May 25, 2012

The Week That Wasn't

I was looking forward to trying some new things this week at league, but unfortunately I spent much of the week in the hospital with gallstones. I guess you know you are a bowler when you are sitting in a hospital bed Tuesday night trying to figure out how to convince your wife to let you go to bowling on Thursday, but I wasn't discharged until Thursday afternoon. As a result, I had to miss bowling and Matt was not able to find a sub so he was left with my 170 average for each game.

Matt bowled Josh's team and kept me informed on how the night was progressing. My average was enough to defeat Josh each game and although Matt only beat his opponent once he kept us close enough to win two team games. I'm not sure where we fell in the overall league team total points awarded in the first two weeks, but so far I think we have held our own. Matt in particular is doing really well.

So now I am even more looking forward to next Thursday and getting back out on the lanes.

Week 1/NCAA #3 Recap

Game 1: 155
Game 2: 170
Game 3: 200
Game 4: 157
Series: 682
Week Avg: 170
NCAA #3 Avg: 170
Season Avg: 170

 We get 15 minutes of practice in this league and I spent every bit of it trying to get my ball into the pocket. By the start of the first game I was standing with my left foot on the 22nd board and throwing over the 8 board at the arrows (see diagram). Even though this is a short pattern, the ball really didn't hook much until the last second.

I finally did find the pocket during the first game and was then able to adjust back a few inches on the approach to get the right pocket hit.  Unfortunately my spare shooting was not very good to start the evening and I had a few opens. I finished the game with a 155 and no points, but gained some good knowledge for the rest of the evening.

I was more consistent during the second game, but missing your mark by as much as a board meant either missing the headpin to the right or hitting the 1-2 pocket light on the left. I started to become more comfortable in shooting my spares and I realized that I could use my strike ball for corner pin pick ups. I finished the second game with a better 170. In addition, Matt and I each beat our opponents and we took points for winning the team game to even things out on the night so far.

Early in the third game I decided to lay the ball a little flatter in my hand at the beginning of my approach to get some more revs through the oil. The result was more strikes and single pin leaves. I was able to keep the third game clean and shot my first 200 in the league. I beat my opponent to pick up another point and we took the team game for an additional two, putting us in the lead going into the final game.

The fourth game was uncharted territory for me as I typically only bowl three. Factor in the extra practice time and the quick pace and I was exhausted. I started to miss my mark a bit more often and missed a few spares during the last game. I finished the game with a 157. Our opponents took advantage of their turn to change bowling order, and thus opponents, and defeated us this game and by total pinfall, leaving the final points on the night 10-7 them.  By the way, our opponents were a couple of 17 year olds.

The ball didn't react quite like I was expecting, but I adjusted to the conditions. The heavy front end oil displaced further down the lane, so the ball never broke early even on such a short pattern. Also, the pattern never really broke down, but each bowler was playing a different part of the lane so we were really only playing against ourselves in that aspect and little adjustment was needed once I found a line that worked.

One good thing is that I was immediately taken out of my comfort zone, playing further right than usual. Next week I want to try to move my mark out closer to the 5 board to see if I can get a little more movement from the ball in the back end.

NCAA #3 Oil Pattern

There is little information regarding the NCAA #3 oil pattern that I could find on the internet.  Really all that I could find was the lane conditioning PDF that bowling centers use to lay the pattern, so my observations will be based off of my week 1 experience.

NCAA #3 is a short pattern, 38' in length, but the oil that is there is extremely heavy in the front end. While you would expect the ball to move early once clearing the pattern, the oil actually lays on the ball and prevents hook until much further down the lane.

The goal here is to avoid as much of that early heavy oil as possible and getting your ball into the hook and roll at a reasonable area of the lane. Strokers and tweeners throw pretty close to the gutter on this pattern, but crankers can get away with playing further inside. As play goes on, the oil is carried further down the lane and the ball mimics the late breaking reaction caused by the heavy front end oil early on.

As I said, this description is based on my observations during one outing so if any readers have corrections or additions regarding this pattern please let me know in the comments.

May 18, 2012

The Real PBA Experience League Information

So the majority of what I thought I knew about the PBA Experience League has turned out to be incorrect. As I understand it, the league lost four teams from last year and so some changes needed to be made. Consider this a correction to and extension of my post of May 3rd.

The league is 14 weeks in duration comprised of 10 weeks of round robin play and 4 weeks of position rounds. It is a scratch doubles league consisting of six teams with four games per week against the same team on the same set of lanes. During the four games each team has two opportunities to select the head-to-head match-up of their choice. This is important because one point is awarded to the winner of each head-to-head match-up in addition to two points per team win and two points for winning team total pinfall. Each team is also awarded 1-6 points based on how their team's total pinfall ranks amongst the entire league that week.

Matt is still my doubles partner, but Bruce from the fall league was nowhere to be found. Josh, who was to be Bruce's partner, was matched up with someone else who is pretty dang good.

We will be bowling on five different oil patterns; however, not all of these are PBA patterns as predicted. The league manager said that you can go anywhere to bowl on the animal patterns and so he likes to throw in a few different looks. The pattern schedule is as follows:

Weeks 1-3: NCAA #3
Weeks 4-6: Cheetah
Weeks 7-9: Scorpion
Weeks 10-12: NCAA #4
Weeks 13-14: Viper

I still plan to post a description of each oil pattern and my plan of attack, though my predictions for the NCAA patterns, much like my initial league post, may be completely off the mark. I have already written descriptions for the two animal patterns we won't be seeing (Shark and Chameleon), so consider those bonus posts.

I think I covered all of my errors, but if you have any questions about the league just leave me a comment. It should be a good time, nonetheless.

May 15, 2012

Viper Oil Pattern

Pattern Description

I have it on good authority that the first oil pattern we will be facing in the PBA Experience League is Viper. The Viper pattern is 37' in length, which is a few feet shorter than your typical house pattern. This will result in an early break point once the ball clears the moderate front end oil. At the beginning of the night it will be important to throw straight through the oil, playing on the outside near the gutter to avoid coming in high. However, once the pattern breaks down multiple angles should become available. Then it is just the matter of identifying the line that works best for your style . . . over and over again as each angle breaks down and you start to come in high. If you can find your lines and stay one step ahead, scores on this pattern are typically medium to high.

My Plan of Attack

Coming into the league, this is the pattern I am most excited about and most fear. Early on I think I should be alright playing a shot similar to the house pattern from the first half of fall league. Once that line starts to break down I will be tested on how well I can read the changing lanes and adjust accordingly. I shouldn't get settled in any one place for too long, but small adjustments like ball speed and moving up/back on the approach should allow me to linger a little longer at one spot before shifting to a completely new line. It will be important to not only pay attention to my shots, but also those of the other bowlers so that I can survey potential new lines without wasting any of my frames on testing. I shouldn't be afraid to move my body and target left, sometimes several boards at a time, so that my straight shot from the beginning of the night changes to a large arching shot by the end. Not adjusting soon enough has the potential to result in some nasty splits and missing my mark to the right a board or two should be OK; however, I typically miss my mark to left which could have disastrous results on such short and dry oil conditions.

May 13, 2012

Happy Bowling Mother's Day

I wanted to wish a happy Mother's Day to two bowlers who have impacted my life.

First, to my mother. She bowled while pregnant with me, so I guess you could say I was destined to be a bowler myself. She drove me to junior leagues for over five years and attended all of my tournaments. Also, she accomplished one of the more remarkable feats I have witnessed in bowling. After having carpel tunnel surgery on her bowling hand, she taught herself to bowl using her other hand. I can't begin to fathom how difficult it must be to basically learn how to bowl all over again without even having the advantage of using your dominant hand. She is a real inspiration on overcoming adversity on the lanes.

Secondly, to my wife, who is celebrating her first Mother's Day. She also managed to bowl the majority of a 34 week season while pregnant with our daughter and improved her average in the process. We have bowled in a few leagues together and, as we later found out, were in different junior leagues at the same alley on Saturday mornings. It was meant to be. She should probably receive even more recognition for not giving me hell for bowling this past season while there was a baby at home.

So happy Mother's Day to all those bowling mothers out there!

May 11, 2012

Free Bowling For Everyone!

So I received a call on Wednesday afternoon that the start of my league had been pushed back one week because many people were busy finishing up their fall leagues and couldn't make it. The plus side was that we could show up and practice for free. Not being one to pass up free bowling, I decided to go down Thursday evening to loosen up a bit and practice using my plastic ball for spare shooting before next week. In the hour I was there only one other person from the league came to practice. He had at least four balls with him and I quickly realized that this league is not going to be for the faint of heart.

I started the first game by leaving the 10-pin and then the 6-pin, but spared on both shots.  I struck in the third frame and then did something I haven't done on my first ball in a long time: I dumped it in the gutter. I wasn't really concentrating on my shot, I was actually thinking about what adjustment I should be making, and missed my mark far right. I picked up nine on my second ball, so didn't completely cover my mistake. To make matters worse, or better depending on how you look at it, I struck out the rest of the game. So the last 8-in-a-row could have been the last 10-in-a-row.  I finished with a 247 game and a new personal high for consecutive strikes in a game.

The next game started with another strike, but the streak would end there at nine which is still my new best. I started to miss my mark and then began to run high. I missed the 3-10 split from a high hit and then the ball began to break later and started to come in light. As a result of that I left and failed to convert the 2-4-5-8. I was making adjustments but it didn't help that I was going at a sprinter's pace because I wanted to finish up and quick get Mother's Day cards before going home. I finished the game with a 168.

The third game was unremarkable. I was in the pocket more consistently than in the second game, but left a few 7-pins or 4-7 combos. Luckily I did well with the plastic and didn't miss a corner pin all night. I did start to strike late in the game, but by then it was too late. I finished with a 188 and barely eked out a 603 after that great first game.

I think much of my problem last night stemmed from the pace more than anything. During league play, my sole focus should be on hitting my marks, which is my main area of concern. I did accomplish my goals though, having successfully used my plastic ball in preparation of varying oil conditions and in getting loose and in bowling shape for next week after taking two weeks off. In addition, with the awesome 247 in the back of my head going into league, I consider the outing an overall success.

May 3, 2012

I've Joined the PBA . . .

Experience League!

Ok, that probably fooled no one.

This summer, for 15 weeks, I will subject myself to the humbling and mentally exhausting oil patterns of the PBA. I know for sure that this will include the five animal oil patterns: Shark, Scorpion, Chameleon, Viper and Cheetah. I also have a hunch that it will include the US Open pattern and maybe the World Championship pattern. I should have a complete list after the first night, May 10th.

This is a doubles league and one of my teammates for my mixed league, Matt, was nice enough to join me this summer. He has greatly improved as a bowler over the last year, averaging about 152 while throwing a straight ball down the left side of the lane to the 1-2 pocket. In addition, at least two other bowlers from my mixed league will be joining is, including the 210+ averaging Bruce who I have referenced before in previous posts. If you do well, there is the potential for significant payout at the end of the season. The league is also open to juniors though, so if you do poorly be prepared to be humiliated by high schoolers.

My goal for this league is to maintain my projected adjusted average which I calculated by using the chart on in reverse. Since I finished my fall league with a 191 average on a standard oil pattern, I am looking to throw a 174 average on PBA conditions. I plan to use my plastic ball for most, if not all, of my spares, as the complicated oil conditions can wreak havoc on your accuracy when shooting on various areas of the lane. I am also looking to improve on my accuracy at hitting my marks, throwing at consistent speeds and deliveries, and reading the lanes to adjust before there are problems.

I believe we throw two weeks on each pattern, so my second series should be better than my first on each condition. Going into the league, I know that I am there to learn and not throw high scores (though if I do that's great!). I don't plan to get frustrated when things go wrong, but I am competitive so I am sure it will shine through on occasion.

I will post a description of each oil pattern along with my plan of attack and concerns. These posts will also hopefully have an illustration of the layout so we can see how the oil is applied to the lanes. In my weekly recap, I will track my average on each oil pattern in addition to my overall league average in an attempt to get an accurate depiction of how I am bowling on professional conditions. The pattern average should show me what my strengths and weaknesses are as a bowler depending on the qualities of each pattern.

So I got my wish, to join a PBA Experience League. Let's hope the lessons learned this summer will lead to better bowling come the fall.