October 3, 2011

Week 9 Pre-Bowl Recap

Game 1: 180
Game 2: 196
Game 3: 203
Series: 579
Week Avg: 193
Season Avg: to be determined 189

Every season I find at least one week that I am unable to attend bowling at its normally scheduled day and time.  Luckily, I am in a league that allows people to pre-bowl.  I will be pre-bowling for weeks 9 and 10 the next couple of weekends, which is good for you because that means twice as many posts the next two weeks.  Its also good for me because I will have the opportunity to work out any issues that arise on Thursday night.  And don't worry, I won't leave you high and dry in the two weeks I miss.  I'm planning an appropriate post on whether pre-bowling provides an advantage or disadvantage for a bowler.


Everything is different on Sunday at noon when compared to my usual league time of 6:30PM on Thursday.  For one, the center is really quiet.  There weren't any other people bowling on my side of the center, but there were plenty of people milling around waiting for the start of a bowling/Steelers game watching party.  Apart from the ambiance of the center, the lanes are always much drier on Sundays.  I knew I would be playing a bigger hook, and found a decent line standing four boards left of where I was on Thursday and shooting one board left of the second arrow.  Unfortunately I was having a difficult time hitting my mark and found myself either coming into the pocket about two boards too light or hitting the left side of the headpin.  Luckily, this allowed me to shoot a 10-pin and a few 7-pins before practice was over.  After throwing the equivalent of a complete game of practice, time ran out and I was confident that as long as I hit my mark I would have a decent shot at striking.

I started off the first game with a few light hits and a strike, but converted my first three spares.  In the fifth frame I missed a 7-pin because I missed my mark to the right.  I managed to stay clean the rest of the game, converting several more 7-pins and my best friend the 10-pin.  I even made the 3-10 split.  My spare shooting confidence was returning and I finished the game with a 180.

The second game started pretty similar to the first.  I had a couple of spares and a strike, but I was still missing my mark about a board to the right or left and that was making a big difference in the backend.  I tried moving a half board right to force myself to throw over my mark and I tried moving back a few inches to give the ball more time to react; however, as I would later realize, the real battle here was with my mechanics, not the lanes.  After missing a 7-pin in the fourth frame I decided to move my mark an inch closer to me.  This worked for a while and I was striking a bit more and not coming in as light in the pocket.  I either struck or had a nine-count spare through the rest of the game and finished with a 196.

The third game started about the same with a spare and a strike.  In the third frame I hit way light and left the 2-4-8.  I made a bad decision on how to approach the shot, thinking that the ball would still hook in the middle of the lane because of how dry the lanes were closer to the gutter, and just barely kicked out the 2-pin.  I spared and then missed my third 7-pin of the day.  On that shot I realized that I wasn't getting nearly as much lift on the ball as I usually do.  The ball was just falling off of my hand with less revolutions, thus causing the ball to list lazily into the pocket rather than grabbing the lanes and driving through the rack.  I really focused on staying behind the ball and getting good revs from then on and I struck in the sixth and seventh frames.  I made a 10-pin in the eighth frame and then struck out, throwing a 203 and a 579 series.  Its over what my average is right now, but by the time these scores are applied in week 9 I hope my average is somewhere closer to that.

Lesson Learned

My spare shot confidence is back! I hope this carries into Thursday night, as my scores were greatly improved because of it.

Its easy to think there is some adjustment you can make in body position or that a change in your target will correct any issue you might have.  If you have been bowling for a while, muscle memory tends to take over much of your approach and release, so nine times out of ten that is correct.  But there is always that one time where something in your mechanics is the problem, and you need to be able to identify that quickly and be able to distinguish those problems from those attributed to the lanes.  During this outing, I was trying to use lane and body adjustments to correct a mechanical problem.  My follow through and ball release were lazy, causing the ball to have less revolutions and less power in the backend.  Once I was willing to look at what I was doing, instead of how the lanes were reacting, I was able to quickly diagnose the problem.  By concentrating harder on my release and my hand position as I let go of the ball, my inaccuracy seemed to disappear as well.

Its amazing how our minds work.  If we concentrate especially hard on one aspect of our mechanics, the rest all seems to come together.

Do you have any tips on how to identify whether a problem is caused by body mechanics or the lanes?


  1. Thanks for the insight, Zach. I seem to be your polar opposite when it comes to analysis; I need to spend more thought on what I'm doing wrong instead (or why) and less time blaming the lanes, my bad luck or the bowling gods.

  2. I've been bowling for 15 of my 26 years, so I've built up a confidence to trust what my body is doing. Once you reach that point, bowling becomes a mental game instead of a physical one. And once you reach that point, its about trusting your instincts and ability to read the lanes. That is where I currently find myself.

    At this point, you are still training your body and developing muscle memory, so the most important thing is to make sure you aren't retaining bad habits. Its hard getting to the point where muscle memory takes over. Its even harder to break a bad habit once you pass that threshold.