November 22, 2011

What I'm Thankful For

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought I would share with you some of the things I am thankful for this league season:


While the bird is tastey, I prefer the kind of turkey that is comprised of three big Xs.  A turkey can help you salvage a less than stellar game in a big way.  It is also a great indication that you have got the lanes figured out.  The best kind of turkeys are the ones that travel in a group of four, but all turkeys are welcome when I'm on the lanes.  If nothing else, the appearance of a turkey can usually get one of my teammates to gobble.

Messenger Pin

I am ever so thankful for the messenger pin, when it decides to make an appearance on the lanes.  This pin usually turns a frustrating solid 10-pin into a strike or saves me from the embarassment of a 7-10 split, so what's not to like?  Besides, the messenger gives me the opportunity to turn around with an "I-knew-I-had-it-all-the-way" smile on my face.

Heavy Oil Down the Middle

I'm not a terribly accurate bowler, but luckily I am usually close enough to my marks that I can rely on the oil pattern to save me from a truly awful hit.  I'm particularly thankful when there is heavy oil down the middle of the lane, as this prevents my ball from either crossing over in front of the headpin or hooking right off the lane altogether.  I cannot begin to count the number of times this oil has saved me from a big split or missing the 4-pin.

That Guy Bowling Worse Than Me

I am always truly thankful to that one bowler each week who is doing worse than I am.  No matter how far underaverage I may be, on any given week there is always someone who is doing worse.  It really puts things in perspective: "Man, I sure sucked tonight, but at least I'm not that guy."   So I give thanks, whoever you are, for making my next bad night seem not so bad.

What are you thankful for this league season?

November 18, 2011

Week 13 Recap

Game 1: 213
Game 2: 170
Game 3: 165
Series: 548
Week Avg: 182
Season Avg: 191


Practice was not a source of confidence this week as I struggled to hit my mark and really didn't pull off a single good strike ball in the 10 minute session. There was a lot of oil in the first 2/3 of the lanes, so much so that the ball would come back practically dripping with oil. I anticipated that the lanes would change quickly tonight given that four of us threw a pretty similar line; however, with this much oil there wasn't really a change until the beginning of the third game.

The first eight frames of the first game could have easily been all strikes. The ball held nicely until the back end and was driving through the rack. Lighter hits tended to carry a little better than higher ones. I started with a four bagger, then came in light to leave a 10-pin and then high to leave a 7-pin. I missed both. I got back on track with a few good balls and then missed my mark to the right in the ninth frame, hanging the ball outside and leaving the 1-2-4, which I converted. I struck out in the tenth, finishing with a 213.

The second game started off with a couple of spares before leaving the 1-2-4 again, this time only picking up the 1- and 4-pins. I struck and then had what looked to be another great hit, but I left a solid 8-10 split. I stayed clean until the ninth frame, picking up a few strikes and spares, but always hitting a little high or a little light. In the ninth frame I almost left the 5-7 split, but the 7-pin fell. Unfortunately, I failed to convert a 5-pin. That's right, I missed a 5-pin in the ninth frame. I filled the tenth, but there was no salvaging this game, a dismal 170.

The beginning of the third game saw me fighting to get back on track to consistently hit my mark. I missed another 10-pin and finished 3 for 5 on that leave. I also failed to pick up the 3-6-10, a shot I haven't been very comfortable with this year. I did manage to pick up spares, but I continually felt uneasy about my first ball. I struck only once after making a small adjustment in the seventh frame. I finished with a 165 and a 548 series.

Lessons Learned

Last night was a case of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and since I came back from my two week hiatus things have been very up and down for me. To say my spare shooting has been a bit off is an understatement. I really need to find some time to get out and shoot nothing but corner pins and that blasted 3-6-10. The corner pins are typically a matter of concentration and not hitting my mark, but the 3-6-10 is a a matter of me totally blanking on how to approach the shot. Do I move slightly left and throw my strike ball or do I move further left and shoot it like it is a corner shot? For some reason every time this leave appears my mind goes blank.

Once again, my big problem last night was consistency. Starting in the second game, I continued to hit my mark at the arrows, but the ball was missing my target to the left or right further down the lane. Until the third game, the heavy oil was keeping the ball in the pocket when missing my target to the left.  Missing my target to the right, however, gave the ball no chance to strike. I wish I could say I found a solution for this problem, but I didn't. Not last night. The only thing I could do was start making my spares and live to bowl another day.

By the third game, I had just assumed that any issues were my own. This led me to forget about the fact that the lanes were changing and the ball was hooking a bit more. I was leaving more 7- and 4-pins from high hits and I didn't think to make an adjustment until the sixth frame. I moved up a few inches and found a better hit, but then I started leaving 10-pins and frankly just ran out of time.

I've seemed to have reached a plateau in my average. I have been hovering in the 192/193 range since the end of last year. In order to overcome this stagnation, I need to become a better spare shooter. I suppose it is good that I realize what aspect is holding me back, but being able to get better at that aspect is going to take practice and a whole lot of patience.

November 10, 2011

Week 12 Recap

Game 1: 198
Game 2: 209
Game 3: 205
Series: 612
Week Avg: 204
Season Avg: 192


By the time practice was over, I was still pretty uncomfortable with my strike shot and I didn't have a good line into the pocket.  I did manage to shoot one 10-pin, which I made, so I thought at least I would have a good spare night.  Wrong.

I started the first game with a double and then I missed the 2-4 spare.  I shot a strike and then missed the 10-pin my next two frames, and then followed that up with the same sequence.  I did strike in every even frame, 7 total strikes, and still managed to not hit a 200.  I didn't even know that was mathematically possible.  I finished with a 198.

The second game started with a double again, and then I missed the 4-pin.  In the fifth frame the ball hit light and I left the 1-2-5-7-10.  I made four out of the five pins on that leave, which I believe was a first for me.  I followed that up with a few nine count spares, my first of the night, and strung a few strikes together to finish with a 209.

The last game saw the left lane start to dry up a bit, so I adjusted up a few inches and kept my pocket hit similar to earlier in the night.  In the sixth frame I left the 9-10 split and dumped the ball into the gutter about 3/4 of the way down the lane.  I kept it together though and had a strong finish, a 205 game and 612 series.

Lesson Learned

First I want to apologize for the watered down post this week.  I am writing this a half hour after my last game without my usual 12 hours of reflection since I will be out of town tomorrow.

This week was about spares.  I missed my mark on my first six spare shots tonight, which is how a game with 7 strikes didn't break 200.  If I was shooting across the lane to the left I was missing my mark to the right and if I was shooting at the 10-pin I was missing to the left.  I think I was just so wrapped up in getting comfortable with my first ball that I wasn't concentrating enough on the spare.  Once I was comfortable with my strike ball, the spares seemed easier to make.

So the lesson is really to make sure you are focusing on the shot in front of you.  There is time between frames to contemplate what your next move should be.

November 4, 2011

Week 11 Recap

Game 1: 192
Game 2: 176
Game 3: 169
Series: 537
Week Avg: 179
Season Avg: 191


It was good to be back after not bowling in over two weeks. Practice started out alright, but I could tell after a few throws that there was a lot of oil along the right gutter, so missing my mark to the right was going to result in missing the pocket. I threw a few strikes and shot the 7- and 10-pins. At the end of practice, I was relatively comfortable with how the lanes were reacting.

My instincts must have been off, because my first frame resulted in a 2-7 split and I picked off the 2-pin. I brushed it off and started to throw a fairly decent ball, striking or leaving easy spares throughout the rest of the game. I was fishing for a good place to stand on the right lane because the ball just did not want to come into the pocket. I moved back a few inches, but the ball was still skidding in that oil on the outside and coming in light. I moved right a board, but then I was too high. The next time on the right lane I moved back up the few inches I adjusted earlier but stayed one board to the right and that seemed to be a good line. The left lane was coming in well, but by the end of the first game that started to hang outside too so I moved right a board on that lane as well. I stayed clean after the first frame, but couldn't manage to string any strikes together and finished with a 192.

I started the next game making a 2-4 spare and then struck in the second. I left a 5-7 split but picked that up, struck again, and then missed a 10-pin by dumping the ball in the gutter a couple of feet before the pin. I made a few more spares and mixed in another strike before missing a 7-pin in the tenth frame, finishing with a 176.

The third game started by making the 10-pin. I followed that up with a strike and another spare before missing a 4-pin. I started coming in light on the left lane resulting in a few 10-pins even though I moved back a bit, and the right lane was coming in a little too high even though I moved up and left a bit. I missed another 10-pin somewhere near the seventh frame and then left the 5-10 split in the tenth frame, making this the third Thursday night outing in a row where I ended the night with a split open. I finished with a 169 game and a 537 series. This was the first night all season I did not have at least one 200 game.

Lesson Learned

Fatigue + Ever-changing lane conditions = Disappointing night

You don't realized how conditioned you are for bowling until you take a few weeks off and that conditioning is gone. I had a few exhausting days at work and, combined with my first night of bowling in 17 days, I was very tired by the start of the third game. To make matters worse, the lanes didn't quite change like I expected them to and my decision making wasn't at its best. I didn't feel entirely comfortable and in the end I threw only a handful of really good strike balls.

The first game was alright and I knew there was a lot of oil down the lane and little room for error. As the second game progressed, the backend started to hook a little bit more and I was hitting the pocket more consistently, but the hits just weren't carrying. I expected that my ball would grab and flatten out when shooting the 10-pin in the second game, but it didn't and fell in the gutter. Though my ball did grab in the tenth frame when shooting the 7-pin, pulling it into the gutter just short of the pin. Then to add insult to injury the ball bounced out and knocked the pin over, so I had to go through the shame of taking the spare off the scoreboard. The third game started with promise and I had good pocket hits on the left lane, but all of a sudden the ball was hitting just a bit light leaving the 10-pin.  It took me a bit by surprise because judging how the lane had progressed so far that evening I expected to eventually come in high.  That happened on the right lane instead.

Looking back, the left lane had about a four to five frame lag in oil conditions when compared to the right lane. Whatever adjustment I made on the right lane, a half game later that's where I was on the left lane. I hope that next week I will be back to my old form and a little more aware of what is going on on the lanes. The most frustrating part was that is didn't feel like a bad night until that very last frame with the split.

Oh well, part of being a good bowler is the ability to brush off nights like this week and focus on the road ahead.