January 30, 2012

Week 22 Recap

Game 1: 183
Game 2: 215
Game 3: 167
Series: 565
Week Avg: 188
Season Avg: 192


There was still a lot of oil on the lanes when we started the evening. Talking with the league President, I found out that a few bowlers complained to the house about the extremely dry conditions a few weeks ago, thus the heavy oil ever since.

For the first game I went right to slowing my ball speed and it worked pretty well. The only down side to this type of adjustment is that I need to make a conscious effort on every shot not to bowl the way I usually do. I stayed clean through the first nine frames, but couldn't manage to string any strikes together. Then in the tenth frame I blew an easy 2-pin, costing myself an average game and our team the win. I ended up with a 183.

The second game was much better as I had a turkey in addition to a few other strikes. My only open was another solid 8-10 split. As the oil pushed down the lane the ball was waiting a little later to hook into the pocket, even when I tried to find a dry spot further right of my usual break point. I struck and picked up a spare in the tenth to finish with a 215.

The last game got away from me. The lanes started to change and my head just wasn't in the game. The oil pushed even further down the lane and the ball just wasn't finding the pocket like it did before. On top of that, I wasn't picking up my spares like I was earlier. I was consistently hitting light, evident by the 2-8 split I left in the tenth frame. I finished with a 167 game and 565 series

Lesson Learned
On the drive home on Thursday I told myself I would get to the bottom of my new nemesis, the 8-10 split. I did some research today and the consensus seems to be that the 8-10 is the result of a straight or shallow entry into the pocket.  The 5-pin pushes straight back missing the 8-pin and the 6-pin wraps around the 10-pin. Given my preferred line to the pocket, I am the ideal candidate to leave the 8-10. Throw in heavy oil with little to no hook and its a perfect storm.

Thursday was another reminder of how important the tenth frame can be. I had 37 of a possible 90 pins in the tenth frame this week. Filling the tenth frame was the difference between me hitting or not hitting my average for the night, and that bothered me more than the splits I left. It is just not how you finish, especially when bowling anchor. I'm glad my teammates were supportive, saying that they couldn't ever remember me not securing a game that was easily within our reach.

The third game and the lane changes that come with it have once again proved to be a big hurdle. Though it didn't help that I forgot to keep my ball speed slow for the majority of the last game. League night is a marathon and in tough lane conditions it can be just as exhausting, both physically and mentally.

January 24, 2012

Week 21 Recap

Game 1: 205
Game 2: 201
Game 3: 184
Series: 590
Week Avg: 196
Season Avg: 192

First, I want to apologize for my late postings the last few weeks. I have been pretty busy at work since the New Year, and I typically try to get these done first thing Friday morning.


Once again the lanes were very oily, so the ball was breaking late and hard. I threw some decent balls in practice and felt comfortable with my shot going into the first game. Rather than force the shot I wanted to throw by slowing my ball speed and potentially messing up my routine, I decided to move a little further right than usual and throw more of a direct line into the pocket.

The first game went pretty well. I was striking and picking up my spares with relative ease, which is a long way from where I was a few months ago. The first ball in the tenth frame I left the 6-pin, a routine shot, but I missed my mark to the left and missed the spare. That was more frustrating than anything else I encountered all night. The open in the tenth wrecked the potential 220 game, but a 205 was not a bad way to start the evening.

There were six people throwing similar lines and I hoped that the oil would break down a bit by the second game. Instead, the oil pushed further down the lane into the backend causing the ball to break later. It took a few frames to dial in, but I managed to find a good shot again. I left the 4-5-7-8 split off a very light hit, which I missed, and picked up a few baby splits en route to finding a solid pocket shot. Once I was there I managed to strike a bit and filled the tenth frame to finish with a 201.

As a testament to exactly how much oil was on the lanes, it pushed even further into the backend by the third game. The ball was breaking very late and it was nearly impossible for me to move any further right. Instead, I decided to slow my ball speed. I missed a 10-pin during this game, but made the rest of my spares. I had a couple scattered strikes, but not enough to hit average. I finished with a 184 game and 590 series. It was my first over-average night in a while.

Lesson Learned

There are still a few really good bowlers struggling and I am not sure why. We bowled against a guy with a 196 average who opened and then threw seven in a row before opening in the ninth and tenth frames, taking his great game down to the 220s and throwing a 600 on the nose for the night. Although I have been under-average lately, it seems that I am adapting better than most. My 200 last week was the second best game of the night.

Once again, I need to move slowing ball speed to a higher position in my adjustment checklist. I don't use it often, but lately when I do it works for me. I had tried using this a few years back, but my release was adversely affected as a result of slowing my feet and shortening my backswing. Now I hesitate to use this adjustment because I am not confident in my ability to slow everything and still throw my way; however, recent experience has shown I am ready.

Sometimes we try an adjustment out for the first time and it doesn't work, so we decide not to use it from there on out. But like everything else, practice makes perfect. If you don't master an adjustment right away, don't write it off forever. You can practice until you become good at it or, in my case, you can wait until your skill level has improved and try it again. I may not have had the ability to slow my ball speed a few years ago without totally ruining my approach, but now I believe I have the skill to successfully utilize that adjustment and am going to make a conscious effort to do so in the future.

January 16, 2012

Week 20 Recap

Game 1: 181
Game 2: 175
Game 3: 200
Series: 556
Week Avg: 185
Season Avg: 192


I was looking to bounce back from my abysmal performance last week with at least an average performance on Thursday. I threw five balls in practice, but hit light every time. There was a lot of oil on the lanes this week, the complete opposite problem from the week before.

The first game started with several more light pocket hits. I picked up a few of my spares, but missed a 2-pin and the 1-2-4-10 washout. I found the pocket, but began to leave 7-pins. I missed my mark a few times, and surprisingly struck every time I hit on the Brooklyn side. I realized I was dropping my right shoulder at the foul line, causing me to miss my mark to the left. I spent a few frames trying to correct that issue and picked up my spares. I struck in the tenth frame before leaving a solid 4-9 split on what looked to be a good pocket hit. I finished with a 181.

The second game started with a spare followed by another solid 4-9 split. I tried moving back and left during the first game, so early in the second I decided to slow my ball speed a little bit. I immediately found the pocket with more consistency and the strikes started to come. One high hit left the 3-9-10 split which I chopped, but other than that I kept it clean the rest of the way. Unfortunately, there weren't enough strikes to save this game and I finished with a 175.

The third game went pretty well. I was in the pocket every frame, but started to come in a little high resulting in a few 7-pins. I changed my ball speed back to normal and began to strike a bit more. I kept this game clean and finished with a 200 on the nose and a 556 for the night.

Lesson Learned

I was pretty down about last week, so this week, although under average, was a step in the right direction by comparison. Great bowlers are allowed to have bad days, which is something I need to remind myself of from time to time. This week I saw the best bowler in the league, with a 211 average, throw a 510 series. I could tell he was upset, but he didn't get overly excited about it. Being able to keep your composure during bad days is a great quality to have, because it can allow you to turn a bad day into a learning experience. Another very good bowler in the league also struggled. He throws a big hook, typically playing close to the gutter, but this week the ball slid into the gutter several times because it couldn't get through the oil to grab the lanes. He chose to just blow off this week rather than learn from it, and I imagine someone like him will never improve past their natural bowling ability.

Once again I come back to versatility as being a key quality of a great bowler. Last week the lanes were very dry, and so the ball was hooking a lot in the backend. This week, the lanes were extremely oily, causing the ball to skid further down the lane before finally grabbing in the backend to hook. I purposely purchased a ball meant for medium oil lanes because a) I'm a bowler on a budget and wanted the best bang for my buck, and b) I wanted the ability to throw the same ball on almost any conditions. Typically this house has medium oiled lanes, so I'm not sure why the conditions have been so drastic the past few weeks. But I hope with my versatility and knowledge I will be ready for whatever comes my way in Week 21.

January 9, 2012

Week 19 Recap

Game 1: 177
Game 2: 148
Game 3: 165
Series: 490
Week Avg:163
Season Avg: 192
I don't have the usual breakdown of this week because I cannot begin to remember everything that happened during these games, and maybe I made the subconscious decision to forget.
I started my night with a turkey and that was pretty much the highlight of the evening. I missed four 7-pins on the night, but made all of my other single pin spares, including a few 10-pins. During the second game, AKA The Magical Splits-tory Tour, I left the 4-6-7-10 and 2-8-10.  The latter split caused someone on the lane next to me to ask "How do you you even make that? I mean, how would a bowler try to make that?"  My answer was to just accept the fact that you will only get two pins . . . and then I chopped it and only got one.

This was the first night in a long time where I was just lost on the lanes. I was in the pocket, but I couldn't dial it in enough to strike like I wanted to. After the first three balls I started running high and spent the rest of the night trying to reign it in. I moved my body up, I moved my body left, I moved my mark up, I moved my mark left, I changed my line to a more arching line, but all were temporary solutions. On a handful of good pocket hits, the messenger coming to take out the 7-pin was blocked by another pin bouncing off the left wall. I wasn't throwing a bad ball, it was just a very frustrating night compounded by bad spare shooting.

On the drive home I thought that maybe I should have tried upping my ball speed, but because I rarely use this adjustment it didn't occur to me during the game. Another solution may have been to flatten my hand so that I was more behind the ball at my release. It would have taken revs off the ball, but it would not have hooked so sharply in the backend.

This would have been an ideal night to have used my old Columbia 300 Boss Titanium. Its a little rolled out, but I think it would have cut just enough reaction to make a solid pocket hit. If you've been following at home, I pulled this ball from my bag a month ago to make room for my plastic so I could shoot 10-pins. I so rarely encounter conditions like this, so it seemed like a good trade off and I stand by my decision; however, Thursday night was an excellent lesson in why the correct equipment for the lane conditions makes a big impact on your game.
One positive of being over 90 pins under average for the night was that my big night the week before meant that my average only dropped by a pin. So I am back where I started this quarter at a 192 average and the last two weeks are but a memory as I look forward to this week.

January 2, 2012

Week 18 Recap

Game 1: 204
Game 2: 216
Game 3: 213
Series: 633
Week Avg: 211
Season Avg: 193


Perhaps it was good fortune that  I had to pre-bowl on Monday night with slightly drier lane conditions because that was exactly what I encountered on Thursday night. Luckily this time fatigue was not a factor. Also, even though five of us threw pretty similar lines, there was not enough oil on the lanes at the beginning of the night to make a significant impact in lane conditions as the night wore on.

The first game started out with a few strikes and spares followed by a few light hits. I missed a 10-pin, the 1-2-10 and another 10-pin consecutively before backing up a few inches to hit higher in the pocket on the right lane. The lane conditions forced me to play a bigger arch than usual, but I was able to still keep control over what the ball was doing on the lane. I got back on track and struck the last five in a row to salvage a 204 game.

At the end of the first game I noticed that I was coming in a little high on the right lane so I moved back up to my original position on the approach. I strung a few strikes together in the second game, with the big difference being that I did not miss any of my spares, including a few 10-pins. I finished with 29 of 30 possible pins in the tenth frame to finish with a 216.

The third game was pretty similar to the second, only I missed one of my 10-pin leaves. The issue during this game was adjusting to the lanes. I moved back up to my original position on the approach on the left lane and moved my body and mark a board left on the right lane as I began to come in a bit high. Once again I got 29 of 30 possible pins in the tenth frame to finish with a 213 and the second win of the night for our team. I had a 633 series for the night.

Lesson Learned

The biggest lesson here was to not fall into the trap of feeling comfortable. I started to feel comfortable in my spare shooting and as a result missed three 10-pins. It is important to concentrate on every shot, no matter how comfortable you might feel. Once I really began to focus on the single pin shots, I picked them up.

On the flip side, I was playing a bit outside of my comfort zone Thursday night. I usually shoot a more direct line with a sharper hook into the pocket (black line). On Thursday the ball traveled farther right before hitting the back end and coming almost half way across the lane to enter the pocket (red line). Versatility is very important to me and I purposely have a ball meant for medium oil so I can adjust for just about any lane condition. This allowed me to avoid the washouts several of the other bowlers suffered, especially during the third game.

One other aspect on Thursday that made it successful was that I didn't second guess any of my adjustments. I read the lane and adjusted accordingly. I was able to do this mainly because I was throwing consistently, with only one ball getting away from me, missing my mark to the right to leave the 1-2-10.

This was a great start to the second half of the season and I am looking forward to continuing this upward trend.