Bowling is a game of “Consistency”. The more consistent you release the ball correctly, the more you stand on the correct board, and the more you release the ball correctly and get it over the correct target every time, will always add up to higher and more consistent scores! Using the same equipment every week will also help you achieve this consistency and will help you get to that desired 200 average! If you are using an alley ball right now, it has probably been difficult for you to locate that same ball every week. The best thing to do is buy these products online or visit your local pro shop (located in most bowling centers) and get the equipment you will need to get you to that next level. The pro shop is great because he/she can answer any questions you may have about any of the products listed below.
The pro will drill the finger and thumb holes to a custom fit. Sometimes the cost of the drilling is included in the price of a ball. If possible, it’s best to get a new ball several weeks before you begin a league so you will have some time to practice with it. Let the pro know if you throw a hook or not. If you don’t, you may want to learn how to throw a hook and can get a lesson or two from this professional so he/she can see the type of “Bowling Style” you have and recommend the proper ball for you (we will discuss bowling styles later on in the blog). Bowling balls vary in price, and I live by the saying “You buy cheap, you buy twice”, so I recommend getting a good ball right from the start. I will be discussing bowling balls in detail in next week's blog.
If your fingers are strong, I recommend getting a finger-tip-grip- drilled. This allows your fingers to be inserted only up to the first joint but will allow you to get more “Lift” on the ball when releasing it (we will discuss lift at a later time). You can also purchase a see-saw-towel so you can clean your ball and store it inside of it in your bowling bag.
2. Once you have the ball, next you need a good pair of “BOWLING SHOES”. They have so many nicer styles nowadays than when I first started to bowl. Some look like sneakers and are just as comfy. Sometimes i’ve seen kids trying to bowl in socks, but the lane has “Oil” on it and you could fall and get hurt, so get yourself a good pair of these special bowling shoes since you will be using them every week and for at least 2-3 hours in a bowling league. Bowling shoes have a special sole on them that allow you to slide as you release the ball to help the ball land smoothly onto the lane. Try NOT to step in any wetness while wearing them or you will stick on the lane and might go over the foul line. (If renting shoes at the bowling center, make sure you wear socks since thousands of people have worn them before you.) Shoe rental prices at bowling centers can range from $3-$4 every week, so it makes more "cents" to buy a $40 pair of shoes that only you will be wearing and after 10 weeks, they will have paid for themselves. Leagues are about 36 weeks in winter seasons and about 12 weeks in summer leagues.
3. SHOE COVERS:
These have elastic around them so you can slip them easily over your bowling then if you need to use the restroom, you won’t step in any water.
4. WRIST SUPPORT:
A wrist supporter helps the wrist to stay strong and not to “Break” or bend down when you deliver the ball onto the lane since the ball is heavy. There are several different kinds to choose from. I have always used the “Mongoose” which has a piece of metal in it for a stronger wrist support, while allowing me to be able to shift my hand in different positions for the release. Some can restrict movement of the wrist, so ask the pro at the shop to recommend a good one for you.
5. BOWLING BALL TAPE:
After you purchase a ball, the pro will drill the finger and thumb holes for you but like to drill them a tad larger which allows for occasional finger swelling. I like to use the tape so I can get just the perfect fit each time I bowl.
I use the “White Gripping Tape” in the thumb hole to help me get a more snug fit and a better grip on the ball. Just don’t make it too snug, some days you might need a few pieces and some you may not need any. To apply the tape, have a small pocket KNIFE in your bag to help you get it into the hole easier and insert with the straight side facing down toward the bottom of the hole and on the side that the inside of your thumb will be facing (so you can feel the tape as you are releasing the ball). They also sell a thinner black tape that you can use on the opposite side of the white tape so you can get the grip that feels just right for you by combining both.
6. EASY SLIDE:
In my bowling bag I keep this product on hand so if the bottom of my bowling shoes should get a little wetness on them, I can dry them with a towel and then pat the area lightly with the easy slide on the sliding shoe (left shoe if you are a right handed bowler and the right shoe if you are a lefty). If you put too much on, you may slide over the foul line.
7. ROSIN BAG:
I also recommend getting a Rosin Bag. This will help your fingers and hand to stay dry so you will be able to hold onto the ball until you are ready to deliver it onto the lane. Just hold it in your bowling hand for a few seconds to help whisk moisture away before you insert your fingers into the ball.
8. DEFENSE SKIN PROTECTOR:
Formerly called “Nu-Skin”, is a must have in your bowling bag. If you get a cut or sore on one of your bowling fingers, you can put one of the little patches on over the area with the liquid provided, . It dries very quickly and you will be able to bowl as if there was a new piece of skin on your finger because it will no longer hurt.! The patches are super thin, allowing your fingers to still fit properly into the holes in the bowling ball.
9. It is also important to have a small BOWLING TOWEL or microfiber towel in your bag to keep your hands and fingers dry. The bowling centers do provide little blowers (fans) near the ball return on each pair of lanes for this purpose, but you can use the towel. to wipe your ball off of lane oil and debris after a few shots too.
10. Bowling Ball Cleaner: Sometimes you get debris on the bowling ball that a towel just can't remove. I recommend soaking your ball in a sink with hot water and adding "Dawn liquid detergent". Let it soak for 20-30 minutes to get some of the oil out of the ball that it absorbs from the lane. That can help get some of the oil off the ball. You can also purchase special liquid cleaners at the pro shop called "Monster Tac", "Tac Up", or "Reacta Shine". You can spray these products onto a paper towel or a small regular towel and wipe the ball thoroughly. Clean your bowling ball before you bowl, you are not allowed to once the competition begins according to the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) rules. You can also clean it with a mixture of equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol or just use some windex and a towel or paper towel.
11. Lastly, you will need a BOWLING BAG to keep all of your equipment in. They sell them online or in the pro shop and can accommodate from 1-6 bowling balls! I use a 3 ball carrier to take back and forth with me to the lanes. If you are lucky enough, they do rent lockers that provide only enough space for a few bowling balls, or a 1 ball carrier. You can leave the heavy ball in it and just take you bag with your other things back and forth with you.
I also recommend getting a small spiral notebook that you can keep in your bag. You can take notes as you learn more in your practice sessions and refer to them on league days when needed. Read your notes often, especially when learning new things.
Good Luck & High Scoring!!
Join me next week when I’ll be discussing bowling balls in detail.
There are splits that are labeled “Baby Splits. They are small splits where the pins have a space the size of a bowling balls’ diameter, so you can make them by aiming the ball right in between the pins. These include the 2-7, and 3-10 pins. Notice with the 2-7 baby split, that the area where the space is, is where the 4 pin is located. The trick is to stand where you would to convert the 4 pin and throw over the same target. I have seen bowlers clip the right side of the 2 pin which hit into the 7 pin and converted the split that way, but it’s best to try to aim in between the 2 and 7 pins.
The same principal works for the 3-10 baby split. You need to aim for the 6 pin which is where the space is between the 3 and 10 pins.
There are several other splits you could wind up with on a poor executed shot or just due to poor lane conditions (which we will discuss at a later time). Two of these splits are the 5-7 and the 5-10. By now you know where to stand for the 5 pin (king pin). For the 5-7 split, you would need to hit the 5 pin on it’s right side to be able to slide it over into the 7 pin. Remember if you move to the left, your ball will go more to the right. So just move a board or two to the left at the stance and you can use the same target. The opposite goes for the 5-10 split where you need to hit the 5 pin on its left side to slide it over into the 10 pin. You will need to move a board or two to the right from where you would normally stand to hit the 5 pin.
There are other splits I haven’t discussed that you could end up with, but you get the idea on how to make them now. Whenever you are trying to convert a split, especially if you were having a good game, don’t FREAK OUT!!! You can make them as long as you stay calm and keep practicing when you can. Bowling is a game of “Consistency”. The more you convert these splits, the more confidence you will have in making them under pressure when it really counts, in the league or in a bowling tournament.
The best thing is to try to avoid getting them in the first place. Stay focused and always execute a good shot-releasing the ball smoothly out onto the lane and getting it over the correct target!
Join me next week when I’ll be discussing “Equipment”.
Good luck this week and high scoring!!
A split is when there is a space, or spaces in between pins that are left on the pin deck after you’ve thrown your first ball but didn’t make the strike. When you get a split but don’t convert it, the only way to make up for that open frame is to get a “Double” which is two strikes in a row! Let’s discuss how to convert splits and how to best avoid them.
The 7-10 split is the most difficult to convert because the pins are so far apart. One way to make it is to throw the ball hard at the left side of the 7 pin or try to hit the right side of the 10 pin and hope flies over into the other pin. It’s a pure luck shot and I saw the pro bowler, Mark Roth, make it on TV many, many years ago. He hit the 10 pin and it hit into the back wall and came flying out to get 7 other pin. It was the first time that split was ever converted on television and was so exciting to watch! Another fellow to make the 7-10 split was a fellow, Andy Varipappas who threw two balls at the same time, crossing each other to make the 10 pin and 7 pin. It would be cool to convert it this one, but you’re only allowed to throw one ball in league play.
Knowing where to stand for your 7 pin, move to the right 2-3 boards to hit the left side of the 7 pin, or if you want to hit the 10 pin on the right side, move 2-3 boards to the left of where you normally would stand for the 10 pin. Lefty’s do the opposite.
Some reasons for winding up with a split are:
Bowling is a lot like playing a game of pool. It’s all about angles. If you hit the headpin straight on, you might wind up with the 4-6-7-10 split
(Called the “Greek Church”, or “Grandmas’ Teeth”) or the 4-6 split. To make either of these splits, you must hit the very right side of the 6 pin and hope to slide it over into the 4 pin or hit the left side of the 4 pin to hit into the 6 pin. Stand 2-3 boards more to the left from where you normally would for the 6 pin because moving more to the left will make you ball go more to the right.
There are several other splits you can wind up with on a bad shot, or just due to poor lane conditions. For example, the 5-7 split, you need to hit the 5 pin on the right side to slide it over into the 7 pin. Therefore, you need to stand a few boards to the left of where you would normally stand to convert the 5 pin. The opposite will happen for the 5-10 split. This time you need to hit the 5 pin on the left side, so try standing 2 boards to the right of where you normally stand for the 5 pin it should slide over nicely hitting the 10 pin.
The 7-8 split and the 9-10 split are just a ball’s distance apart so your ball will be able to fit right in between the two pins, but you must hit it just right. Notice the 4 pins location is the pin in front of the space between the 7-8 split. So stand where you normally would to make the 4 pin, but move a board or two to the left of that to allow for the angle your ball will be coming in at. The 6 pin is the pin would be located where the space id for the 9-10 split. So stand where you would to get the 6 pin, but move a board or two to the left, again to allow for the angle the ball will be coming in at.
Join me next week for Part 2 on “How to Make Splits”.
Good luck and high scoring!!
CLUSTER SPARES: Are spares that have 3 or more pins close together.
The “KEY” or Target pin is the one you must hit in order to convert a spare successfully. If you concentrate on that one pin, you can almost ignore the other pins and still make the spare. For the more difficult spares which have a cluster of pins together, you need to focus on the KEY PIN. For example, if you are facing the 3-5-6-9 “BUCKET” spare you will need to look at and concentrate on the very back pin which is the 9 pin. If you can do that, then your four pin spare becomes an easier one pin spare! If you leave the 2-4-5-8 Bucket, then your KEY pin to focus on would be that back pin again, or the 8 pin.
If you are faced with other difficult 3 or 4 pin spares, you’ll need to figure out which is the KEY or TARGET PIN to aim for in order to successfully convert the spare. If you have four pins in a row, for example the 1-3-6-10 spare, your KEY pin to aim for will be the one CLOSEST to you. Therefore, you need to hit the 1 pin but on it’s right side, so the ball will hit into half of the 1 pin and half of the 3 pin. The 3 pin will hit into the 6, and the 6 pin hit into the 10 pin. If you leave the opposite of that spare, the 1-2-4-7 spare, the KEY pin would also be the 1 pin, but you’ll need to hit it on the left side.
If you have a two-pin spare, aim for the pin that’s CLOSEST to you. If you’re faced with the 5-9 spare for example, aim for the 5 pin. Hit it slightly to the right, since the 9 pin is to the right of the 5 pin, or if you have a cluster of three pins like the 2-4-5 or the 3-5-6, just aim for the pin closest to you.
Focusing on this “KEY” pin will help you avoid the stress of going for those more difficult spares. Try this method during your practice sessions and remember those KEY pins in each of these difficult spares. Make slight adjustments remembering to only move a board at a time to the left or right to suit the size of your hook.
Join me next week to discuss "Splits". See you then.
Hello!! I'm not a professional bowler, but I have loved the sport for more than 45 years, averaged over 200 for several seasons, and learned quite a bit with research and experience.