March 2, 2012

Week 27 Recap

Game 1: 193
Game 2: 186
Game 3: 190
Series: 569
Week Avg: 189
Season Avg: 192


Practice had sort of an ominous feel to it last night. The right lane took over 5 minutes to set the first rack of pins, the approach was pretty tacky near the foul lines, and the heavy oil made its triumphant return.

The first game started with two light pocket hits. I left and missed the 7-pin and the 2-pin in the first and second frames. A better hit in the third frame left the 5-pin, which I fortunately converted. There wasn't much room for error last night. High pocket and Brooklyn hits were carrying, but lighter hits were not. If I missed my mark as much as a board to the right the ball would barely tap the head pin, but if I missed more than a board left the ball would cross left of center. I threw a turkey and then followed it with another 7-pin.  I overcompensated from the first frame leave and the ball dropped into the gutter just ahead of the pin. I threw a couple more strikes, but opened on my third ball in the tenth frame. I finished just over average with a 193.

The transition game started with a spare, but then I missed the 3-10 split. By the end of the first game I could see that the backend was pretty much nonexistent because the oil pushed so far down the lane. I fished around for a good line the entire game, but had a difficult time finding the pocket. I would adjust to a high hit by moving up, but that didn't help. Then I would move left, but the ball would hang out toward the gutter too far down the lane and I would hit light. I doubled twice, but no thing very substantial happened until the tenth frame when I resolved to just sit tight with the light pocket hits for a few balls and create a line by pushing the oil out of the way. I finished the game with a 186.

The third game started with a turkey. I could tell that my plan from the second game was working because the ball started to hook a little earlier in the backend.  I left the 8-10 split in the fourth frame after hitting an oil patch just before the pocket, sending the ball skidding rather than driving through the pins. I picked up a couple more strikes before I started to run a little high. I moved up to compensate in the eighth frame and found the pocket again, but by then the lanes changed a little bit with every ball. I picked up 19 in the tenth frame to finish out with a 190 game and a 569 series. I also won brackets for the second week in a row.

Lesson Learned

It was a tight line all night and I was neither accurate nor consistent enough to make any real headway. I moved in a 2"x6" adjustment rectangle for most of the evening trying to locate the right combination of body position, target and entry angle to no avail. I had very few shots where all three variables came together for a good hit. This was mostly an extension of the missing my mark problem, which is not to say that I missed my target by much, there just wasn't a safety zone to fall back on like their was last week.

One thing I need to start working on is learning from my bad shots in addition to the good ones. If I miss my mark or have a poor release, what information about the lanes can I glean from that shot so that I don't have to wait to throw a perfect ball before I make an adjustment. I spent three or four frames of the second game waiting to throw a decent ball so that I could decide how to adjust. That is three frames where I could be settling into a preferred line or reading changing oil patterns wasted because I am only worried about how to fix what I did wrong. It is another facet of the game to consider between frames and something that is going to take some time to work into my usual post-shot analysis.


  1. Your night sounded a lot like how my week has gone, except for the 3rd game turkey. I'll fish for a good line for most of the night, not have any luck and end up with a frustrating series result.

    From what I read from the pros, they seem to go to a ball change when their ball shape isn't right, leaving flat 10s and hooking early etc. The problem is, we don't carry 8 balls nor do we have a 2nd pair of eyes in the form of a ball rep.

    I wonder why our lanes have heavy oil one week and light the next? One of my teammates believes the length of our house shot varies from 38 feet to 32 feet from week to week, league to league. Is that something that houses do?

  2. Matt, I share your impression that pros or more "hardcore" bowlers will switch balls when they don't like how the ball is reacting. But like you I also cannot carry around every ball made by a certain manufacturer each night.

    As league bowlers on house oil patterns, there is an expectation that the lanes will be a little more forgiving because the typical house pattern is designed for multiple entry angles and drier safety zones near the gutters. Depending on the house, it is not out of the ordinary for a league to use lanes that have not been oiled in several hours. They may have been used by the public, other leagues, or just bored employees enjoying a slow day. In those cases, the oil can get pushed around the lane making for some unique and difficult shots.

    I'm not certain how often a center typically changes the oil pattern they put down. I know the pattern during my league did a 180 at the halfway point as a result of one team complaining about particularly dry conditions one night. But from what I am reading each night, not only did they make sure to increase the amount of oil on the lane, they also altered the pattern to something that covers the entire width of the lane. I watched a video recently describing the US Open pattern and frankly it sounded a lot like the conditions I am facing on Thursdays. But I might just be paranoid.

    1. Last night, I asked the house pro how long the pattern was and he said he wasn't sure but if he had to guess, he'd say it was around 34 feet. How the heck does he NOT know what pattern he's laying down each night?

      My new mission this month will be to find out what pattern and oil volume is used during each of my leagues. I have a sneaking suspicion that I've been bowling on different patterns each night, whether it be the oil volume or length of the pattern.

  3. Matt, that's a pretty good idea. Do you bowl in the same house each night, or in different houses? It might also be worth asking whether they oil them right before the league starts or if the oil has been on the lane for some time prior to your arrival.

    I would really enjoy a blog post on your findings

    1. I bowl in 2 different centers. I'm pretty sure fresh oil is laid down before all 4 of my leagues but someone once told me that just because you see the machine go up and down the lanes doesn't mean oil is being applied. It could just be buffing the lanes. Any truth to that?

    2. I'm not sure about that one. I'd add it to your list of things to ask the house pro