June 11, 2013

Summer Practice Session #1

As I mentioned before, I have decided to forego a summer league this year to develop a practice regimen focusing on a few weak points in my game. For my first session I wanted to work on playing different lines and areas of the lane.

I started by throwing five frames to warm up and set a baseline, which was my typical line of standing with my left foot on the 24 board and throwing over the 8 board at the arrows. Once this was established I moved my body and mark right so that I would roll over the first arrow and strike consistently. After a couple tries I found a good line and was able to carry pretty well. Then I moved my body left and my mark to the second arrow and tried to strike from there. Even though this line was only two boards different than my baseline I found this to be the hardest to strike with regularity. I eventually threw a few good balls and decided to work further left to shoot over the third arrow. This brought me to a part of the lane I rarely consider, but I was able to manage some success quickly.

In addition to gaining familiarity with what my go-to ball can do on various parts of the lane, this exercise also helped me get a bit more comfortable throwing in areas I seldom use. Throwing at the 4 or 5 board doesn't have to be scary or intimidating because the ball will come back to the pocket. On the other hand, when done correctly, throwing closer to the center of the lane can also be useful on particularly dry lanes on league night. Gaining versatility will allow me to be prepared for varying and changing lane conditions and make me a more difficult bowler to play against.

After playing around with these lines I threw one last game reverting back to my baseline, which still worked best (that's why it was my baseline). I struck the first 7 frames and then left a 10-pin in the eighth. As I was two steps into my delivery in the ninth frame the lights went off in the bowling center and the blacklights came on. It was 11AM, birthday party time. Since there were no accompanying lasers I couldn't see individual boards and my last two frames were a bit off. I still finished with a 244 game, but it could have been a bit better.

Luckily, early in the last game I took a video of my delivery for analysis. The line I'm playing and delivery are typical of what I was throwing in league this past season.

Starting at the footwork I noticed that my first step does come slightly left as recommended, forcing me to walk a straight line to the foul line and allowing a straight arm swing. I start my delivery from a crouched position to compensate for the fact that my sliding knee does not bend much at the point of release. This results in the ball landing about 4 feet out on lane instead of seamlessly from my hand just over the foul line. Also, the toe of my sliding foot points inside rather than straight ahead, which I find offers a bit more balance. Which brings me to my balance leg, which is elevated instead of sliding on the approach. This can be an issue sometimes causing me to fall off my shot to gain balance, but since this is pretty much how I have bowled my entire life I think I have adapted fairly well.

My shoulders stay pretty level and square to the foul line when I am throwing well. If I dip my right shoulder or open up my shoulders then my accuracy tends to suffer. You'll notice that I start with the ball pretty close to my body just under waist level, resulting in a backswing that peaks just even with my head. I also stay behind the ball until the point of release when I rotate my thumb from about 3 o'clock to about 11 or 12 o'clock. I plan to work on ball and wrist positioning over the summer so the backswing and hand position could vary.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts and analysis of my video. I'm far from text book and always looking to improve, but for now it gets results.


  1. I'll critique yours if you critique mine :)

    1. Sure thing Matt. I must have watched mine 25 times to get the description I listed in this post. Yours should be easier because you added the slow motion.

  2. Zach, only two things stood out to me.

    One, your slide foot ends up 8 boards to the right of the board it started on. I used to drift more than that but it's been something I've tried to eliminate over the past year but it often creeps back into my game.

    Two, I think you fall off your shot, at the end, due to a timing issue but if that's how you've done it your whole life, you might not want to tinker with that.

    I think you get a tremendous amount of lift on the ball, something I need to add to my swing.

    1. Thanks for the analysis Matt. I have sort of come to terms with walking toward my target, or drifting, and my game has developed around it.

      As for the timing/falling of my shot, you are absolutely right. There are occasions when I get synced up really well and I don't fall off at the end. I do need to practice on keeping my balance and getting my timing worked out so this doesn't become my norm.