Game 1: 181
Game 2: 207
Game 3: 181
Week Avg: 189
Season Avg: 188
All eight bowlers were present and right handed, so once again I knew going into the night that reading the lanes was going to be an important part of the evening. I threw three frames of practice, and although I didn't have a good pocket hit I was fairly confident going in that I knew where I needed to be to start the game. I also had a chance to shoot a 7-pin and a 10-pin, which is always nice.
The first game began with a few light pocket shots, but I was able to pick up my spares and move on. I left an 8-pin on one shot, but I misplayed my second ball, which slid down the middle of the lane and missed the pin about two inches to the right. I moved right a board for my first ball, but that adjustment wasn't enough. I picked up that spare and on the next ball I moved back a little bit, but that also wasn't doing the trick. I left a 2-7 split and chopped the 2-pin head on for another open. When I missed my mark a board to the right, the ball would hook earlier and come in too high and if I missed my mark to the left it would skid through a lot of oil in the middle and not really break at all, so I wanted to keep my mark where it was for the time being. I managed to keep it clean through the game and had a 181.
The second game started with a ten pin spare. I was now coming in too high from where I was, so I knew I had to make an adjustment back the other way. Before the second frame I thought that given how high I came in on my last ball that I should move left a board and up about an inch. At the last second on the approach I second-guessed myself and only moved left a board. As a result, I came in high leaving the 6-7-9-10 split. To make it worse, I missed my mark to the left on the spare shot and only picked up the 9-pin instead of the whole three pin group. I moved up a little and the next shot was better, but now it was coming in a little light. The next frame I decided to slow my ball speed just a bit to compensate for that extra board I needed for a good pocket hit. It was like magic. I fired off a few strikes and single pin spares, including a strike the first ball of the tenth frame. The next ball came in a little light leaving the 7-pin, which I
barely missed in the gutter. It actually popped out of the gutter and knocked it down, which is like adding insult to injury. I finished with a 207, but that open in the tenth cost us the game.
The third game started with a turkey, which I promptly followed up with a 7-10 split. I took the 10-pin on that shot and spent the rest of the game battling with drying lane conditions. From the last half of the second game through the rest of the night the ball would hook a little more on each shot. At first I stayed where I was and adjusted back to my normal ball speed, but after a while that wasn't enough. I was hitting the pocket, but the 10-pin was calling my name. Luckily I didn't miss that shot all night. I had a strike or two mixed in, but in the tenth frame I left the 4-9 split as a result of a very high pocket hit. Instead of going for one, I tried to make the split and missed the 4-pin just to the left. I finished with another 181 game and a 569 series, averaging one pin over my current 188 average. Luckily the last game was enough to win us the game and series, and win me the brackets for the night, putting some money in my pocket.
This week I bowled against the best guy in the league, who averages about 210. We both anchor our respective teams and are very similar in our approach to the game, the way we throw the ball, how we adjust to the lane conditions, we were even throwing the same exact line last night. The main difference between us is consistency. Bruce very rarely misses his mark on the lanes, while I tend to miss my mark at least two or three times per game. With my spare shooting troubles seemingly overcome for the time being, this is one of the biggest roadblocks in my game.
Bruce was up on me by two pins after the second game, but closed out with a 212. His 602 total was under average for him, but he didn't really seem to mind. Throughout the night I noticed he was battling the same problems as me. Once we finished, I was talking with Bruce and another bowler in the league, Mike, who averages about 195, about what our "go to" adjustment is for leaving the solid 10-pin. Bruce preferred moving one board left because he felt that even if he came in light initially, the 4-pin was an easier spare and eventually that shot would start to carry. Mike preferred to speed up his delivery so that the increased ball speed would allow less time for the ball to hook. Bruce and I both expressed concern that changes in ball speed, while potentially effective, are a last resort for us due to the possibility that the synchronization of the entire delivery would be effected. As you may have noticed by now, I prefer to move up on the approach a couple of inches so the ball has less room to hook into the pocket. If I am already moved up and still coming in high, then I move left.
After talking with these guys for a while, my confidence in how I read the lanes and adjust skyrocketed. I am totally in sync with what these guys are doing, and its really just a matter of trusting myself. I second guessed myself in the second game and it cost me last night. But I think now that I had this little chat, I feel ready to trust my instincts from now on.