisive - Make a decision that you will shut off any negative words or thoughts. You get to be a better bowler by thinking positively and shutting out negativity. "Where there's a will, there's a way" and your will determines what you focus your attention on. You're the one who controls it.

2) Be Aware - Make a study of what not to say or think about. Write down, right now, all the words and phrases that could prevent you from thinking positively. Pay attention to direct or indirect statements that reflect the opposite of what you're trying to accomplish. By cementing them in your mind, you'll be able to keep them out of your thoughts and spot them coming out of someone else's mouth. Keep updating your list as you think of them or if you hear them.

3) Be in the Present - What's happened to you in the past is of no consequence to what you're doing at this moment. So what if you shot a low game or series last time? Chances are, the only person that remembers the exact score is you. Ask around and you'll see what I'm saying is true. The future hasn't come yet. Are you clairvoyant? Do you have a track record for being able to predict and control the future? Admit that the only time you can ever control is right now. Don't live in the past nor be afraid of the future.

4) Become A Better "Mental" Bowler - There are many disagreeable things that local-level bowlers have to put up with. Overcoming them as you move to becoming a better bowler is a great feeling that you can savor each step along the way.

I am going to paraphrase another well-known saying, "Magic is the opposite of Bowling. When you know how magic works, the magic goes away, With Bowling, when you know begin to look for how it works, the magic begins."




Friday, July 18, 2014

A Bowler's "LIMITATION LINGO"

A few years ago, one of my bowling buddies, "Bo-Ler," (name altered to protect the innocent) changed his ball before the start of the 3rd game. He said, "This ball is meant to go long and snap at the end."

He threw the first frame and the ball went very long, then snapped around 62 feet down the lane (give-or-take) and he picked off the 6 and 9 pins only - a two count on his first ball! A good time was had by all and he will probably never live it down.

This has nothing to do with the main subject of my article; however, it was such an odd occurrence, I felt I had to document it for posterity. "Bo-ler" is a good sport.

Now to the gist of this article --

A while back one of my coaches mentioned a "pet peeve" of his.

In response to his question of how they bowled, people seem to always answer that they "didn't hit their average," or "I just made my average tonight."

He contends that people are not aiming high enough when they tell him things in reference to their "average."

"Coach" says that people should be trying to bowl the highest they can every time out.

He, personally, does not bowl just to "hit his average" because he wants to beat his highest score and series every time out.

When he coaches someone, he doesn't talk about a person's "average" because it tends to make people bowl only to a certain level.

Not only is he a long-time high performer in the state and is in the "Hall of Fame;" but, "Coach" is one of the people who has been able to adapt to the new era of high-tech bowling.

"Coach" has hit on something I'm calling, "Limitation Lingo."

It lies just below the surface of "negative speak," but could be more responsible for a bowler's inability to rise above a certain level of performance just because it's so subtle.

I'm sure we've all heard of "negative-speak," and "positive affirmations."

I've written about them in the past and there are numerous books, videos, and bowling articles that talk about the two subjects.

Very briefly, though, "negative-speak" is all the talk to yourself that tears you down so that you can't perform well.

"Positive Affirmations" are phrases and thoughts used to counter all the negative stuff.

Can you, however, recognize these common expressions that you or your fellow bowlers use quite regularly in conversation?

"I didn't hit my average tonight."

"I just want to shoot my average every time I bowl."

"All I want to do is bowl decent so I don't embarrass myself."

"I may not win but I'm going to enter and do my best."

"At least I can say, 'I tried.'"

Do any of these terms inspire any kind of confidence?

If we're using these kinds of phrases, are we really "doing our best?"

Here's four words that convey the aforementioned statements' real meaning - "acceptable," "sufficient," "mediocre," and "adequate."

Oh, and how about, "apologetic?"

In anticipation of not doing well, we apologize to everyone in advance for that poor performance we "just know" will happen.

We've set ourselves up so we don't have to make excuses for our sub-standard bowling (although we know that we'll be apologizing for that low performance the rest of the night).

I contend that we're limiting ourselves with these subtle thoughts and phrases.

They're not as direct as "negative speak;" however, they undermine our performance just as much.

As a matter of fact, it may be even more damaging because they're so covert.

If you don't recognize them as bad, how can you react against them?

"Limitation Lingo" is not easily recognized because it is merely thought of as things that we regularly (normally) say or do.

We do it every day without thinking.

We've become attuned to doing "just enough to get by."

We don't want to offend anybody or let anyone down.

If we do well, we feel we have to apologize for doing well, if we do poorly, we need to make excuses for why we didn't at least do "average."

If we perform to the "mediocre medium," we feel good because we did enough not to stand out.

Try doing what I did and listen carefully to yourself and your fellow bowlers over the next several days or weeks.

Write down what you feel is in the realm of, "Limitation Lingo."

You will be surprised at the results.

"Limitation Lingo" is just below the surface of our way of thinking and emerges because we feel that we should be like "everyone else."

It's commonly accepted as "proper behavior."

Make a conscious effort to rid yourself of these thoughts and more importantly, stop using them.

What's wrong with saying, "Thank You," when you do well and get complimented instead of trying to act humble and play down the accomplishment?

There should be nothing wrong with being proud of your honor scores or performing well.

"Coach" is absolutely correct - we shouldn't be merely shooting for "average."



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bowling In The Marianas Trench

Well, Myron the Muse calls me in the middle of the evening and says, "Your next article needs to be about 'overcoming the bowling slump' because I just bowled a 415 series in a no-tap tournament."

Scratch? (meaning no handicap); but, of course, I knew that it was.

I was thinking of ways to keep his spirits up without laughing too hard. (He's my younger brother so I can do that, I think.)

Did I tell you that he is an accomplished guitar player, is trying to learn the electric piano, and is a whiz at the ukulele?

Myron is the life of the party when we have what we call "Kanikapila" (Hawaiian for, literally, "jam session," or as I learned from my haole friends in the military, "pickin' and a-grinnin'".)

One of the nicknames I toyed with when I first introduced him several months ago was, "Myron, the Bowling Muse-i-cal Muse."

He's probably lucky I didn't choose that one.

I guess my brother has forgotten that I did write an article about overcoming a slump just a few weeks ago.

It was under the title, "The Insanity Defense."

But, that's okay, I forgive him for forgetting.

Hey, what are older brothers for if not to forgive younger siblings?

We spend our entire lives forgiving them (wink-wink).

But, let me tell you, 415 scratch in a no-tap tournament is much, much more than a slump, my friends.

Let's see, that's an average of 138 when all you need is 9-pins on the first ball to have it count as a strike.

Additionally, the person bowling it is a 180- to 195-average bowler.

Words escape me; but, "TRENCH" comes to mind.

Like, say, the MARIANAS TRENCH in the Pacific Ocean which is purported to be the deepest trench on planet earth.

There are parts of it where they haven't yet seen the bottom!. That's deep!

Here's the "Choc-List" for what I believe the Muse allowed to happen to him:

1) He lost his concentration. He did not step back, take a deep breath, and say to himself, calm down, relax, just let the ball go.

2) He lost his focus. He was probably getting embarrassed thinking "everyone" was watching him so he could not get his mind back to his game.

3) He forgot the basics. (Ya think?) and he was probably trying so hard to get the ball in the pocket, he started moving around and lost track of where he started out from.

4) He consciously (or sub-consciously) gave up at some point and just started slinging the ball down the lane without aiming. He might have even "fooled around" on some of his throws so that spectators would think he didn't care.


We've all been there.

Won't be the first time, won't be the last.

Keep plugging away and make the best of things.

Do not ever give up on your game.

Things will always get better.

Just don't allow your mind to stay in the "Trench," or "Gutter," If you prefer; neither are deep enough to keep your slumping scores there permanently as long as you keep thinking positively.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Are You Whining Or Bowling?

As we were completing one of our leagues, one of the guys went into a tirade about the lane conditions.

You know, the usual complaints about leaving so many 10 pins, and how his scores "should-a, would-a, could-a" been much higher.

And, as always, all of us pretty much ignored him and didn't say a word.

A very memorable comment, however, was made by the wife of another bowler.

It summed up everything that could be said about any complaining, by any bowler, at any time.

She said, "What is he whining about? You know, Choc, nobody ever lives long enough to cry and whine about a simple game."

I could only nod my head and agree with the wisdom of those words.

Life is too short for us to spend it feeling frustrated and stressed out because we shot a low game or low series.

Or that we should have shot a higher game or series if it wasn't for leaving so many single pins.

I believe we will one day look back on our lives and reflect on why we wasted so many days feeling bad, being angry, or complaining.

Whether it's early in their life (lucky for them), later in their life, or at the end of their life, everyone will realize the futility of those wasted moments.

As my "Choc-List" for these situations goes:

1) Accept the fact that you are not always going to bowl perfectly.

That's why we have an "average" and game is called "bowling" and not "striking." 

How boring would the game be if you (and everybody's) "average" was 300?

2) Leaving 10 pins are part of the game.

Watch the PBA Tour and then observe what is happening at the local bowling center - we all leave ten pins, sometimes as many as half-a-dozen or more.

As Marshall Holman so aptly put it, "In the modern sport of bowling, there are two types of spares - the 10 pin and the rest of them."

3) As you are complaining, take a long look around and see how many people are actually listening.

Oh, they may be nodding their heads or smiling, but, how many of them are really hearing what you say.

Does it really matter?

4) Sit down, close your eyes, and take three deep breaths. Relax. Breathe in deeply through your nose, filling your stomach and lungs as much as you can.

Hold it in for a few seconds. Exhale through your mouth. Relax.

Think about what Confucius said, "It is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."



Just Let Them Have Fun As A Youth Bowler

Several years ago, a grandmother and mother brought their two girls to junior bowling for the first time.

The kids were 5 and 6 years old and had never been bowling in their life.

It was immediately obvious that the grandmother and mother were going to be problems when the 5-year old took the bowling ball and threw it in the gutter on her first throw.

Even though there was a junior coach assigned to the pair of lanes, the grandmother went running down to the lane, called the young girl over to her and yelled, "why didn't you hit down any pins?"

The girl immediately stood frozen, her hand to her mouth, and looking at the floor.

The grandmother then yelled at the coach, "What are we paying $8.00 for?" (The cost of Saturday Junior Bowling.)

The adult daughter, meanwhile, stood in the back concourse area complaining to no one in particular about the error of their ways in selecting this junior bowling program to bring their children to.

The adults were immediately yaken aside and talked to and they quieted down somewhat; but, they could be seen fidgeting in their chairs trying to keep from saying something to the children..

They werel having a tough time dealing with the fact that their two girls weren't knocking down pins every time they threw the ball.

Neither of the two adults had ever bowled; but, it didn't stop them from wanting to tell the coaches what their children were doing wrong and to have the coach correct their bowling so they wouldn't throw so many gutter balls.

They quit coming after several weeks and I don't know if they went to another youth bowling program.

I suspect they didn't because the two kids were not having a good time at all.

I hope that at some point in time they will realize that very few children, if any, could average 200+ after one season of bowling.

I sincerely hope they learned to let their children go and have fun with the sport.

Here's my "Choc-List" for you if you decide to enroll your kids in a youth bowling program:

1) Your children are children. They are not mini-adults and neither are they "mature for their age." They are just kids.

2) Don't expect them to be bowling high scores and averaging over 200 in the next few years.

Actually, don't expect them to average anywhere near that point 5 years from when they first start bowling.

3) You CAN expect them to show gradual improvement year-after-year in their scores.

You should also expect them to show continued improvement in their social skills and responsibilities toward other aspects of their life.

4) Let them have FUN! There will be plenty of time for seriousness about bowling when they get into their teens and/or high school years.

(There are now over 80 colleges and universities offering scholarships for bowling.)

In any sport, if the children don't enjoy it from the start, there is a high probability that they won't continue in it.

When they're young and just starting out, just LET THEM HAVE FUN!

If they develop a keen interest in the sport, there will be plenty of time to develop their skills and maintain their interest in the game.

Don't be so tough and hard on them that they won't last even one season because you, their parents, didn't let them enjoy their bowling.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Will New Equipment Help My Bowling?

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. - John Quincy Adams -

The Muse of Mesa (TMOM) calls me; "Does the changing weather have an effect on the lanes?"

"Sure it does," I reply, "bowling is an indoor sport; but, humidity and temperature play a part in your ball reaction, why?"

"Well," he says, "my scores have dropped and I can't seem to hit the pocket like I was a few weeks earlier."

"What kind of scores are we talking about?"

"Oh, I was averaging solidly in the 190's and now, I'm shooting a lot of 130's and 400 series."

Ummm, "Excuse me, T.M.O.M., but, the weather will not have that drastic an effect on your score; I think you need to look at different areas of your overall game."

"Well, then, how often should a bowler be changing their bowling balls?

I'm tempted to go out and get the ball that I've been hearing so much about - you know, the one that all the pro's are throwing?"

Ummm, "Excuse me, Muse, but, I don't feel that purchasing the latest whiz-bang, high-tech bowling ball will have you shooting higher scores overnight."

"Look," Muse, "Stop looking for external excuses and go back to the fundamentals of your game - just follow my "Choc-List" and you'll come out fine:"

1) Don't be jumping to spend your way out of a slump by buying up all the products and gadgets out there. What good is brand new equipment if the bowler hasn't gotten the fundamentlas solidly in place?

2) Hire a bowling coach and have him watch you. You don't want one that wants to re-invent your game; rather, find one who'll work with your style to fine tune your game. Also, at least make sure they have some credentials.

3) Pay attention to the physical aspects of your game - Stance, Armswing, Timing & Tempo, Finishing Position, and Release & Follow-through.

4) Always remember to exercise the Mental Game, too - Breathing, Self-Talk, Pre-shot Routine, and Visualization.

"Boy," T.M.O.M. lamented, "that's sure a lot of things to think about."

"Perhaps, but look at it this way, Muse, if you improve yourself over the next year by three-tenths of one percent per day (0.3%), you will have made more than a hundred percent improvement in your abilities - take it one day at a time, brother, one day at a time."


Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Bowling Foul-Line Correction

You often hear the term, "muscle memory," associated with sports.

The athlete has honed their skill to such a keen sense that every muscle in their body is attuned to accomplish their goal.

In bowling, this term is more often used with regard to your arm swing, foot work, and release of the bowling ball.

Whenever I tell my students to try something new, their comment is always, "that feels strange."

When I hear that, my immediate reply is "okay, we won't move on to another point until you feel completely comfortable with this new thing you're trying."

There is nothing to be gained by moving on to something else if they are not feeling good about their form, approach, arm swing, or rhythm.

The biggest part of practicing and becoming consistent is getting to the point in your game where you don't have to think about what you are doing.

You're totally comfortable and are only focusing on your target instead of having three or four things about your form getting in your way.

There is a "thing" that many good bowlers have which I've labeled as, "foul line correction."

Here's the gist of it: as the ball is released, the bowler's unconscious mind senses that something doesn't feel right and makes an automatic correction of his/her release to set the ball on the lane in the proper strike line.

Watch the pros on TV and you'll see such things as an arm being thrown out to the right, a ball being released with very little lift, or the wrist snapping harder than usual.

Watch some of your local high average bowlers and chances are, you'll see the same sort of things happening with their releases.

"Foul line correction" could also be thought of as, "instinct."

When an athlete is "in the zone," everything seems to go his/her way and there is nothing they can do wrong.

I suspect that all of us have felt that way at one time or another.

It doesn't necessarily have to be associated with sports either.

Have you ever been at work and completed a task only to have something "tell" you that you did it wrong?

Have you ever thought of a problem and something "told" you what the answer was?

Have you ever started to do something and "thought better" of it?

Chances are, you were so tuned in to the task, problem, or objective, that your body and/or mind sensed the correct manner in which it should be done and "automatically" knew what you had to do.

We all perform better if we are comfortable.

Practicing and being knowledgeable (aware) of our bowling senses are the keys to getting there.

From this time going forward, add this thought to your purpose for practice sessions:

 "My objective is to fine-tune my bowling so that I am instinctively performing greatly and my mind/body is attuned to the 'foul-line correction' needed to perform at this high level."

If you've been bowling for a while and have put in a fair amount of practice, I believe that you have the "instinctive" feeling already in you; it just needs to be developed further.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

When Bowling, You Should Always Be Able To Find The Pocket

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're correct." -Henry Ford-

Have you ever gone into competition and, after the warm-up period is over, thought to yourself, "I didn't find the shot so I'm gonna have a tough time tonight?"

Do you realize that you may have just given the game away to your opponents before the first frame is even thrown?

(Your mental game just took a punch to the gut.)

I guarantee that if you uttered that comment out loud, you'll have boosted up the other team's momentum and confidence.

Wouldn't you feel good if you heard your competitor say that to you? Every bowler in a match wants to hear negative thinking like that.

After all, when we bowl in league, aren't we looking for any advantage possible to win the points?

Regardless of the lane conditions, the winning edge has tilted over to the opponent's side when they hear their foe say, "I haven't found the line."

Two things every good bowler should strive for:

1) Always find a way to get to the pocket.

2) Never broadcast where you're currently at to your opponent(s).
(NOTE: Body Language and outward displays of frustration are also, "broadcasting."

Number 2), above, is pretty easy to accomplish because all it takes is a little self-discipline on your part.

For 1), above, it will take practice and the ability to look at your game with a broader view.

When I talk about "arsenal," I'm not only talking about the different bowling balls you may have; I also mean your arsenal of hand releases, ability to vary ball speeds, and the different angles you're able to lay the ball down on the lanes with.

Bowling balls, hand releases, and speeds are subjects that I find many bowlers are familiar with primarily because they're common topics of conversation around a bowling center.

Being able to play different angles, however, is a different story, because the "playing the angles," I'm speaking about are NOT "standing 20, aiming 12," or "standing 23, aiming 15," or "standing 35, aiming 25."

"Playing the angles" comes from the "old rubber ball days," and are commonly spoken of as, "Down-and-In," "Up the boards," and playing an "Away" shot.

Very briefly, "Down-and-In," means the ball stays on the board (line) you lay it on until it hits the the pocket.

"Up the boards," means the ball never moves to the right of the board (line) you lay it on, rolls 2 to 4 boards to the left (sometimes), and dives for the pocket.

An "Away" shot, means the ball moves to the right of the board (line) you lay it on and somewhere down the lane, hits the breakpoint and makes its dive for the pocket. (1 board or 20 boards to the right, it's still "away.")

A suggestion of how to practice these shots is, the next time you practice, have a purpose of hitting the pocket from (say) the 2nd Arrow using a "Down-and-In," an "Up the boards," and an "Away shot."

Think of it this way, if you have 3 reactive bowling balls, 2 different hand releases, can vary your speed 2 ways, now you add in 3 different methods for "playing the angles," how much has it increased your "arsenal" and ability to hit the pocket under differing conditions?

Your "arsenal of shots" will not be complete until you practice being able to play these "old rubber ball days" angles.

Here's a final thought: I know a local bowler who generally only uses one bowling ball, can vary his speed appropriately for the volume of oil on the lane, and usually plays either a "Down-and-In" or "Up the boards" shot. He averages between 225 and 235 regardless of the bowling center and oiling pattern.

He can find a way to hit the pocket from anywhere.


Friday, July 11, 2014

You Can't Fix All Your Bowling Problems At One Time

"We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once."
 -Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the US-

Do you have a tendency to try to concentrate on "everything" at once in order to bowl good?

That is, when on the approach, are you are making sure that your starting stance and position is "just so," are you mentally counting your steps to keep a smooth tempo, are you are thinking about keeping your armswing free, do you make sure you are walking straight, are you thinking about keeping your eyes on your target, WHOA! … I lost my concentration just writing that!

If you 're attempting to do this when you bowl, it's a pretty sure bet that you're having trouble with your game.

You're wanting to master every detail all at once, therefore, you really aren't mastering anything.

You're probably feeling (or looking to others) as if you are tight and mechanical.

You're also not seeing any improvement in your scores and average.

How can anyone improve if they're trying to concentrate on so many things at once?

In every facet of our lives, things get done by going step-by-step, one thing at a time.

Let's say that the lawn needs to be mowed, the hedge needs to be trimmed, and the weeds need to be pulled.

Would you get better results by:

1) Doing to all three jobs at the same time, that is, alternating between them - mow a little, trim a little, pull a little; or,

2) Doing each one until it is completed before moving on to the next task?

I contend that you'll get a higher quality result doing each one until it is completed before moving on to the next one.

Here's a suggestion for how to figure out which things you should work on first in order to improve your bowling.

Make a list of the different aspects of your game - starting stance, pushaway, armswing, walking straight, balance at the foul line, ball release, hitting the target, follow-through, and anything else you can think of for your personal game.

Analyze your degree of competence with each. (Invent yourself a scale so that you can rate them accordingly.)

Here's a suggested scale: 1 - comfortable, 2- so-so, 3 - uncoordinated, 4 - not sure what I'm doing, 5 - totally lost. (I said, "suggested scale," so feel free to make up your own.)

When rating the items on your list, you can use each rating number more than once.

It's okay to have "starting stance" and "armswing" with a "1," or "walking straight" and "ball release" as "3."

After you've rated each item, make your decision as to what you'll tackle first - usually, you'd pick the highest number as something to tackle first, but not necessarily so.

If there's a tie, flip a coin. Once your decision is made, don't change your mind.

Commit to the fact that you'll concentrate and work on that facet of your game until it's mastered and you feel totally comfortable with it.

Once you feel that way about what you're working on, take your list and evaluate yourself again.

The reason for this is that by concentrating and fixing one part of your game, you may find that another part has "seemed to fix itself."

This is the beauty of concentrating on only one thing at a time rather than trying to do everything at once.

For example, while working and focusing on your armswing, you may find that your balance at the foul line has improved at the same time.

Throughout your bowling career, you'll have to run through this rating list periodically just to keep yourself "tuned up."

Even the best professional bowlers in the world have slumps where they have to go back to the drawing board in order to fix bad habits they've picked up seemingly "overnight."

The easiest way for any bowler to fix the problems with their fundamentals is to concentrate on them one at a time.

I'm certain you'll find that your game will improve at a more steady pace instead of being stalled at a plateau, not seeming to get better at all.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Should I Copy Another Bowler's Style?

The basic fundamentals of our sport are solid foundations to strive for - firm starting position, excellent timing, rock solid ending position ("Posting"), and release of the bowling ball for maximum leverage.

If you have all those fundamentals in place, does it matter how many steps you take?

Does it matter if you use one hand or two?

Does it matter if you are a stroker or a cranker?

Or does it matter it you throw a hook or a back-up ball (reverse hook)?

You need to be comfortable in your own style when you're bowling and to this point, I want you to remember that, "you are unique, just like everyone else."

Let's take a look at some famous bowlers from the past and present who exemplify their own styles; but, still had all the basics "down pat:"

Lou Campi - "Wrong Foot Louie" was a right-hander who ended up on the right foot instead of the left.

Lee Juuglard - used a 3-step approach and a used a bowling grip that was finger-tip for the middle finger and conventional-grip for his ring finger.

Harry Smith - who not only was constantly moving during his starting stance, but, also took an unusually long hop after his final step.

Don Carter - how can anyone forget his bent elbow, "no backswing" style and how he seemed to push the ball down the lane with the palm of his hand?

Billy Hardwick - he used his index finger and middle finger rather than the "regular" middle finger and ring finger. On top of that, he threw a full-roller.

Mark Roth - was it a 6-step or 7-step approach and having to "screw" his thumb into the ball?

Jason Belmonte - the guy who uses both hands rather than letting one arm swing the ball.

James Cripps - the backwards bowler.

Walter Ray Williams and Earl Anthony - strokers.

Robert Smith and Jason Couch - crankers.

Chris Barnes - he's called a "tweener," which is nothing more than between a stroker and a cranker.

As far as "no thumbhole, fingers only" and "reverse hook (back-up)" bowlers, if you bowl often enough, you will see some very successful people at the local level who do use those styles.

I currently know of several "no thumbhole" and just as many "back-up" style bowlers who average 200 and beyond.

I could go on-and-on giving examples of people who carry high averages with a vast array of styles.

When you get down to the final analysis, though, they all developed their game around the sound, basic fundamentals of the sport. (See the first paragraph of this article.)

When you decide that you want to take your game to a higher level, keep in mind that "substance rather than style" will be your key to attaining that higher average.

Concentrate on getting your balance, timing, and leverage sharpened to the highest level possible.

Be comfortable in your own uniqueness and you'll be more successful than if you try to copy someone else's form.

Think of it this way, "will you enjoy yourself more it you can do it your way or by being someone else's clone?"


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Why Bowl For Score When Practicing?

I get a lot of bowlers who make comments like, "I practiced on Tuesday and bowled terrific; but, in tonight's league, I'm doing terrible" or "I shot a 268 in practice on Wednesday and now I can't hit the pocket to save my soul."

I try to explain to them that those comparisons are the same as "apples-to-oranges" because it's a different day, different lane condition, and different environment.

Still, they continue to practice bowling worrying about their score rather than working on their game.

You can't practice in league or any other form of competition. You should practice during your practice sessions so that you'll be ready for competition.

We all have to practice to become better bowlers.

Are you the type that only cares about how high your practice scores are or are you the type that ignores the score and works on improving the fundamentals of your game?

If you are the latter, than this article will be of interest to you.

There are, no doubt, many different practice routines out there.

Over the years, I have picked up a few that I will use at various times when I practice.

The first and foremost thing you have to get in your mind is to never, ever worry about your score when you are practicing.

Here are five of the routines I generally use:

(Note: While I'm now a multiple ball user, I used these same, slightly modified routines when I only had my one Manhattan Rubber bowling ball - for example, instead of a spare ball, use a house ball of the rack.)

1) Bowl using only your spare ball, if you have one. This will force you to try a different line or angle to the pocket. It will also make you throw a tighter line than you are probably used to. Moreover, what happens if you get into a competitive situation where you only have your spare ball to bowl with?

2) Bowl using a different target (mark) in each frame. I do this exercise as follows: 1st frame, 1st arrow (five board); 2nd frame, 2nd arrow (10 board); 3rd frame, 3rd arrow (15 board); 4th frame, 4th arrow (20 board); 5th frame, 5th arrow (25 board).

From the 6th frame on, reverse the steps starting with the 25 board. This will force you to think about how your ball normally breaks and how you have to adjust your shot to the pocket in order to accommodate for the different angles.

3) If you have multiple balls, use a different ball for each throw. I set my four balls on the ball rack in no particular order. Always picking up the last ball in line, I just keep going until the 10 frames are completed or until I choose to stop. This gives you a pretty good workout because you are continuously in motion and you will feel yourself perspiring a little.

4) Bowl to practice the 10 pin spare. Here are two methods - a) shoot every shot only at the 10 pin until you can pick it off cleanly, on a consistent basis, without hitting any other pins in the rack; and, b) aim at the 10 pin on your first ball and pick up what's left with your second ball.

5) Bowl games using only one target or mark. (Use only the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th arrows for this routine.) If you pick the 2nd arrow, then all strike balls and spare balls must use only that target or mark.

As I said earlier, there are many variations and/or different methods.

Whether you've heard of these five methods or not, I hope you take the overall attitude that in practice, scores do not matter; rather, improving and sharpening your bowling skills are what's important.