October 22, 2013

Another Paternity Leave Pre-Bowl

It is sort of difficult expecting a baby in the middle of league season. Our first was born in June and my wife actually bowled an entire season while pregnant. Our second is due on December 22nd, but you never really know when the baby might get sick of her current abode and decide its time to venture out to see the world. To be a good father and husband I am planning to take at least a month off from my regularly scheduled league nights to help out with the baby and our 2 year old. As a result, I need to roll off for at least four weeks of bowling so I don't leave my team high and dry and also to get in a good number of games to make this year's average comparable to last year's. I need to get these pre-bowls in now in case the baby decides to come early. Since I don't know the exact week the scores will be used it makes the recap format a bit more challenging, but I'll give it a whirl.

On Sunday I threw my second week of paternity pre-bowls. I wanted to shake off the collapse of Monday's performance and so I really focused on finishing balanced at the foul line and following through over my target. The result was a 224, 212 and a 213. I haven't thrown many average 600s this season, everything has been well over average or well under, and so this was a pretty good outing.

The lanes were a bit dry, but were manageable and even a bit forgiving when using the Python. The only problem I have discovered with that ball is the fit of the thumb hole. When I play three games with it I get a pretty bad rub on the outside of my thumb just below the knuckle. I lose a layer of skin, it gets red and irritated, but always heals up enough so that I can throw a layer of New Skin over it before the start of league next week. It typically only happens when I need to use some tape, but its not an issue of the ball being too tight. Its very odd and the only solution may be to just have the thumb redrilled, but since the ball was already resurfaced due to the machine damage from last season is it really worth it or should I just buy a replacement. So many decisions.

My biggest concern during the outing was spare shooting . . . again. I missed a 10-pin in the tenth frame of the first game and the first frame of the second game. I also miscalculated on an adjustment to pickup the 1-2 in the tenth frame of the third game. It has been both poor decision making and poor execution all happening at the most inopportune moments. If I'm going to continue my success on the lanes and maybe even get better I will need to improve my spare shooting and become more consistent in my overall play.

October 18, 2013

Pre-Bowl and Week 7 Recap

On Sunday I went out to bank a few games for my upcoming hiatus when my daughter is born. The lanes were not as dry as last week's pre-bowl, but they were definitely not treated after a long night of open bowling. Luckily I was throwing a much better ball and was able to put together my first average series of the season: 237, 191 and 192. My spare shooting was still sub-par, though, particularly the 10-pin.

On Monday, then, I had some confidence that I had shaken the troubles of two weeks ago. My first game, a 225, pretty much confirmed this. Though a missed 9-pin near the end of the game did give me some cause for concern and was an omen of things to come. The following two games saw me revert back to being unable to hit my marks. I was constantly missing left and was bitten by splits a few times. I threw a 172 in the second game and a dismal 155 in the third, a new season low. A positive is that I made all but one of my corner pin shots and I was much better at spare shooting overall.

Outside of weeks 2 and 3 I have been unable to string together consistent good performances, which was a key to last year's success. Being unbalanced at the foul line has been a big part of what is dragging down my game. I wasn't able to correct it on Monday night and I will have to shake it off and get back on track my next time out. I probably should have switched down to the Python after the first games as the oil was getting a bit unpredictable at the end of the first game. In the end, though, if I can't hit my targets it doesn't matter what ball I'm using out there.

I have to miss the next league night and have scores already on file, another 552 matching this week's performance, but will be back on the lanes on Sunday to pre-bowl another set for later in the season. I thought that throwing 3 extra games a week would help me break out of these problems, but I feel like what I need right now is a break.Hopefully scaling back to 3 games this week will put me back on track.

October 9, 2013

Week 6 Recap

Game 1: 268
Game 2: 245
Game 3: 256
Series: 769
Week Avg: 256
Season Avg: 212

Coming into the night my goal was to keep my head down and hit my mark on every shot. After my last three outings I just needed to simplify my game and let the rest fall into place. I threw quite a bit of practice and felt pretty comfortable, like I was still loose from throwing on Sunday. Also, the line that was working best for me had me throwing right over the second arrow which gave a clear mark to hit on each throw.

My first shot hit a little high to leave the 4-pin, which I spared. Then I threw the next seven strikes in a row before another high hit left the 4-7, which I also spared. I struck out in the tenth for a 268. The second game developed the pattern of a double followed by a spare through the front eight frames. I broke the pattern with strikes in the ninth and tenth frames before leaving the 10-pin. I missed right on my spare attempt for my first open and my third 245 of the short season. The third game started with another double. I left the 6-10 twice in a row, chopping the 10-pin on the first attempt and converting on the second. I was able to strike out for a 256 and my new high series, 769.

During my first game I knew I was going to have a big night. I just felt on. My only two shots all night that missed left went Brooklyn for strikes. I kept my head down and I never felt more focused. And I've never thrown that many strikes. The two opens stung a bit, especially given how obtainable an 800 series could have been, but I kept my cool and I'm happy to report I am out of that slump.

It doesn't happen often, but I could feel the eyes at my back throughout the night. People were watching and it felt great. I don't think I'm arrogant or anything like that, but man does it feel good to be noticed for the right reasons. I got a few comments about a 300 game in my future and the possibility of going pro which I always dismiss, especially the latter, but coming from people who are around bowling a lot it tends to carry a bit more weight with me than the random comments from some kid while I am out practicing. With this consistency and focus maybe that 300 isn't so far away.

The thing I look forward to the most after a big night is telling my dad. I'm 28 years old, married with a daughter and another on the way, but he is the first person I think about when I'm doing well. I bowl because of him and he helped me get to the level I am at today. He is always so excited to hear about these nights and is so proud that he brags about it to his teammates on Thursday nights (one of which is my little brother who isn't a bad bowler in his own right). When that perfect game does come I know who is getting that first phone call.

For now, though, I need another good performance before my turd of a pre-bowl is used on October 21. The team struggled early on, but we've taken 12 of 14 possible points the last two weeks. A few more big nights and we are in the running as the first half comes to a close around Christmas. Personal slumps and triumphs aside it is a team sport and anything can happen.

October 7, 2013

Week 8 Pre-Bowl Recap

Game 1: 179
Game 2: 172
Game 3: 201
Series: 552
Week Avg: 184

And the song remains the same. Coming into the alley on Sunday I had one goal: get out of this slump. I knew I was missing my mark to the left because I was unbalanced at the foul line, but I still wasn't very clear on what exactly the problem was. I needed to diagnose and resolve this issue if I was going to bowl better.

The lanes were dry, untreated after a night of laser light bowling. I moved down to my Python and just for fun at the end of practice I decided to throw my plastic spare ball. Surprisingly it hooked quite a bit and I was able to cover about 12 boards in the backend. I was basically able to throw my preferred line for a fresh oil pattern with my most reactive ball with my non-reactive plastic ball.

I started the first game with a turkey and then missed my mark left in the fourth frame, but I finally found the problem. I was looking up before my ball crossed my target, pulling my head up and causing me to miss left. i focused on keeping my head down the rest of the day and I only missed my mark a handful of times after that. I chopped my spare in the fourth but had a pretty solid game until the ninth and tenth frames. I left pocket 4-6 and 8-10 splits killing my chances at a 200 game.

The second game started with a double before the wheels fell off again. This game I missed four spares, including three single pin leaves. Not corner pins either, a 6-pin and two 8-pins. I finished a bit stronger to salvage another game in the 170s.

The third game was better. Not too many strikes, but I kept it clean. After four straight pocket hits couldn't carry the corners I moved down to the plastic ball and played over the 8-board which gave me a better entry angle and better carry. I squeaked out a 201 and I was thrilled.

For the most part I came in and did what I set out to do. I diagnosed a problem and I fixed it. I tried to make the best of a bad situation given the lane conditions and I suppose I was lucky to escape with a 550+ series.

The next issue to tackle is my lackluster spare shooting. Now that I can hit my mark, it should just be a matter of concentration and execution. I know how to line up for spares, now I just need to get it done. We'll see how things pan out tonight.

October 4, 2013

Week 5 Recap

Game 1: 166
Game 2: 159
Game 3: 205
Series: 530
Week Avg: 176
Season Avg: 204

This week was awful and I was really down after a pretty poor performance. My timing was off causing me to be unbalanced at the foul line which then caused me to miss my mark left on most shots. No matter what I did I could not consistently deliver a good shot. I wasn't getting good carry when I did hit my mark and I missed a few easy spares. It bothered me. I thought I was better than that. I thought I was capable of making adjustments and fixing problems. I thought wrong.

I've bowled poorly before, but this was the first week that truly bothered me. I put off writing this post all week and considered giving up the blog altogether. Who needs to relive failure over and over again? Well, successful people do, that's who. That is how they learn. That is how I will get out of this free fall.

Let's be honest, two stellar weeks so early in the season put my average well above my abilities. Seeing that big number next to my name was exciting, but it made me believe I was better than I am. I made an naive goal of not bowling below a 550 this year after completing my first season with no 400 series. The last two weeks have grounded me, though, and I'm determined to not let my average get below 200. I know I can do that, I just need to work on a few things.

A few days removed from the unpleasantness I can see a bit clearer and find some positives. I know what my problem was, I just need to fix it. I think it is a matter of posture and following through on my shots so some practice should clear that up. Also, the lanes were dry again this week but I was able to move left, find some oil and return to the pocket so long as I hit my marks. These are steps in the right direction.

I've composed myself now and have some confidence back. I can fix this. I am pre-bowling on Sunday to start banking games for my paternity leave in December so I can get to correcting my game soon.

Until then I just need to stay calm and get through this little slump.