February 14, 2012

Week 24 Recap

Game 1: 160
Game 2: 170
Game 3: 215
Series: 545
Week Avg: 181
Season Avg: 191


I was a little worried heading into Thursday night because on Wednesday afternoon I had put a pretty deep slice in the thumb on my bowling hand. Then, later Wednesday evening, I had scraped off a chunk of skin on the first knuckle of the ring finger on my bowling hand. Both of these cuts were on areas that see a lot of friction during the games and I wasn't sure how they would hold up over the course of the night. I arrived early and applied two layers of New Skin Liquid Bandage (never go to the alley without it)  to both cuts and they did manage to hold throughout the night.

The story of the third quarter has been the lane conditions and practice showed that once again there was heavy oil; however, each week there seems to be a little less. I found a line similar to last week's and was pretty comfortable going into the first game.

I wasn't striking much, but I was picking up my spares. That is until I missed a 10-pin because I was standing a little too far to the left.  I haven't been switching to my plastic ball to shoot the 10-pin because the heavy oil has kept the shot pretty straight. I started missing my mark to the left about half way through the first game, but luckily didn't leave many splits. I say "many" instead of "any" because I did leave and miss the 5-10. Nothing is more frustrating than having a good line to the pocket, but not being able to hit that line. I realized that I was missing my mark left because my body was getting to the foul line before the ball. I made a conscious effort to concentrate on my release and my accuracy improved. The lack of strikes and the two opens had done their damage and I finished with an abysmal 160.

The second game didn't get much better. I came in light and left the 1-2-10, leaving the 10-pin standing. I made the rest of my spares until the ninth frame where I missed an easy 6-pin. I started missing my mark to the left again in this game, but it was not due to the decreased ball speed like it was in the first game. I kept throwing the same line hoping I could correct it through concentration as I finished out the second game. I ended with a 170, but felt that I was throwing a bit better heading into the last game.

At the beginning of the third game I moved my body one board to the left. I started to hit my mark again, and then it was only a matter of dialing in the shot. I began striking and picked up all of my spares. The lanes did start to hook a bit more beginning in the sixth frame so I changed my ball speed and approach back to my normal pace. I struck the last four in a row and finished up with a 215, salvaging an embarrassing performance with only a poor series of 545. We lost the quarter after the second game, but picked up a win in the last game if for nothing else but our dignity.

Lesson Learned

I know it sounds pretty simple, but diagnosing a problem and correcting a problem are two very different things. In the first game I spent three or four frames trying to correct the problem of missing my target before I realized that I was getting to the line before the ball. As a result I was bringing the ball through the last half of my swing too quickly, releasing the ball late and pulling my shot to the left. This was the problem I feared when beginning to use the slower ball speed. Once I diagnosed the issue I was able to concentrate enough in a few frames to get everything back in sync.

During the second game the same problem appeared, only the cause was different. I spent much of the game trying to throw through the issue, hoping that eventually my concentration would just magically correct it. It did not. Then I decided to move my body a board left, hoping that by changing the angle of my throw slightly I would be more likely to hit my mark. This got me through the end of the second game but still was not 100% effective. In the third game I finally remembered my trick for these types of situations. I held the ball a few inches more to the right at the beginning of my approach and voila! I was over my mark every ball from there on out.

As I've mentioned before, this adjustment allows me to have a smoother and straighter backswing. It is a little uncomfortable at first, but I can't argue with the results. I think it took me a little longer than usual to get to this adjustment because I was so caught up in my leaves and poor scores.  Its difficult, but sometimes we need to step out of the situation and look at what is going on from the outside in. As you replay the shots in your head and ask yourself how that one problem can be corrected, without thinking about the score at that moment and the frustration that comes along with it, the solution will often make itself apparent.

Looking ahead to the off season, I think I need to make an effort to incorporate this technique change into my approach full time. By solidifying a smoother and more accurate backswing, I can eliminate one of the most frequent issues in my game.

Third Quarter Season Review

At the end of the second quarter my average was 192. I am now at a 191. I have been pretty up and down this quarter, throwing my worst and second best series of the season on back to back weeks.

My biggest issue this quarter was adapting to changing lane conditions. I had a hard time adjusting to the heavy oil, but I did manage to find a shot that worked for me. Once I found that shot, it was a matter of correcting all the small things that plague my game.

I threw ten 200 games this quarter, about 42% of the games. Week 18 saw my first night of the season with all three games in the 200s, a feat I would like to replicate a few more times this season. Overall, I averaged 189 for the quarter, which is unacceptable for me. I need to finish with an average of 192 just to get back to last year's average, but I really need to pick up my game if I want to get to my goal of gaining a pin or two in my season average.

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