April 13, 2012

League Playoffs: Semi-Finals

Game 1: 194
Game 2: 216
Game 3: 170
Series: 580
Week Avg: 193
Season Avg: 191


Last night we bowled the winners of the first quarter head to head for a shot at the league finals. This particular team has the highest handicap in the league and we started each game giving up 130+ pins. I really only threw about five frames of practice and I was surprised to see that the outside was a little more forgiving than it had been in recent weeks. I found a good line to the pocket and was confident heading into the first game.

I started off with a few nine count spares. Even though I was in the pocket, I wasn't getting very good pin action. Instead of changing body position or speed, I decided to hold the ball a little further right of my body and let it rest flat on my hand with my thumb at 3 o'clock rather than holding it with my thumb at about 2 o'clock like I usually do. This allowed me to get some more revs on the ball and it worked perfectly. I started to throw strikes and occasional high pocket hits left the 7- or 4-pins. I stayed clean until the ninth frame when I missed my mark about a half board right and the ball hung out a little further before coming back for a light hit. I left the 1-2-4 as a result and tried to shoot left of the headpin, but in the process I also missed my mark left and the headpin remained. I struck and spared in the tenth frame, but the open did its damage and I finished with a 194. Everyone else on my team was under average and we lost the first game by 52 pins.

To start the second game I missed my mark to the left and left the 3-6-10. Because of how the ball hooked late in the ninth frame I moved a little further left to shoot the spare, but this time the ball grabbed early and I chopped the 3-pin. I picked up a few more spares, but was consistently missing my mark left about one board. I decided to just concentrate on following through on my throw and extending my arm out past my target. I threw a four-bagger and a spare leading up to the tenth frame.  I filled the tenth and finished with a 216. The rest of the team was under average again and we lost the game, relegating us to the consolation round to battle it out for 3rd place.

The third game was the most consistent I have ever been. Every shot was buried in the pocket and if I kept scored based on how each throw felt, I shot a 300. But how can this be, since this was my lowest score of the night and well under my average? The culprit would be the 8-10 splits I left on the left lane in the third, fifth and ninth frames. I thought the first one was a fluke because the 8-pin almost fell. After the second one, I realized that I needed to make some sort of adjustment on that lane so I decided to move back a few inches. My thought was that I could use the extra space to swing the ball into the pocket and not hit the 1-3 so flush which results in my ball deflecting right instead of driving through the rack. It worked to some extent in the seventh frame, but the ball hit too high and I left the 7-pin. In the ninth the pins blew back into the pit without even so much as a wiggle from the 8-10. I finished the game with 28 pins in the tenth, but could not salvage the game. I had a 170 game and a 580 series. Another team member shot 70+ over average and the team kept a little pride by winning the last game. I also finished in second in the brackets, falling six pins shy of winning.

 Lesson Learned

That felt great, despite the last game's score. If those three splits fall I'm looking at a high 200 game. I wish I had video of those three pocket hits to see how they differed from the strikes in the third game. I did a little more reading today and in addition to the ball being rolled out and deflecting, there are also two other possibilities for the leave. One is that the ball hits the rack so hard that it drives the 5-pin straight back without having the opportunity to kick out the 8-pin. The other is that the ball hits too high and causes the same reaction. Looking back, the latter was probably the cause this time and my adjustment of moving back caused the ball to come in even higher to leave the 7-pin. I think the next time the 8-10 rears its ugly head I will move up a few inches instead and try to catch a little less of the 5-pin, knocking it down so that it falls flat instead of pushing it straight back into the pit while still standing upright.

Last night, one team member was distraught over the other team's handicap before we even threw practice. He was so worked up that he couldn't concentrate on his own game and he had a pretty rough night. I tried to explain to him that we can't control how the other team bowls, to just focus on how he is bowling and let everything come together. I really never let pressure get to me when it comes to bowling head to head because I know that what the other bowlers do is out of my hands. All I can do is make my shots and leave it up to the other person to worry about the pressure I put on him.

A 589 series is my average +1 goal to get back to my average at the end of last season. If I can throw like I did last night, I see no reason why I can't exceed that total.


  1. The trick is to make the adjustment before the 8-10 shows up. Staying ahead of the transition is an educated guess, at best, but with experience and good observation skills, it can be done.

    I got my money on you making your AVG+1 next week, good luck!

    1. You are absolutely right, I do need to get better about staying ahead of the transition. Honestly, though, the difference was so small I couldn't see it at the time. To me it looked like I was hitting exactly the same on both lanes, only one was striking and the other was splitting. I will definitely keep last night in mind when I leave the 8-10 in the future, it has killed a few outings this season.