Game 1: 226
Game 2: 160
Game 3: 185
Week Avg: 190
Season Avg: 195
Last night had a little bit of everything. During practice it was easy to see that oil had been pushed into the backend, causing the ball to break just before hitting the pins rather than a feet few out. After some moving around I managed to throw a turkey as practice finished up and was fairly confident heading into the first game.
The first game started with a spare and then I missed the 2-pin in the second frame. I hadn't shot anything on the left side of the lane up to that point and found that the backend on that side was considerably drier and thus hooking a little more. I came into the pocket light in both frames so I made a small adjustment back on the approach and hit five strikes in a row. I managed to keep the rest of the game clean; however I pulled my first ball in the tenth frame, came in pretty high and was lucky enough to avoid a split. I did the same on my third ball in the tenth, but finished with my high game of the season so far with a 226. Its hard to be disappointed with that, but the missed 2-pin, a pretty routine pickup, and those missed opportunities in the tenth ruined a potential 240 or higher.
The second game began with me missing the 9-pin. I was standing a little too far right and missed it by probably half a board. The backend began to dry and the ball started to come in high so I moved left half a board to bring it back into the pocket. I had a few spares and a strike until the fifth frame where I left the 1-7-10. That has to be a first for me, it was pretty ugly. I came in really light and barely tapped the 3-pin to take out the 2-pin and the rest just kind of fell back. I managed to pick up two of the three pins and was fairly close to knocking out the 10-pin from behind. I was light two more times in the second half of the game and left the 2-6-10 and another split in the ninth frame. Usually there is some room for error in hitting your mark and the pocket, but last night was unforgiving. I managed to followup my best game of the season with my worst of the season with a 160.
The last game picked up exactly where the first left off and I missed the 4-pin, another routine shot. Clearly I was doing something wrong causing me to be inconsistent in hitting my marks. I really concentrated and managed to stay clean up to the ninth frame where I missed the 6-pin. I had plenty of practice with spares on the left side last night and was getting a little frustrated. In the tenth frame I decided to change where I held the ball at the start of my release, holding it further to the right and facilitating a straighter follow through to my target than usual. I managed to strike out and finish with a 185.
There were a few things that I needed to evaluate last night, and more importantly need to keep in mind for the future. The first is to not make an adjustment too soon. While being able to read the lanes and make changes without sacrificing your score is a mark of a great bowler, sometimes we adjust one aspect of our game when there is something else causing the problem. Last night, for example, I changed where I was standing on the approach because I began to come in high in the pocket; however, once I moved I was consistently coming in light and I paid for that adjustment with the 1-7-10 and two splits I left in the second game. My body position was not the problem, it was my inconsistency in hitting my target and the fact that the lanes provided no room for error.
The second thing is to remember to keep your cool. If you are frustrated by how you are bowling, it can cloud your judgement and cause you to make bad decisions. It can also inadvertently alter your game by increasing ball speed and other aspects that are typically things you usually don't think about. This will just make things worse. I was pretty frustrated with how things were going in the second game and into the third, and my score shows it. I essentially cost myself a pretty decent 600 series because my frustration was blinding me to the real problem, which was my arm swing and release.
The third thing is to not be afraid to try something drastic to break yourself of a problem, especially during a game that is essentially lost. In the third game I realized that I was the problem and not the lane, and struggled through most of the game trying to figure out how to consistently hit my target. In the tenth frame I decided to hold the ball further to the right of my body at the start of my approach, allowing me to drop the ball straight down and back. This minimized the movement of my arm and the ball and provided for a straight line to my mark. I usually hold the ball to the right, but a little closer to my body, so my push off is typically out and to the right slightly. The change must have worked because I finished the game with a turkey.
Sometimes we just need to hit the reset button. If things seem to be getting out of hand take a deep breath, talk a walk around the bowling center, and start over again.
How do you deal with a frustrating night at the alley?