What exactly is a "slump" in bowling? Well, it's what happens to all of us at some point or another during our bowling years and it's not fun at all! If you're not bowling up to par for several weeks and can't figure out what you're doing wrong, don't PANIC!! When you panic and start worrying about your average going down, or that your team is losing games because of you, it will get worse.
The key is to stay calm and realize that you're NOT alone. When I was a beginner, I always tried to figure out what I was doing wrong which was very difficult. I decided to just focus on the things I needed to do in order to execute a good shot. Here are some check points I've listed below. Make sure you focus on doing these things correctly.
1. Walking slow and straight
2. Having the trailing foot more in back of you rather than out to the side.
3. Checking your hand position for the 10:00 or 11:00 release.
4. Getting out one the correct target.
5. Being square to the target.
6. Making sure you are not dropping the bowling arm shoulder.
7. Having a nice smooth pendulum swing, no jerky movements.
8. Attacking the pins with confidence so your speed will be good, and consistent. If you're getting disgusted with your
performance, it could affect your speed and if you are going too slow, the ball will hook too much.
9. Check the bowling ball finger grips for being too loose or too snug. If you have gained or lost weight, you need to check those, otherwise your release may not not be good.
10. Check thumb hole for being too lose or too tight.
11. Check if the ball is skidding rather than rolling into the pocket.
If you focus on the check points, the problem will correct itself. You can also have a friend come along with you during your practice sessions and film you. Then you can examine yourself from the back so you may be able to see any issues.
If you prefer, if have some friends from the league that bowl better than you, you can ask one of them to come down and watch you for a few frames. They may be able to spot the issue right away so you can back to getting those high score again. If you are still bowling under average after several weeks of practicing these check points, it may be time to talk to the pro in the pro shop for a lesson or two. Tell the pro the issue you are having and they will get you back on track!
Join me next week when I'll be discussing Bowling Coaches.
Good luck and high scoring!
If you are interested in joining a Bowling League, pretty much all you need to do is call or go to the bowling center near where you live and ask about the different leagues they have. You need to decide which evening and time works best for you, so you can do your best to be there every week. Most leagues meet once a week and if you'd like to bring a friend along you can join together. There are usually 3-5 members on a team so if you have 3 or 4 friends, you can all be on the same team. The Winter Leagues usually start in September and range from 26-36 weeks long, and the Summer Leagues are 11-12 weeks long. I had moved in the middle of a season and was able to join a league by getting the phone number of the person in charge of the league I wanted to join. Some teams were not yet full and needed someone. Most leagues bowl approximately 3 games per week and can take 2-3 hours depending on how many people are on a team.
League prices vary depending on what area you live in. I lived in New York and in Colorado, and the leagues in Colorado were less per week than those in New York for example. Some may be $16+ per week and the Senior Leagues are usually less per week, since many Seniors are retired and living on a fixed income.
Rules can vary from league to league so it's important that you attend any meetings they may have, especially on the first night the league begins. League positions for president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary are usually voted on during that first meeting. To be eligible for prizes concerning 300 games one may bowl during the year, you must join a "Sanctioned League" which follows all the ABC Rules (American Bowling Congress). These sanction dues must be paid within the first few weeks after the league begins and the cost is approximately $20+.
You can get a hand book of rules from your league secretary. Some may include facts concerning questions like:
* If a bowler arrives late, can they bowl now or not until the next game begins?
* How many games does the league bowl per week?
* How many weeks will the season last?
* If I'm absent, can I have a substitute bowler take my place?
* Are substitute bowlers allowed to bowl on position rounds? ( Position nights are when 1st place bowls the 2nd place team, 3rd place bowls the 4th place team, etc).
There are all kinds of Leagues you can be a team member on:
1. Handicap Leagues:
In this type of league, each person receives extra pins per game depending on their average. Some leagues work on an 80% or 90% handicap using 200 as a base or 230 as a base. For example, if your league uses a 200 base and your average is 150, the you subtract 150 from 200 which is 50. If your league uses an 80% handicap, 80% of 50 is 40 so your handicap will be 40 pins per game. Prize money at the end of the season is given out to each team, the most for first place and down to last, and trophies are reserved for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams.
2. Scratch Leagues:
Scratch leagues do NOT give out a handicap. They usually cost more money and since is more prize money is involved, there is more pressure to bowl your average or better each week. This type of league is for those who average at least 180+, so if you want to socialize more, then this would not be the league for you.
3. Senior Leagues:
These Leagues are reserved for those 50 years or older. Usually prizes consist of cash only and they are mostly for socializing.
4. Junior Leagues:
These are reserved for children ages 6-16. They are mostly on week ends, but some meet after school. Teams vary from 2-3 players and the cost is approximately $9 per week. There is no prize money involved , since they are under the age of 18, but trophies, or gift cards to various establishments may be given out at the end of the season.
There are also many other Leagues available such as Vacation Leagues-where the team that finishes in first place at the end wins a vacation, Mens Leagues-for men only, Women leagues-for women only, and Disability Leagues-for the handicapped, where they have special ramps for the ball to slide down that can be moved left or right on the approach.
Please join a league if you are not already on one. There are very low to very high averaged bowlers on leagues so by being there each week, you will make friends and only improve. Before joining up, please read my blog post on "Etiquette" posted on May 24, 2021 so you will be ready!
Join me next week when I'll be discussing about what happens to everyone in bowling, "Slumps".
Good Luck and High scoring!
If you are not working at the present time, I recommend going practicing during the daytime hours when kids are in school. It's not as crowded in the bowling centers as it is on the week ends, and getting lane or two will be easier. Kids get excited and don't wait for you even if you are already set up on the lane.They also gather around each other and don't sit down which are huge distractions. If you can only get there on the week ends, then practice stepping back even if you are already set up on the lane. It takes practice to discipline yourself to do this, but you'll bowl better if you do.
When you go to the lanes for practice, I recommend having something specific in mind. Don't just toss the ball out there. There are several things you can work on, nd you should practice each for a game or two. Here is a reminder list:
1. Walking up straight- Check where you starting point is and after you release the ball, look down at your feet to make
sure you are close to that same spot on the lane at the foul ine.
2. Getting the ball out over the intended target-You can put a piece of blue painters tape on the board or arrow you want
to use (check with the front desk if they will allow that first).
3. Get a good lift on the ball, keeping the fingers slightly bent-You can also touch your shoulder each time after the ball is
released and the follow through with your ar, This will insure a good lift.
4. Getting your Timing in sync with the footwork and ball release-Count your steps and feeling a good "".
5. Getting a good LOFT on the ball and trying to hit the same spot on the lane each time.You can put a towel out a few
feet from the foul Lin and see if you can land the ball on it each time.
6. Keeping your shoulders SQUARE to your target.
7. Practicing hitting any pins you may be having trouble with in the league.
8. Keeping your knees FLEXED (slightly bent) at the stance and throughout the walking and release.
These eight things are the real basics, and if you get these down the rest will come easier. Most of all, have fun and be patient with yourself. You want to be a good bowler, but it takes time and several hours of practice. Join me back here next week when I'll be discussing "Bowling Teams". See you then. Good Luck and high scoring!
15. DON’T BREAK THE WRIST. Keep the wrist even with your arm, not in a bent down position unless you are going for a 10 pin. Many bowlers use a wrist support that helps keep their wrist straight since the ball is a bit heavy. I use one because I have a 16 pound ball. If you feel you can’t hold your wrist straight, then invest in a wrist support. They are available at the pro shop as well as online where there are several to choose from.
16. KEEP ARM OUT SLIGHTLY TO THE SIDE which will allow for body clearance when your arm comes down with the bowling ball to go into the pendulum swing, otherwise you have to force your arm out to the side, and it could go out a little farther one time but not the same the next time. Once again, you need to be consistent.
17. FINISH IN AN UPRIGHT POSITION with a good knee bend if you are able, rather than bending from the waist which puts more stress on the back.
18. Remember my 5 “F’S”- FACE the ins squarely, FOCUS on all of these basics, don’t go too FAST, keep the trailing FOOT more in back of you rather than out excessively to the side, and have FUN!!!
19. Think on your FOREARM going up towards the ceiling and touch your back lightly, so you know you are getting a good LIFT on the ball after the release.
I certainly hope that your game has been improving. We have gone over many things since the beginning of my Blog. Remember to keep practicing and incorporating these basics every few games. There’s a lot to remember to be patient with yourself.
Join me here next week to find out more about "Practice makes Perfect"!
Good Luck and High scoring!!
There are basically four types of BALL TRACKS. Before you start your next practice game, wipe your ball off really well with your towel and then bowl your first shot. When the ball returns, pick it up and observe the “Oil Track” on the ball to determine what kind you have.
2. FULL ROLLER- The oil track on this ball runs around the center of the ball and falls between the thumb and finger holes. The bowler with this track gets a lot of mix on the pins, the hook isn’t as large as the person with the semi roller, and there isn’t much wrist turn when the ball is released.
3. SPINNER- You’ll notice the track of the oil here is way down on the ball and only covers a small portion of the balls’ circumference. A bowler with this track doesn’t have as much pin mix or power as the previous two tracks, but is rolled with a lot of wrist turn when the ball is released. There isn’t much hook and the ball deflects more when it hits the pins. Instead of the fingers normally finishing on the right side of the ball (left side for the left handed bowlers), they finish more at the top of the ball.
4. FLARE- This type of ball track is newer since the more modern balls have been made. The ball moves off it’s initial track and ends up making a new track with each rotation of the ball as it travels down the lane. This means more of the cleaner surface of the ball is touching the lane which will equal a larger hook. (As you recall, oil cuts down on the hook).
Checking your ball track will be able to tell you how consistent you have been in releasing the ball to make sure the oil ring is basically in the same area. If it’s off more than an inch, or so then you’ll need to work on keeping it consistent. After all, that’s the name of the Game!!
As I previously mentioned, I will be away for the month of July 2021, so please keep practicing the things we discussed and make sure you have been able to get all the necessary equipment. Having your own “stuff” will also keep you more consistent.
Good Luck and High Scoring!! Join me here next week when I'll be discussing more important things to do in bowling part 3.
A “Washout” is a spare leave with a space in between the pins, but the Headpin is still there (1 pin). It’s basically a split with the 1 pin present. They don’t consider it a split because theoretically you shouldn’t miss hitting the headpin.
Washouts, like splits, can still be difficult to convert. The first one we will discuss is the 1-3-7, or 1-3-6-7. You need to hit the 1 pin on the right side in hopes that it will slide over into the 7 pin. Try moving about ½ board or 1 full board to the left of where you normally stand for your strike shot. Use this as a starting point and adjust a little at a time until you can convert it.
Another washout you may encounter is the opposite, the 1-2-10, or 1-2-4-10. This time you will need to move slightly right of where you stand for the strike shot, so the 1 or 2 pin can slide over into the 10 pin. Remember, bowling is a game of angles and pins hitting into other pins for results!
There are several other “washouts” you may come across that I haven’t mentioned here, but you get the idea. It’s just a split with the headpin still remaining.
Another way I see bowlers going for some of these washouts, is to stand to the left at the stance to change the angle. Try converting these and take notes on how you made them so you can refer to them on league nights if you need to. The object is to get high scores, have fun, and help your team win the games!! There is so much satisfaction in bowling really well. I promise you will get there, just be patient with yourself because it takes time!
Next week I’ll be discussing “Ball Tracks”.
Good Luck and High Scoring!!
I wanted to take some time out to ask you how you’re doing. Have all the posts you’ve read make sense to you so far? If you are confused at all, welcome to the rest of the Bowling Community. It’s NOT as easy as it looks. You can’t just stand anywhere on the approach and toss the ball down the lane (like you may see lots of people doing during open play at the bowling enters) if you want to get a high score.
It takes lots of practice, devotion, and a real desire to get better. It’s like anything else, the more you really want it, the more you will do anything to achieve it. Do your best to fit in the necessary practice time, even if it means going in the evening after you’re a bit tired after a long day (Most leagues are in the mornings and evenings, but sometimes there may be a few open lanes).Or go on the week end and bring the family if you have to. You can practice staying focused on some of my basic principals with some distractions, which is how it is in the leagues anyway.If you have joined a summer league (which is only about 12 weeks), you can use that as practice for the upcoming winter league which usually starts in Sept. Most of the Winter leagues are about 34-36 weeks long.
Bowling is a game where you can't just figure out things in your head. You need to physically get out there on the lanes to try different things. Take notes on what you discover and review them often to refresh your memory. It’s not easy to remember everything, especially if you're a beginner.
Most importantly, NEVER GIVE UP!! If you can’t figure something out and it drives you crazy, move on to a different thing and go back to it at a later time. Come out swinging every time and keep going over the Basics I have mentioned in previous posts. Always start in the center of the approach (20th Board) and observe how your ball is working and where it's breaking (starting to hook). Then adjust by moving LEFT, RIGHT, FORWARD, or BACK. Don’t move more than a few boards at a time for each adjustment. Remember if you miss to the right, adjust by moving to the right. If you miss to the left, adjust by moving to the left. If you know you did things right, you could be dropping your shoulder. Move your bowling shoulder up a little at the stance and hold it that way through the release. It will eventually correct itself.
Spot check where you stand on the approach and look down at where you end up after you release the ball to insure walking up straight on the approach. A little wandering toward the target is normal but you don't want to end up more than 2 or 3 boards different. Wandering excessively can cause inconsistency.
Have you incorporated all or at least some of the exercises I suggested to stay strong and help with stamina so you can bowl well for all three games and not feel tired? Have you gotten that new ball you’ve been wanting? If you haven't gotten your own equipment, please try to do that as soon as possible. Consistency is the name of the game!!
I'll be doing some traveling the month of July and a bit in August, so join me back here in mid August when I'll be discussing "Washouts".
Good Luck and High Scoring!
There are about FOUR GENERAL OIL PATTERNS that will appear on the lanes and most of them are approximately 40 feet long.
2. CHRISTMAS TREE PATTERN- The Oil Machine applies the oil in the shape of a Christmas tree or triangular shape. It allows the lesser hooking bowler to play along the edge of the lane where there is less oil, letting the ball hook back nicely into the desired pocket area.The heaviest oil will be on boards 15-25. As the oil breaks down, try to make angle adjustments, meaning to adjust more boards at the stance and less at the target area. An example would be if you need to move to the left 3 boards, then only move your target 1 board left and the arrows. The pattern looks like this:
3. BLOCK OIL PATTERN-This one is also a simple pattern and the one most often used in bowling centers. The most concentration of oil is in the center part of the lane and less on the outer portion. This is also known as a “WALL”, where the wall of friction is on those outside boards. For a Hook bowler, this is usually a very high scoring pattern The ball needs to be placed where the oil is, angled to the edge where the friction increases (area with less oil), and then hook back into the pocket. This pattern can also be referred to as the “RED” pattern by the USBC.
4. REVERSE BLOCK OIL PATTERN- This is the opposite of the Block pattern. Here, most of the oil is concentrated on the outer boards with very little in the center. This is a difficult pattern for those of us that throw a hook since there is very little oil. The ball will hook a lot more and possible crossing over into the 1-2 pocket for a righty or the 1-3 pocket for the lefty. You would have to adjust by moving quite a bit left at the stance. If you throw a straight ball, you are in luck!
Remember to observe where the breakpoint is (where there is less oil), make small adjustments from there. The more you can practice these oil patterns, the quicker you will master them and in turn, the better your scores are going to be. There are lots of other oil patterns used mostly by professionals and in some amateur tournaments that I will be discussing later on in my blog.
Join me next week when we'll have a check point to see how you are doing so far! The fact that you have been reading my blog up to this point, shows me you really want to improve!!
Good Luck and High Scoring!
You throw your ball and it comes back on the ball return. You pick it up for your next shot and notice there’s a greasy circle all over it. You think to yourself, “ What is this stuff all over my ball”?
Years ago the lanes were made of wood, the first 15 feet was made of a hardwood like maple, to be able to withstand the impact of the ball coming onto the lane. The remaining 45 feet was made of a softer wood like pine which was less expensive. OIL was put on the lanes to protect this wood. Without the oil, your ball would spark and burn the lane from the friction!
During the 1940’s lanes were COATED with SHELLAC to protect the wood underneath from friction and impact of the ball. However, Shellac became more difficult to make during World War II, so they changed the dressing on the lane to Lacquer but this had a higher flammability, so they just decided to change the material the lanes were made of instead.
This lane OIL or Dressing placed on the lanes consists of about 95% MINERAL OIL and the remaining mixture is consisted of other solvents to help with ball friction and how far the oil gets pushed down the lane over a certain amount of games.
Even though today most lanes are not made of wood, oil is still put down mostly to challenge bowlers abilities by using specific OIL PATTERNS approved by the USBC (United States Bowling Congress). Oil also helps control how much the ball will hook. There are several different patterns that we will be discussing in some later blog posts.
Inside and outside TEMPERATURES can affect the oil and how your ball will react on the lane. I remember getting a really cold winter when I first began to bowl, and my scores were several pins down from what my normal average was. I was blaming it on the worker there who applied the oil to the lanes asking if he had put more down than usual. The guy in the pro shop told me they were putting down the same amount. I did a little bit of research and found out that it was this colder weather and the higher humidity we were getting with all the snow. My ball wasn’t hooking as much and was traveling down the lane farther before it started to hook.
The lane oil had become more congealed and the ball couldn’t begin it’s roll at the proper place as before. It was literally sliding on the oil causing me to get more splits than usual. The ball needed to be in it’s ROLLING PHASE when it hit the pins for the strike to carry.
So if the weather changes where you are, you need to pay a bit more attention to how the ball is going down the lane, and you also need to make more adjustments at the stance and where your is.
Normally your ball will start to hook into the 1-3 pocket (1-2 pocket for lefty’s) on the last 20 feet of the 60 foot lane, but if there’s a lot of oil or it’s congealed from colder temperatures, your ball will NOT be able to hook as much, but will SKID, so you must compensate for this by moving to the right at the stance.
Your ball picks up the oil and carries it down the lane (CARRY DOWN OIL) closer to the pins so after a game or two, your ball will start to hook later so you may need to move a little to the left.
The newer reactive resin bowling balls are made of URETHANE and tend to absorb a lot of this lane oil, I so it’s important to wipe your ball off every few frames to remove the oil. When the ball absorbs too much lane oil over time, it will NOT react the same. Try to clean your ball really well after about 12-15 games. They have ball cleaning products in the pro shop that you can use after your set of games is finished so your ball will be nice and clean before you bowl again. I would also sometimes SOAK mine in very hot tap water in the sink with “Dawn” liquid dish detergent for about 20-30 minutes and it cut through the grease really well. (I removed any hole tape beforehand). I was able to submerge the whole ball in the deep sink I had in my laundry room. If you have a small sink, just put in half at a time. By doing this, the ball will react when you first bought it for a longer period of time and you won’t have to buy a new one for awhile.
TIP: Most of the oil is to the CENTER of the lane. If you want your ball to hook a bit more, try standing to the right and aim between boards 1-5. Try this in your practice sessions to see what works best for you.
Please leave me any comments in the comments area, or any topics you'd like me to discuss here in my Blog. I have several we will be covering in the near future. I look forward to hearing from you.
Join me next week when I’ll be discussing some of the "Simple Oil Patterns" you will be encountering in league bowling.
Good luck and high scoring!!
Here are a few more basics that you need to know in order to keep improving your game. Practice these one at a time during your practice sessions and begin to incorporate them into every game. The more games you bowl, the more these principals will become automatic and you won’t have to think about them.
8. TIMING is #1 in Bowling so try to COUNT YOUR STEPS as you are walking on the approach so you get a nice rhythm and you do the same thing each time. When I don’t count, I find that my timing does get off and I end up going a little too fast, or too slow. Your consistency changes if your speed keeps changing.
9. LOFT TO THE SAME AREA ON THE LANE- You need to really REACH OUT and LOFT the ball about 2 feet out onto the lane after the release. DO NOT drop it right at the foul line. If you throw a large hook, it will probably end up in the channel by the time it would have reached the pins. To practice this, you can place a small towel on the lane a few feet from the foul line and keep practicing to land your ball smoothly onto the towel.
10. LAND YOUR BALL SMOOTHLY onto the lane, not into it hard or you’ll lose striking power by the time the ball does hit the pins.
11. Keep your EMOTIONS IN CHECK! This means if you miss a spare or a needed strike, try not to lose your cool and get angry. I used to do this all the time when I first started bowling and ended up doing poorly because I let my anger get the best of me. I would stay focused on what I did wrong rather than what I needed to correct for the next frame. Remember to take each frame separately. If you had a bad shot, just try to figure out what you did wrong before it’s your next turn so you won’t have a repeat of what you just did, and just move on. Don’t dwell on past frames since you can’t re-do them. Take a few deep breaths to help you stay calm and focused!
12. Getting a GOOD LIFT on the ball is really important. Try to keep your middle fingers a little stiff so they stay in a slightly bent position. If you can, try and touch the back of your right shoulder (Left shoulder for left handed bowlers) each time after you release the ball which will also insure a good LIFT. Good lift also put more revolutions on the ball which equals more action down at the pins.
13. TRUST IS A MUST OR YOUR GAME IS A BUST! What this means is to trust your ball to hook back into the pocket area, as long as you got it over your correct target. You don’t need to force it or do anything fancy with the ball. DON’T try to AIM it , just do the normal 10:00 or 11:00 release and give the ball a chance to work.
14. THINK BEFORE YOU GET UP ON THE APPROACH- Once you know where you are going to stand and where your target should be, then step onto the approach and just “FEEL” the shot.
Some of these basics are easier said than done, but you need to stay focused and in control to be successful in bowling. Only you can control your game, so learning these things early on will help you to improve more quickly.
Join me here next week for a discussion about “Lane Oil”.
Good Luck and High Scoring this week!