Game 1: 141
Game 2: 153
Game 3: 227
Week Avg: 173
Season Avg: 188
Last night I fell victim to bad practice decisions, and it cost me in my first and second games. I threw four straight strikes in practice, which sounds like a good thing. I was going to use my fifth practice frame to shoot the corner pins and get a feel for my spare shots, but I ran out of time. Entering the first game I was only able to speculate at how my ball would react shooting at the 7-pin, and for that matter, how much my ball would move while shooting at the 10-pin. The lanes were a little drier than last week, so I knew I would have a bit of a hook to work with.
The first game began with my fifth strike in a row, but I left and missed the 10-pin in the second frame. I did not have the concentration needed on my spare shot, which I knew because I couldn't recall where my ball crossed the arrows. Through the rest of the game I left two more ringing 10-pins, a 2-pin, and a 2-10 split. Of those, I converted only one 10-pin and picked up the 2-pin of the split. I managed to get a few strikes, all on the right lane and finished with a 141, my worst performance of the season. My problem on the left lane was that the ball was just a hair too high in the pocket, a common cause for a solid 10-pin leave. I tried two of my most reliable adjustments, moving up and moving left on the approach, but the ball was still coming in a little high. The difference between a strike and leaving the 10-pin was less than one inch, and as it would eventually turn out, the successful adjustment would also be the matter of an inch.
The second game started with another 10-pin leave. After this shot, I decided to try increasing my ball speed on the left lane. This adjustment gives the ball a little less time to get to the pocket and I hoped it would make up for that one board difference I needed for a strike. I find that this adjustment comes with a risk of throwing off some of my mechanics, so I tend to leave this as a last option. During the first half of the game I kept it clean on the right lane, picking up a strike and a 10-pin spare (a result of that lane beginning to run high), but I still couldn't solve the mystery of the ringing 10-pin on the left lane. Finally, I decided that instead of changing body position or ball speed, I would look about an inch past where my mark was. This gets the ball a little further down the lane resulting in a later break toward the pocket. In addition, this adjustment also has a tendency to force the bowler to follow through, assisting in accuracy. I missed a 4-pin and another 10-pin, but I finished the game with a 153 and some much needed confidence going into the final game. I made a few spares and I was consistently in the pocket, what wasn't to like?
The last game was glorious compared to the rest of the evening. I was striking on both lanes. I converted my last 10-pin, a 4-pin, a 6-pin and the 4-7 leaves. It is amazing how confidence can change an evening. My new mark had the ball coming in a little lighter than I usually like, but the pins were falling so I wasn't about to change anything. I needed a 279 to hit my average for the night, and I finished with a clean 227 which is my highest game of the season and a 521 series, another season low. This was a respectable finish to an embarrassing evening.
Stay patient and don't quit.
After three weeks of sub-par totals and watching my average plummet ten pins, I am officially in a slump. Its frustrating, but I am trying to make this a learning experience and get it out of the way early in the season.
The second game was probably the best 153 I will ever throw. Every hit was in the pocket and that game could have just as easily been in the 280s or (dare I say) higher. Every ball was a strike or a nine-count. As far as my first ball is concerned, last night was the most consistent I have ever been. This type of consistency allowed me to try all of the above mentioned adjustments without further damaging my score.
That being said, there were other factors having a negative impact on my score. I was 3 for 7 in converting 10-pins and I missed the 2-pin and 4-pin. Much like last week, missed spares, especially single pin spares, destroyed my first two games. Three of my four missed 10-pins saw the ball pass to the left of the pin so closely you could barely put a piece of paper between them. The adjustment that solved that problem was the same that fixed leaving the 10-pin in the first place, looking just past my mark. Though I think that adjustment was more about correcting my follow through than playing the lanes. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that I was "chicken winging" my arm on my spare shots. Once I tucked my elbow back in as a result of the adjustment I started converting my spares.
How do you handle leaving the 10-pin on what appears to be a good strike ball? Do you make any adjustments to correct the issue?