October 31, 2012

Week 9 Recap

Game 1: 190
Game 2: 201
Game 3: 193
Series: 584
Week Avg: 194
Season Avg: 190

I thought it would be a good idea to give my ball a quick cleaning before starting league, especially since we played on a bit more oil last week.  It turned out to be a great idea because the ball moved masterfully throughout the night.  There were only six of us on our pair of lanes and I was the only one playing my line, so I didn't have to make a single adjustment all night.  That being said, the old Zach decided to show up and inconsistency ruined an opportunity for a big night.

I was throwing well in the first game at first, with strikes and single pin spares being the norm. I missed a 7-pin late in the game by missing my mark a few boards to the left.  Then in the tenth frame I missed my mark a board left on my first ball, hit high in the pocket, and left split. This was my first blown opportunity at a 200 game, finishing with a 190.

The second game started with a double and a few spares. I missed a 10-pin and a 2-4-10 split this game, but luckily was able to string five in a row at the end of the game to save a 201.

The third game was much like the first. I missed another 10-pin (I really need to work on that) and left another split in the tenth frame. I ruined my second 200 of the evening to finish with a 193.

When I hit my mark the pins didn't stand a chance. I was able to play one board closer to the gutter than I had the past few weeks, giving me a better line into the pocket.  I didn't leave nearly as many corner pins as I had in previous weeks; however, I didn't capitalize on the ones I did leave. I missed one 7-pin out of two leaves and missed both 10-pins. For some reason I have a difficult time throwing over my target when shooting at the 10-pin, playing conservatively by missing a board or two to the left.

With so few bowlers we were bowling at a pretty quick pace. This made it difficult for me to keep my preferred pace and I often found myself rushing my shots. When I rush my shots I miss my mark, which can lead to splits. And I had a nasty case of the splits this week. It took me a frame or two, and usually a multi-pin leave, before I realized I had to settle down and not fall victim to the up tempo speed. Overall though it was a productive, over average outing.

We bowled against the top team this week and came out on the other side taking five of seven possible points. Their anchor bowled 49 pins over average the first game in addition to the 90 pins handicap we gave them each game, so we lost an uphill battle that time.  But we pulled it together and bowled well as a team the last two games and were able to win both and take total pinfall.

The C-System is getting plugged as we speak (or rather as I type/as you read) and I will be getting it drilled on Saturday. After calling just about every pro shop in the Pittsburgh area on Monday I ended up taking it to the same place I took the Python to get drilled. I like the place, but its just inconvenient to get there. I guess when it comes to your equipment, though, its more important to get it done right than to make decisions based on convenience.  Live and learn, then bowl.

October 23, 2012

Week 8 Recap

Game 1: 186
Game 2: 171
Game 3: 200
Series: 557
Week Avg: 185
Season Avg: 190

On Sunday I decided to go out and take the C-System for a spin. Although I've had it since August, I had yet to throw a full game with it.  If you recall, I purchased the ball from a fellow bowler over the summer and had the fingertip inserts changed out to my size, but just changed the slug in the thumb hole rather than paying to have the hole plugged and redrilled to compensate for the minute difference in my span from how the ball was already drilled. I loved the way the ball reacted, but I wasn't able to consistently hit my mark because the ball would fall off my hand early. When I did hit my marks the pins didn't stand a chance. I'm taking a vacation day on Monday and at least part of my time off will consist of me going to a better pro shop to have the thumb hole plugged and the span corrected. I look forward to having this ball as a fully functioning member of my arsenal, particularly on nights like yesterday . . .

I planned to move my marks further outside this week to get better carry and hopefully throw more strikes; however, how far I had to move outside to find the pocket was completely unexpected. For the first time this season the lane conditions differed, with heavy oil in the front end causing the ball to break later down the lane. I ended up standing with my left foot on the 22 board and throwing at the 7 board at the arrows, the same shot I played on the Viper pattern over the summer. I struck on occasion, but still had difficulty stringing them together. I missed a 3-10 split in the seventh frame and then missed an easy 4-7 in the tenth frame to finish with a 186.

The second game saw me throw three splits and miss an easy 6-pin. I spent much of the game trying to fine tune my line. It seemed that for the majority of the game I was either just high enough to leave a split or just light enough to leave a 2- or 4-pin.  But when I was in the pocket, it was a thing of beauty.  I spared in the tenth frame for a 171.

The third game was just as frustrating as the first two after doubling early. I left one split this game, but stayed clean the rest of the way. After a series of spares I realized that I was over-rotating my wrist and trying to force the ball across the lane.  After easing up a little bit on my release I threw a turkey beginning in the ninth frame to round out the evening with a 200 on the nose.

I'm officially in a downward spiral with my average plummeting 4 pins in the last few weeks.  I'm still not throwing a bad ball, I just need to find that line to the sweet spot. I've been lucky enough to make the majority of my spares, without that this small slump would be a whole lot worse.  These games drag on and I feel like I am bowling terribly, but then I look at the score and I'm really not that far off pace. A few more pins bounce my way and I'm stringing six or more strikes together. It'll come, I just need to be patient and make small, smart adjustments.

Our lead off man had a great night last night and kept us in all three games, picking up the slack for however many pins I was under average. On a night when I personally could have used a bit of pressure to keep me on top of my game, we had clinched all but the first game before I stepped on the approach in the tenth.  This was also the first week the team took all available points so I'll take it, but hopefully I can contribute a bit more next week.

October 16, 2012

Week 7 Recap

Game 1: 178
Game 2: 196
Game 3: 189
Series: 563
Week Avg: 187
Season Avg: 191

The lanes were pretty consistent to the rest of the season thus far. I have been playing a line standing with my left foot at the 24 1/2 board and throwing over the 9 board at the arrows.  The consistency has been nice given the limited amount of practice, two to three frames, before the games start.

The first game started with a strike, but quickly dove back into the usual routine of single pin leaves for spares. My only miss in this game was a well deserved 4-6 split resulting from a head-on shot. As a team we were playing well enough to make up for the 60 ppg handicap, but some late game problems created an insurmountable lead by the time it was my turn to throw in the tenth. I struck and spared, but the lack of doubles held me to a 178.

I set myself up fairly well on the right lane for much of the rest of the night. I missed the first 10-pin I saw last night, but picked up two others later in the evening. I finally managed to double and was on pace for a 200 until late in the game. In the tenth frame I struck and then left the 1-2-4 after missing my mark right and the ball caught some displaced oil. On the spare attempt I missed right again and left the 2-pin standing for another open.

I needed a 200 or better in the last game to break even this week. The third game started with a double and I struck all but one frame on the right lane. I was in the pocket on the left lane, but just couldn't get the carry I needed. I missed a 4-pin in the middle of the game after debating on how to shoot the spare (I clearly chose poorly), but otherwise stayed clean for the remainder including the conversion of a 5-10 split. After being beaten by nearly 100 pins the second game the team pulled it together for a win in the third, clinching before I threw in the tenth. Coming off a spare in the ninth I needed to strike out to hit my average for the night.  Instead I spared again and earned a nine on my last ball for a 189.

On the drive home I commented to my wife that so far my summer PBA Experience League seems to have been a waste of time and money. My average hasn't budged and I am currently where I finished up last year. But then I got to thinking this morning, and that isn't an entirely fair assessment. I am much more consistent in hitting my marks and replicating shots than I was at the end of last season. I can evaluate a bad shot more quickly than in the past, identify the problem, and usually correct it in a frame or two. My spare shooting has improved, for the most part, since I began implementing a modified 3-6-9 system, including the conversion of several splits so far this season. To sum it up, I no longer feel lost when it comes to certain aspects of my game.

I have been hammering the pocket lately, I just can't seem to turn those good pocket hits into strikes. I've always relied on spare shooting to improve my game, but I have reached a point where spares aren't enough. If you follow the blog, you'll recall that early in the PBA Experience League I had to overcome a subconscious tether of my mark to the second arrow, or 10 board. Once I relieved myself of that restriction I was able to find more success on the various oil patterns. For some reason that tether reattached at the start of the season and, even though I am in the pocket, I believe that it is still a hindrance to my game.

For next week I am going to try moving everything farther to the right in the hope that a different entry angle will provide the pin action required to strike with some frequency.  I also need to go out and practice with the C-System I purchased at the end of the summer and really see what that can do. I know some of my limitations are holding my game back, but perhaps a change in equipment is also in order.

October 9, 2012

Week 6 Recap

Game 1: 171
Game 2: 182
Game 3: 182
Series: 535
Week Avg: 178
Season Avg: 191

With the unexpected and permanent departure of our opponent's anchor due to some medical reason, we saw the amount of handicap given to them increase from 49 to 113, so we had a bit of ground to make up each game.

The first game started out with a spare and a strike. I was in the pocket most shots, but the ball just didn't seem to want to carry this week. I threw another strike surrounded by all the spares through the middle of the game. I opened on a 4-pin late in the game, but was able to stay clean the rest of the way. My teammates put me in a great position as the anchor, so I only needed to mark to win the game in the tenth. I picked up a solid 5-pin leave for the win and a 171 game.

The second game was a tale of two halves. The first half saw me miss a 10-pin, strike, and then throw three splits in a row. In the second half I threw a spare and a turkey. In the tenth frame I needed two marks to win the game. I left another 4-pin on my first shot, but luckily I was more accurate this time and picked up the spare. I adjusted slightly closer to the foul line on my final shot and struck to win the game for the team and salvage a 182 for myself.

The third game was pretty unremarkable. I had a difficult time striking, but was better at picking up my spares. Even though we were behind going into the tenth, our opponent's last bowler didn't make an effort to throw first, so I wasn't sure how far behind we'd be in the end. I always try to strike, so it didn't really matter to me. My first ball in the tenth was buried in the pocket, but then something happened that I've never seen before.  The 6-pin was tapped by another pin and slid, while standing straight up, to a position just left of where the 5-pin usually is. It never wobbled and never leaned. I picked up the spare and struck my last ball, but that odd leave cost us the game and left me with another 182.

I wasn't as consistent this week. I caught myself a few times just not giving my full concentration to hitting my marks. Getting too comfortable in your abilities can be a curse, and I fell victim last night. To make matters worse, the line was a bit tighter than it had been my last few outings and so a miss a board or two from my mark was not as nearly forgiving.

It was a weird night at the bowling alley to be sure. I was stunned at the awful pin action for most of the bowlers on our pair this week. My incident in the third game was not the only one involving sliding, teetering, and rolling pins.  I can think of about ten cases where a pin walked or slid out of position instead of falling. More than I can ever remember happening during one night. To top it off, at the end of the first game as our lead off bowler was shooting for a spare a pair of legs dropped down onto the lanes in front of the pins just after his ball hit them. It was scary because if that ball had hit him his leg would have been broken, but those pins were also still in play and he could have affected the outcome.

Unfortunately this wasn't the only inconsiderate thing the bowling center did last night. Just as we were preparing to start the second game two women and three kids, I'd say about 2, 3 and 11 years of age, were placed on the pair of lanes next to our's. Yes, there was an empty lane between us; however, these ladies could not control the kids and they were running around all over the approach. Finally, after finishing about seven frames, one woman and the two year old fell about a quarter of the way down the lane and they decided to call it a night.

This is a pretty sad commentary on who the bowling centers think are more important. It isn't league bowlers, that's for sure.  These were the only pair of lanes open last night and who knows what the center would have done if a league pair broke down. Most adults don't have bowling etiquette, so I don't know why they thought a couple of toddlers would. These people were given a lane on a full house league night, yet I have been denied a lane several times because the center was hosting a couple of birthday and Steeler game watch parties. If you want to know why the sport of bowling is declining, look to the centers, the "activity" of bowling, and the bigger profits they bring.

October 5, 2012

Week 5 Recap

Game 1: 181
Game 2: 178
Game 2: 226
Series: 585
Week Avg: 195
Season Avg: 194

After a two week break while recovering from gall bladder surgery I was finally cleared to get back to action. I had been looking forward to this for days, but I was also a little worried on how I was going to hold up. The area around all four incisions was still a bit tender and there was some lingering back pain, so I wasn't sure how this would affect my release and follow through at the foul line. Needless to say I wanted to take as much practice as possible to feel things out; however, I was only able to throw two frames during our 10 minute session.  Luckily lane conditions have been pretty consistent, so I was more concerned about my mechanics than finding a line.

The first game started well enough with a few spares.  There didn't seem to be any lingering effects and I was throwing the ball really well. I was leaving 6- and 10-pins so I moved back a few inches, but then I was coming in high and leaving the 4- and 7- pins.  I moved left a board to try to correct that problem and hit light again, so I moved back one board to the right. It was a matter of about an inch or two on the approach and in the pocket, but I just couldn't seem to hit the sweet spot. I did double once, but I also missed a 10-pin late in the game. I finished with a 181.

The second game was pretty similar to the first.  I was in the pocket every shot, but couldn't get the pins to fall. I chopped a 6-10 and left an 8-10 split during this game, but they would be the last opens I'd see for the night. Late in the game I started running high so I moved up a few inches, but realized that I would have to go left a board to start the third.  I had a 178 this game, but felt pretty optimistic about the last game.

I started by alternating strikes and spares the first four frames and then threw a turkey. The more direct line I was forced to play the first two games gave way to a more arching line that gave me the carry I needed to take down all ten pins. I spared the next three frames and then struck out in the tenth frame to finish with a clean 226, a new season high.

This was actually the most consistent I have ever bowled.  All but one ball was in the pocket and the one that missed fell off my hand a little early.  I didn't miss my mark by more than a board all night.  I think that one reason behind this success was that I was being particularly careful easing myself back into bowling shape. I took my time and made sure that I was keeping good form and finishing every shot. I knew that as long as my body did what it should be doing I wouldn't hurt myself and I escaped the night with only slight discomfort in the area around where my gall bladder used to live.  As I get back to 100%, I need to be sure to continue keeping my own pace and not rushing my shots.

As I drove home I was mentally scolding myself for the first two games.  I was not hitting the pocket effectively making only adjustments to my body position on the approach, but I tried to force it to work. Throughout the night I considered changing hand position to either take some revs off to correct high hits or add some revs to correct light hits, but in the end I didn't make the adjustment until the third game.  Once I moved to the left a board and laid the ball flatter in my hand at the start of my delivery I was right where I wanted to be. By the end of the game the oil broke down enough and I went back to my normal hand position.  I need to make sure that second guessing doesn't cost me as many games as has in the past.  Its time to trust my instincts and then react to what I see.

With Labor Day and my surgery I have yet to get into a good rhythm this season. October up to Christmas provides a nice stretch of consecutive bowling weeks and I hope to develop a nice routine and get back to some normalcy. I'm a creature of habit, so I think that should benefit me in the end.