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.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Oil On The Surface Of Bowling Balls

My friend, Perry, asked a great question awhile back. (We do things so habitually that the thought and question had never come up before then.)

The question was, "Why don't we wipe the oil off the ball AFTER EVERY TIME we throw rather than letting it soak into the ball?" That was really a great question that Perry asked.

He explained that when he threw his reactive resin bowling ball, he could visually see the oil on the surface of the ball. He then went ahead and threw his polyurethane spare ball and walked back to sit down. When he came up for his next frame, he looked at his reactive ball and there was virtually no oil on the surface - most of it had soaked in to the ball.

Our habit is to wipe off our bowling balls BEFORE we get ready to throw our strike ball, which, by then, a lot of the oil has soaked into the ball.

On a related note, my girlfriend got her Urethane bowling ball because she didn't care for the way that a reactive resin ball had so much over- and under-reaction as the night of league play progressed. By the third game, the lanes had broken down so much that she couldn't control where her ball went.

Her feeling was that if she got a ball that went straighter all the time, it would be easier to control, especially at her age and ball speed. Since she's been throwing the urethane ball, oil always shows up after every throw.

When we're bowling, nothing may show up on my reactive resin balls; but, hers always tracks oil. When others comment about how the lanes have dried up, she shows them her ball track and they can visibly see how much oil is still on the lane.


There are tons of articles written about oil soaking into bowling balls and how they will affect the reaction of the ball. Over time, the ball can lose its reactive properties and will, essentially, be a useless ball with regards to its effectiveness in cutting through lane oil and giving you the powerful reaction that you want.

There are also tons of hints, tips, and suggestions about how to wash and clean reactive resins in order to keep them in top performing condition. There are recommended periods of time and usage when it is highly important that you re-vitalize your ball and get all the oil removed from its "innards."

Incidentally, for about three weeks, I made an effort to wipe my reactive resin bowling ball after my first ball (which I always did anyway); but, I would stand at the ball return and wipe my ball AFTER MY SECOND THROW.

Well, that only caused a "traffic jam" because I was constantly in the way of the next person coming up to bowl. Which, of course, delayed our bowling progress such that we were always the last teams to finish competition.

For practical reasons, I had to stop trying to wipe my bowling balls after each throw because no one else was in the same frame of mind as me. I had to resign myself to doing the best I could to minimize the oil soaking into the ball between shots.

So it's come down to the fact that we're not going to be able to prevent all of the oil from being soaked into the ball; but, we should do our utmost to keep the "soaking in" to the minimum amount possible.



Monday, July 3, 2017

Becoming Better Bowling Students

We need to become better bowling students. The problem is that we're trying to get our games to come together quickly because we have to bowl in leagues all week. We need to step back and begin to practice in the right way until we actually get each piece correct and then put it all together.

I was told at age 15 that I should learn “timing” first - out on one, down on two, back on three, and through on four (4-step approach). The problem was, I became very mechanical with this type of thought process and it didn't matter how good my “timing” was if my “release” was all out of whack.

So, I concentrated on my “release,” which really helped me to be more consistent, but I lacked “power,” because my “timing” got thrown off and I couldn’t get into a very good “leverage” position. I suppose this is why I eventually started "muscling" the ball, forcing my body to be in the right position at the right time.

Now. I've gone to a Free Swing and suddenly, “timing” means a lot more, but so does my “release.” So, I've now come to the conclusion that “timing” and “release” should have equal weight of importance. However, trying to get both right at the same time may not be so easy.

I think Brian Voss has it right. Get the “timing” correct first, but do so by breaking it up into segments. Right now we’re still trying to work on what he says ALL AT THE SAME TIME. We’re finding that getting our games to a higher level difficult and confusing at times.

Why do we find it so hard to follow the instructions of the "Master" and do what he asks us to do? I believe it's because of bad habits we’ve developed over time. We have the tendency to want things to happen “overnight.“ We’ve become poor students when it comes to learning new and different things. There are no “quick fixes.”

Therefore, here’s how I think we should proceed (4-step approach, but for 5-steps, it’s the 2nd step, for 6-steps, the 3rd, and so forth):

Segment 1 - Get the first step and swing correct before anything else;

Segment 2 - Get the first two steps and swing correct;

Segment 3 - Get the Power Step correct;

Segment 4 - Get the Finish correct correct;

Segment 5 - Get them all together into one continuous and flowing approach.

Then, and only then, can we can work on releases and ball speeds, and whatever else we feel would improve our game. If we attempt to fine tune our bowling without getting a firm, solid foundation of the basics, we’ll be setting new techniques on shaky ground and not really be improving anything.

In between leagues, at home or on the lanes at practice, we need to get each step correct piece-by-piece. I feel that Segment 1, above, seems to be the most critical and that‘s why Brian Voss begins his elite training classes that way. If you get that one right, then the rest of the segments, should follow.

Practice, practice, practice - at home, at the office, or on the lanes; but, get the First Step and Swing in the right position so it becomes second nature instead of trying each night in league to get all the steps right.



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