July 30, 2012

Week 11/Shark Recap

Game 1: 198
Game 2: 170
Game 3: 149
Game 4: 198
Series: 715
Week Avg: 178
Shark Avg: 167
Season Avg: 177

My plan coming into the week was to try to play a line a little further right of center than I did in week 10. During practice I found a pretty good line standing with my left foot at the 24 board and throwing at the 12 board at the arrows. This allowed me a little more room for error, but missing half a board to the right still resulted in completely missing the headpin. For some extra motivation this week I bowled against the high school All-American.

The first game was pretty successful all things considered. I was in the pocket just about every frame, but left a lot of corner pins. Luckily I was on my spare game to start the night and stayed clean for the first fifteen frames of the night. I started running a little high so at the sixth frame I moved left a half board on the approach and threw three strikes in the second half of the game. In the tenth frame a high hit left the 3-9-10 split, but luckily I was able to convert to finish with a 198.

I threw a strike and a few more spares to start the second game before chopping the 6-10 in the sixth frame. I shook it off and marked my way to the tenth frame, where I opened by missing a 5-pin. I came in high the last few frames, but still made a slight adjustment for the spare and just barely missed. I finished with a 170.

The third game was another painful one. I missed a 1-2-4-10 in the second frame and opened on a 6-7 split in the fourth. I followed that up with a chopped 1-2-4 in the fifth frame, but I tried to not let it get me down. I kept telling myself this is a learning experience, figure out what is wrong and fix it. And I did. I threw great first balls the rest of the night. Unfortunately, in the eighth and tenth frames, those solid pocket hits left the 8-10 split. I adjusted in the tenth after leaving the split in the eighth by moving up a few inches, and I did hit better, but the messenger just barely missed the 8-pin before it fell into the pit. I was lucky to finish the game with a 149.

The fourth game was a lot like the first. I threw some great balls, but many were only nine counts. Along the way I did convert a 2-8-9 split, kicking the 2-pin off the left sideboard to take out the 9-pin. The only bad ball this game came in the ninth frame when I hit a little light and left the 4-6 split. I struck out in the tenth frame to score another 198.

After the last month and a half, this week was incredible. It felt great to throw two games in the 190s and my new line worked perfectly. The hardest part is being able to throw the exact same shot all night long, because  missing my mark by as little as a half inch or speeding up a little bit will result in missing the pocket. I also split the head-to-head with the cocky All-American and was competitive in every game. For the most part I had fun, though, and that was exactly what I needed.

We have one more week for me to throw a 200 game on the Shark pattern and I have thrown at least two 200s on each pattern so far. I'm also on a ten game drought without throwing over 200, so I have some more motivation for this Thursday. But I think things are starting to look up . . .

July 27, 2012

Bowling in the Olympics

As the world enters into another Summer Olympics, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at bowling’s brief appearance in the Games. Now this isn’t going to be a position piece on why bowling should be an Olympic sport, though I’m sure we will see those articles pop up throughout the rest of the year, as they do every Olympic year. This is meant to be a retrospective look back at the sport’s brief moment (and I do mean brief) in the Olympic spotlight.

Bowling’s relationship with the Olympics dates back to 1936, when an international tournament was held in Berlin prior to the start of those infamous Games. American Joe Norris earned the silver medal at the event, which must have caught the eye of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because bowling was scheduled to be an exhibition sport at the 1940 Games in Tokyo; however, the 1940 Olympics were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II.

The sport of bowling never lost sight of the goal to reach Olympic sport status and in 1952 the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ) was founded by several European countries to develop an international bowling community and keep those dreams alive.  The FIQ serves as the IOC-recognized federation for the sport of bowling, one of thirty-three sports recognized by the IOC but not currently participating in the Games.

Official bowling poster of the 1988 Summer Games.

Bowling’s only official involvement in the Olympics took place during the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, as an exhibition sport. The event took place on September 18th at the Royal Bowling Center in Seoul. Twelve men and twelve women representing twenty countries took part in the tournament, which consisted of an eleven game round robin followed by a three bowler stepladder medal round. The entire exhibition had nine hours to complete the tournament, from opening ceremonies to the medal presentations. As per Olympic tradition at the time, only amateurs were permitted to enter the tournament, though Carol Gianotti of Australia, a former LPBA champion, did compete, but failed to medal.

In the Men’s event, the United States was represented by Mark Lewis, a McDonald’s manager from Wichita. During round robin play Lewis averaged 198.82, which was good enough for sixth place.  The complete round robin results were as follows:

1. Jack Loke Chin, Japan 2435
2. Kwon Jong Yul, South Korea 2333
3. Tapani Peltola, Finland 2274
4. Philippe Dubois, France 2261
5. Kanesumi Mori, Japan 2248
6. Mark Lewis, United States 2237
7. Luis Valezx, Puerto Rico 2209
8. T.C. cheng, Chinese Taipei 2165
9. Walter Costsa, Brazil 2154
10. Wolfgang Strupf, West Germany 2101
11. Christer Danielsson, Sweden 2084
12. Marcos Brosens, Argentina 2032

In the first stepladder match, South Korea’s Yul barely defeated Finalnd’s Peltola in a 177-164 finish. Yul then went on to defeat the top seeded Chin of Singapore 236-194, forcing a third game under the tournament’s double elimination format. In the championship match Yul threw eight strikes to best Chin 254-223 and win the gold for the host country.  NBC Sports aired portions of the final on television and the enthusiastic home crowd cheering for Yul made for an exciting TV presence.

Team USA members Mark Lewis and Debbie McMullen at the Royal Bowling Center in Seoul.
AP Images.
On the women’s side, the United States was represented by Debbie McMullen, who worked at a bowling alley in Denver. McMullen averaged 189.72 during the round robin and placed seventh overall.  The complete round robin results for the women were as follows:

1. Arianne Cerdena, Philippines 2354
2. Annikki Maattola, Finland 2315
3. Atsuko Asai, Japan 2281
4. Jane Amlinger, Canada 2271
5. Mette Hermansen, Norway 2258
6. Gabriela Bigai, Venezuela 2158
7. Debbie McMullen, United States 2137
8. Kimberley Coote, England 2125
9. Annemiek (Dagelet) van den Boogaart, Netherlands 2116
10. Edda Piccini, Mexico 2105
11. Carol Gianotti, Australia 2103
12. Kyung-Mi Song, South Korea 1871

During the stepladder match, third seed Asai of Japan defeated Finland’s Maattola 209-187. In the next match, Asai defeated top seed Cerdena of the Philippines 198-180; however, due to the double elimination format the two were forced into a rematch with the winner taking the gold. Taking advice from her coach, Cerdena changed her line for the third game and defeated Asai 249-211, making Cerdena the only Filipino to ever win a gold medal at an Olympic event.

With the excitement of placing gold medals around the necks of a hometown hero and a first time winner, bowling provided a great storyline during the Olympics and the sport was optimistic about its future on the global stage.  However, as we all know, the sport has not made a return to the Games since. And don’t worry about the two American bowlers. Although they didn’t fare too well during the Olympics, both went on to successful bowling careers and are members of various halls of fame for their achievements, not to mention that they earned the privilege to represent their country during a unique part of bowling history.

July 24, 2012

Week 10/Shark Recap

Game 1: 192
Game 2: 159
Game 3: 149
Game 4: 125
Series: 625
Week Avg: 156
Shark Avg: 156
Season Avg: 176

Take a 15lb ball 8.5" in diameter and try to roll it on a 1" wide board for a length of about 45'. Sounds pretty tough, right? Then try to do that anywhere from forty to forty-eight times in a row, all in the span of about one hour. It is pretty close to impossible, but that is the challenge I issued myself on Thursday night and I failed spectacularly.

The pattern performed exactly as advertised. Anything outside the 10 board had no chance of coming back to the pocket and missing a mark by as much as a board could result in disaster. It took some time in practice to find a line and get used to playing so far inside, but by the time practice was over I was standing at the 27 1/2 board and throwing at the 15 board, right over the third arrow from the right (see diagram).

I did pretty well for the first game, hitting the pocket every frame and, with the exception of a 7-pin in the sixth, making all of my spares. I finished that game with a 192 and a bit of confidence that maybe this pattern wouldn't be so bad. Then it began . . .

The second game brought some difficulty in hitting the pocket well. I wasn't striking as much and then I started missing my mark on top of that. I opened on the 1-2-4-5 in the sixth frame, the 2-4-5 from a light hit in the ninth frame, and the 5-7 split in the tenth frame. I finished the second game with a 159.

For the third game I tried making small adjustments, but could not find a better line to the pocket than what I started with. I started the game by chopping the 6-9 in the first and the 2-4-5 in the third. I completely missed another 7-pin in the fourth frame by missing my spare mark to the right. I managed to clean up my game slightly, making easy spares and even throwing a strike or two, but opened in the tenth again by missing the 1-8. I finished with a 149.

The last game was full of frustration, which devolved into more bad bowling. I opened on the 2-4-5-7 in the first, 3-10 split in the fourth, 3-9-10 split in the sixth, 2-4-5-8 in the seventh, 4-6 split in the eighth, and 1-5-9 in the tenth. It was awful. I was rushing my shots. I was at a loss for how to adjust, so I just did nothing. What could I do? If I moved right the ball would find the oil and not come back to the headpin. If I moved left the ball would travel through the dry area and into the oil. So I did nothing and got no results. It was as disappointing as a 125 could be.

I think my biggest error was trying to throw such a narrow line all night. The lane was playing tight and it worked for me for the first game, but after that I should have moved my body and target left. I'm not sure if the ball would have straightened enough to give me a strike, but it would have been worth a shot. Another potential move would be to stand at about the 25 board and throwing around the 12 board,which is the first board to the right that has the longest lighter oil. This would give me a little more angle into the pocket and a little more room for error. If I miss right the ball is still heading toward the headpin rather than the 3-pin and if I miss left the drier oil should bring the ball Brooklyn.

Once again I think that my equipment is not quite right for the pattern. A duller or more reactive ball would allow for some more options. I think I might try dulling my old Boss Titanium to see what type of reaction I get, but I will also be sure to clean the Python before next week.

It's gotta get better, it sure can't get any worse . . . can it?

July 17, 2012

Shark Oil Pattern

Pattern Description

At 43' in length, the Shark oil pattern is the longest of the PBA animal patterns. It is almost laid out as an inside-out house shot with lighter oil in the middle of the lane and heavier oil toward the gutters. This means that missing to the outside is not an option, as missing too far toward the gutter puts your ball into a point of no return area that leaves no chance of hitting the pocket. The layout of the oil forces bowlers to play deep inside, with the ball hooking sharply into the pocket further down the lane. Playing such a shallow angle often results in leaving the corner pins, which makes scoring on the Shark pattern medium at best.

I watched Chris Barnes throw a 300 on the Shark during the PBA tour this past season and then turn around and lose the final once the lanes began to change. His direct style of bowling was perfect on the fresher conditions, but once the pattern broke down and different lines became available, Jason Belmonte and his high rev rate were able to tear through the remaining oil and best Barnes. The takeaway: I should expect a gradual transition with more lines becoming available for those throwing high revs and more reactive balls.

Plan of Action

I think this is going to be one of the more challenging patterns for a few reasons. One is that I almost never play so far inside, so it will take some time getting used to playing in an area on the lane I rarely visit to throw strikes. Also, I tend to have difficulty consistently taking out the corners on a regular house patterns, so it will be hard for me to carry all ten pins on such a shallow angle. Once I find a line to the pocket, I hope that I will be able to make small adjustments to kick out the 7- and 10-pins. Until then spare shooting will need to be a high priority.

When I start practice this week I am going to line up with my left foot at about the 30 board and shoot at about 15 to see what type of reaction I get. I have found that over the last year I have slowed my ball speed slightly, which is going to work to my advantage on this pattern since the ball should begin to hook a little earlier. With the heavy outside oil, I can likely expect my opponents to play pretty close to my line, so I will need to be aware of the transitions and not be afraid to move my body and target left as the night progresses.

July 15, 2012

Week 9/ Scorpion Recap

Game 1: 149
Game 2: 204
Game 3: 164
Game 4: 172
Series: 689
Week Avg: 172
Scorpion Avg: 170
Season Avg: 179

I came into this week with a few goals. The first was to make sure that I am balanced at the point of release and follow through on my shots. I realized that missing my mark lately has been a symptom of not finishing my shots, which is a much bigger problem.  Another goal was to not let the uptempo pace of doubles bowling rush me once I am on the approach. I think that I was so worried about keeping up with everyone else that I wasn't concentrating enough on my decisions concerning adjustments and I was rushing to the foul line rather than bowling at my pace. Practice went amazingly well, to the point where I stopped throwing strike balls five minutes in. I had a great line set up standing at the 20 1/2 board and throwing at the 8 board (line on diagram) and was pretty confident heading into the first game.

Then the first game actually happened. While I was throwing strikes on the left lane, I left the 5-pin in the first and the 10-pin in the third and fifth frames . . . and missed them all. A high hit in the sixth frame left the 4-7-10 split and I missed yet another 10-pin in the eighth frame. It was brutal. I struck in the tenth frame, but then missed the 3-6 to finish with a 149.

To start the second game I moved back on the approach about three inches to compensate for some light hits late in the first game. I threw three strikes to start the game and then missed another 10-pin in the fourth frame.  I barely missed the 10-pin to the right each time, and moved right a bit each shot to try to correct the issue. It wasn't until after this frame that I decided to move my mark left for shots in the right corner and it worked well the rest of the night. I struck every frame on the left lane this game and covered all of my spares except for the eighth frame, where I missed the 1-2-10. I finished with a 204, which felt like my first 200 in forever.

The third game got off to another awful start, missing the 4-10 split in the first, 6-7 split in the second ans the 1-2-4-5 in the third frames. I shook off the first few frames and managed to throw decently the rest of the game, striking occasionally. In the tenth frame I left a 4-6 split giving me a 164 game.

The last game was punishment for all of the misses this week. After the first game I thought to myself that I needed to practice my spares and that I needed to throw a clean game. I just didn't expect both of these to happen at the same time. I didn't throw a single good first ball during this game; however, I managed to convert every spare, all of which consisted of anywhere from two to four pins. This was my first ever all spare game, but I really couldn't enjoy it at this point in the evening. I finished the game with a 172.

In retrospect, I should have moved my line to standing at the 21 board and throwing at the 9, but it took until the ride home to realize that. Overall I felt like I was throwing really well, but by concentrating so much on my mechanics I didn't do a very good job at reading the lanes. Hopefully I have corrected my issues with my release and finish so that I can correct this downward spiral I've been riding lately.

The bowling center purchased a new oil machine this week and they realized that they didn't have the conversion sheet for our next pattern, NCAA #4. We took a quick poll and decided that we would play the Shark pattern for the next three weeks instead. The Shark isn't the best pattern for a slumping bowler, but we'll see if I can swing a decent series or two.

July 8, 2012

Week 8/Scorpion Recap

Game 1: 168
Game 2: 180
Game 3: 142
Game 4: 152
Series: 642
Week Avg: 160
Scorpion Avg: 169
Season Avg: 180

This week just wasn't fun at all. My teammate was on vacation so it was just me against the two 18 year olds from Week 1. It was close to 100 degrees outside. I was going to have a minor procedure the next day. Practice didn't go so well and it took me all 15 minutes to find the pocket. I decided to start the first game standing at the 20 1/2 board and throwing at the 8 board (black line in diagram).

I started the first game with a few decent hits and single pin spares. In the fourth frame I chopped the 2-4-8 and then followed that up by missing the 2-pin. I struck once or twice, but then left my old friend the solid 8-10 split in the tenth frame to finish with a 168.

To start the second game I moved to the 21 board and kept throwing at the 8 board (red dotted line on diagram). It worked alright at first, but after missing a 10-pin in the sixth frame and a few light pocket hits I moved back to my initial line. I missed my mark in the eighth and opened on the 1-2-4, but managed to pick up 29 pins in the tenth to pull out a 180 game.

I blew it in the third game again, mainly out of fatigue and a lack of concentration.  I opened on the 4-6-7-10 in the third, 1-2-4-8 in the fourth, the 2-4-5 in the fifth and the 1-2-4-7 in the eighth frames. I had to change something, give myself a reason to concentrate on my release and my target, so I moved outside slightly to the 20 board and threw at about the 7 1/2 board (blue line in diagram) to try to take advantage of the increasing hook as the pattern broke down. For the most part it worked, but I only finished with a 142.

The last game started with a chopped 2-9 in the second frame. I threw a turkey after that, but then had one of the worst stretches of bowling I can remember. I missed a 7-pin in the sixth, a 10-pin in the seventh and eighth and a 6-pin in the ninth. My first balls were all in the pocket, but I was not throwing good spare balls. I finished out the game alright, but it was way too late. I finished with a 152.

I fell victim to the Scorpion this week. I missed my mark to the right a few times, something I don't normally do, and I paid the price with some ugly leaves involving the headpin. Factor in six missed single pin leaves and a few chopped double-woods and it was one awful night. It was the first time in a long long time that I left the alley feeling so miserable I didn't want to go back the following week.

But I'm not going to let the Scorpion beat me. I have one more week to show it what I can do. I've seen two different sides to this pattern: one was slow changing and consistent with my research, but the other was an ever-changing monster. A big part of this week's changing conditions was that one of my opponents was throwing a huge hook through my line, but the majority of the problem was my inconsistency. As advertised, the PBA patterns magnify the parts of your game that need improvement. I'm grateful for the confirmation of my earlier analysis, now I just need to work on correcting the problems.

July 4, 2012

Week 7/Scorpion Recap

Game 1: 177
Game 2: 201
Game 3: 163
Game 4: 174
Series: 715
Week Avg: 178
Scorpion Avg: 178
Season Avg: 183

I was excited to start a new pattern and even more excited because we were bowling against our friend Josh. His teammate carries a 219 average in his house leagues, so I was looking forward to watching how he handled himself on the lanes. The pattern performed as advertised for the most part. I was actually surprised at how much my ball reacted in the shorter backend. I started my evening with my left foot on the 20 board and throwing at the 8 board near the arrows (blue line in diagram). Although I was standing about where I did for the Cheetah pattern, I found myself throwing straighter through the frontend and relying on the increased hook in the backend to find the pocket.

Right off the bat I started the first game by missing the 1-2-4-5. I was having a little bit of a problem getting a good hit into the pocket, hitting slightly high or light which wasn't carrying like it would on a house pattern. I missed the 4-6 split in the sixth frame and chopped the 6-10 in the eighth. Late in the game I found the ball hitting high more often than not. I finished with a 177, but managed to take a point from my semi-pro competitor.

I was coming in consistently high to start the second game and I took this to mean that the first transition described in my Scorpion post was upon us. I moved my body left to the 20 1/2 board and threw at the 9 board (black line in diagram) starting in the third frame and began striking. My only open was a missed 7-pin in the eighth frame and I finished the second game with a 201.

The third game once again saw me battling accuracy issues. For the most part I was able to cover my mistakes by making my spares, but the second transition kicked in halfway through the game and amplified my errors. My high pocket hits turned into dead-on shots leaving the 6-7 split in the seventh, the 6-7-10 split in the eighth, and the 2-4-5 in the tenth frames. I was able to diagnose my problem as not staying parallel to the foul line at my release, facing slightly to the left and thus missing my mark to the left. I finished the third game with a 163.

I started the last game by moving up on the approach about six inches to avoid leaving splits from high hits. I missed an easy 2-pin in the second frame and chopped the 3-9-10 in the sixth frame, but other than that I was hitting the pocket pretty well. My biggest problem was that I wasn't able to carry the corners consistently, leaving a lot of 4- and 10-pins. I finished with a 174 game and 715 series.

Tonight was one of those nights where I bowled a bit worse than I actually felt. For the most part I wasn't throwing a bad ball, but I was a little slow to make adjustments. I have a better idea now of when to expect the lane transitions and I hope to anticipate them in the upcoming weeks. I have been on a steady decline the last few outings, so I need to pick it up and start throwing clean games or stringing some strikes together.

My opponent tried about six or seven different balls during practice and never really settled on one until the end of the first game. He threw more of an arching hook, placing the ball right over the second arrow. The ball itself was, as predicted, a duller more reactive ball. I think that because we were playing lines close to each other, even intersecting at two points, we were pushing oil back onto the other's line which resulted in less of an overall change in the pattern for us. It will be interesting to see how the pattern changes as I play against different bowlers.