As you know by now, every bowler that wants to improve NEEDS to go practicing at least once a week and should also be in a league that meets once a week. I know sometimes you can be too busy and can't always get to the lanes for a practice session, but if you are experiencing a slump, or are having problems with a few of the basics, or you want to get to that next level, you REALLY need to do your best to get that practice session in!
When I'm on my way to the lanes for practice, I think about the past week and how I did in my league play. If I had any specific issues, I will use a game or two in my practice games to work on that. If I did pretty well, then I will practice some of the basics that I have mentioned in several of my past blog posts. But I always try to have something specific in mind, otherwise I'll just be competing with the people bowling next to me, which is ok, but I don't really think you'll be improving on your own game.
Some of the things I like to do that you may want to include in your practice sessions are the following:
1. Learning Angles--
Stand on the 15th board as your starting point. Practice getting the ball out over the 1st or 2nd arrow to get a strike. After you get a strike, move to the left 5 boards with your feet and try getting another strike keeping the 2nd arrow as your target. Do it again and you will see how the ball deflects a bit more after it hits the pins. You may even leave a 5 pin because of the increased angle you are coming in at. To make up for the deflection, you will need to move to the right a few boards to carry the strike. Keep experimenting until you get a strike in the 1-3 pocket (move left for the 1-2 pocket if you are a left handed bowler). Now try moving to the left another 5 boards and see what happens. Since the angle is even larger, you might need to change your target to the 3rd arrow instead of using the 2nd arrow. Now try getting a strike by moving another 5 boards to the left until you are on the 35th board. Chances are that your target may have to be the 4th or the 5th arrow (counting from right to left for the righty's).
This practice exercise really helped me in learning angles and it showed that some angles are just too large and not effective without moving your target to the left as your feet move left. It's like doing a dance on the lane. Sometimes after moving left, the carry down oil changes the lane and you'll need to move back to the right side of the approach again.
2. Feeling the weight of the ball on the inside knuckles--
As I am holding the ball on the approach, I like to feel the weight of it on the inside knuckles of my pointer and middle fingers. Then on the release, I turn my hand and use my pointer finger like a gun and aim it right at my target. Make sure to fix your eyes on the target and don't look at the pins until the ball passes it to make sure you did in fact get it over your mark!
3. Sometimes when I'm getting splits, I realize that my bowling elbow is going out to the side for some reason. Practice making sure your arm and elbow stay close to the body throughout the pendulum swing, and that your elbow finishes up close to the head after the lift and release.
4. Practicing good rhythm is very important. I like to count my steps as I walk making sure I count the same each time and not too fast or slow. If your timing is off, it can throw off your whole game!
5. ALWAYS practice getting a good first ball! If you get it over your mark every time and your release is good, you should always have a strike or at least a 9 count which means you will get the best pin count on a spare and you'll have an easy spare to convert if you don't get a strike, which will add up to a great score!
6. Practice FINISHING IN A MORE UPRIGHT POSITION--
Getting a little more bend in the knee makes it easier on the back and it actually helps to be more steady at the foul line after the ball has been released. It also keeps your shoulders more square to the foul line and helps the ball to finish up stronger on the back end.
Don't forget to bring your notebook and write things down so you can review practice sessions from time to time. Remember to be patient with yourself and only learn a few things at a time. As you know by now, Consistency is key!! You're there to practice so don't worry about people around you and especially don't worry about your score!!
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Join me again in TWO WEEKS when I'll be discussing some of the terms used in Bowling! Have a fun and safe Labor Day week end everyone! See you then!
Good Luck and High Scoring!
What is Duckpin Bowling?
A Duckpin Bowling Game is just another variation of the regular Ten Pin Bowling game we are all familiar with. It was invented in Baltimore, Maryland back in the early 1900's in a bowling, billiards and pool hall which was owned by John McGraw and William Robinson who were two baseball Hall of Famers from the Baltimore Orioles team.This sport is still very popular in Ireland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Indiana, and Washington D.C. Duckpins was also a favorite game of the famous baseball player, Babe Ruth.
The pins are 10" high and about 2/3 the size of the pins used in regular Ten Pin Bowling, and the ball has no holes and is only 4 3/4" in diameter and weighs between two and four pounds.
Similar to Candlepin Bowling (mentioned in last weeks Blog Post), you get three tries to knock down all ten pins. If you get all the pins down on the first try, it is called a "Strike" which is marked by the letter "Y". You add whatever you get down on the next two balls with that strike like in Ten Pin Bowling. In the image below, you can see that there were strikes in the 4th, 7th, and 8th frame.
If you knock down all ten pins using two tries, it is called a "Spare". A spare is marked by a slash like in regular bowling " / ". You can see that there was a spare in the 5th frame down below. The slash can be marked in the small box or in the large box as shown. On a spare, you add what you knock down on the next ball. If you get down all ten pins after the three allowed tries, you will just get a total of 10 points for that frame.
A 300 is the highest possible score you can get in Duckpins and the current record is held by Pete Signore from Connecticut when he bowled a 279 in 1992.
There us a reset button near the ball return which you need to press after the three tries to reset the pins.There is also a pedal to step on the floor to clear any deadwood (pins that have fallen but remain on the pindeck) because deadwood cannot be used to help knock down other pins.
Based on the above paragraph, see if you can understand how the game was scored below.
Another version of the Duckpin Bowling was invented by William Wuerthele in Pittsburgh, Pa to increase the action and the scoring of the game. He placed a hard band made from rubber around each pin, and so the "American Duckpin Congress" was formed in the 1920's to govern the game. Later in 1945, the name was changed to the "American Rubber Band Duckpin Bowling Congress" and is affiliated with the "National Duckpin Bowling Congress". If you type in Duckpin Bowling into Google, they will give you names of places where you can give this sport a try. I tried it once and it was pretty challenging indeed. If you are ever visiting Ireland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Indiana, or Washington D.C, please give it a try. Who knows, maybe you could tie or break the current record!
Join me here next week when I'll be discussing "What Can I Practice in Bowling?-Part 2
Good Luck and High Scoring!!
What is Candlepin Bowling?
Candlepin Bowling is another type of bowling that you should try. It is very similar to the Ten Pin Bowling we are familiar with today and was started by a man named Justin White in Worcester Massachusetts back in 1881. It is still a very popular sport in California, the New England area, Canada, and Germany.
The main difference between Candlepin bowling and regular ten pin bowling, is that you get three tries to knock down all ten pins as opposed to two since the ball is much smaller, only 4 1/2" in diameter. The ball also has no holes in it for your fingers and the pins are much thinner, weighing about 2 lbs. 7 oz. each and 15 3/4" high.
When you knock these candlepins down on your first try, they are NOT cleared off the rack like in regular ten pin bowling. They remain on the lane to help you in knocking down the rest of the pins on the next two tries.
Candlepin bowling lanes have three sets of foul lines as opposed to the one in ten pin bowling. The first line divides the approach from the lane. The second is ten feet from that in the direction towards the pins which is called the "Lob Line". Your ball must come in contact with the lane before it comes to the Lob Line. If it hits the lob line or goes past it, then it's considered a "LOB" and if you knocked down any pins they will not be counted. The third foul line is 24" forward of the headpin and is called the "Deadwood Line". Any pins that have fallen in this area can't be played legally and are not counted in the scoring. These pins won't be re-set which can be to your advantage in helping you to knock down the remaining pins down.
A game of Candlepins is called a "String" and each string has ten boxes or frames. If you get all the pins down on the first try, it is called a "Strike". You will add what you throw on the next two balls just as in ten pin bowling. If you get all ten pins down after two tries, it is called a "Spare" and you'll add whatever pins you knock down on the next ball to that. If you take all three tries to get down all ten pins, that is called a "Ten Box" which is marked by an "X".
A Foul happens if a ball is thrown into the gutter, a bowler goes over the first foul line, or a ball lands on the lane passed the Lob line (second foul line). Fouls are always scored as a Zero-"0" and the pins will be re-set.
The scoring is done automatically nowadays but some of the Candlepins lanes are semi-automated and the bowler has to enter in the pin count and the machine will just add it up. Players can use a vertical sheet and add the totals from all the boxes to determine the score. The most points a frame can have is 30 like regular ten pin bowling. Here is a sample scoring below:
The right side of the sheet indicates the total scoring. The left side shows what the bowler did. So the "X" means that the player got all ten pins down in the three tries allowed. The fourth box down on the left shows a spare, meaning all ten pins were knocked down in two tries, and on the next ball he/she got a 9 count. So you would add the 9 + 10 to the 25 giving a total of 44 in the fourth box or frame. A strike was achieved in the sixth box (all ten pins were knocked down on one try) so on the next two balls another strike and a six count was gotten. So you add 16 + 10 for the strike to the 54 which equals 80 and so on as you can see. The final score was a 133 which is a fair score for Candlepins.
The highest score recorded to date is a 245 out of a possible 300. It was done in 1984 by Ralph Semb who is the head of the International Candlepin Bowling Association (ICBA). Then in 2011 his record was tied with a fellow named Chris Sargent in Massachusetts.
This is a fun and challenging game and if you are ever in a part of the country that has a Candlepin Center, please give it a try!! You may find another sport you love!
Join me back here again next week when I'll be discussing one other bowling game to try, "Duckpin Bowling".
Good Luck and High Scoring!!
If you're a new bowler, you may not have encountered any of these mechanical problems that can happen while you are bowling. If you've been bowling for awhile, then you have come across some of these that can be a real distraction. I feel they are worth mentioning so you will know how to deal with them for when and if they happen, they won't distract you and you can get back to focusing on your game.
1. Ball Getting Stuck in the Gutter (channel):
This usually doesn't happen during league time because people bowl somewhat decent and can throw the ball with enough force to make it go all the way down the lane and off the pin deck. But let's say you are bowling with your kids on a week end. Many young children just can't throw the ball very hard, and these lightweight balls don't end up going all the way down the lane and occasionally will get stuck in the channel. If it is close enough to the foul line, you can try to retrieve it yourself, but if you have to step onto the lane then, just go up to the front desk or buzz the intercom that contacts the person at the front desk, and ask them to have the mechanic help you. Just give them the lane number you are on and they should be able to help you within a few minutes. The oil is quite slippery on the lane and you could fall and possible get injured, so it's better to ask for help.
2. Pin Stuck in Gutter:
Some people just can't bowl when they see a pin in the channel because it can be a bit of a distraction. Again, go up to the front desk and give them the lane number you are on and they will have the guy remove it for you. If it's taking them too long to come over to your lane, then you or a team member can try to walk carefully on that area in between the lanes and try to get it yourself. Then you can just slide it all the way down the channel so the sweeper that clears the pins off the pin deck can get it out of the way. Or throw a ball in the gutter and let the ball take it all the way down the channel.
3. Ball Not Returning to the Rack:
Once in awhile a pin flys off the pin deck in such a way that it can get stuck in the area that the ball must pass through to be able to come back to the ball rack and blocks the ball from being able to return. If this happens, just inform the person at the desk. This has happened to me a few times over the years and to others. Sometimes your ball can get damaged from the machine, so when the ball comes back don't forget to check it over. If there are any chips that came out of the ball just let the proprietor know as soon as you can. Sometimes they will send you down to the pro shop and he can fill it in with some resin material and it should be fine.
4. Pins Falling Down from Pin Setter:
If this happens to you and it happened before you threw your first ball, just re-set the pins twice so it will be on the first ball when you go to bowl again. If it happened when you were going for your spare, then you will have to contact the front desk and let them know which pins were still standing so the mechanic can re-set those pins up for you. That's why it is important to know how the pins are numbered and if you didn't get a strike, know what spare is left up on the lane after you bowl. If the pins keep falling down, then the mechanic will have to fix the pin machine. Hopefully it will be a quick fix, but sometimes the bowling center may ask you to bowl on a different lane, or lanes if you are bowling in your league.
5. Pins are Not All Up There:
Get into the habit of making sure all TEN pins are up on the pin deck before bowling your first shot. If one pin is missing for example, it could interfere with you carrying the strike. If you throw your first ball and notice one or more pins is missing, it will be too late and you will have to accept what you get. You need to let a team member on yours and the opposing team know that a pin is missing before you bowl, and then just re-set the pins so you'll have a full rack.
6. Lane Break Down:
If the pins keep falling down, or the pinsetter isn't setting up all ten pins for a few frames, then you can request bowling on a different lane/s. This scenario does happen occasionally, even in the leagues. It can be extremely frustrating especially if you're on a roll and already have several strikes. When you must change lanes, they cannot set the score up from the other lanes you were on so you must start the game over again. They will give you practice time at least but the lanes may be totally different than the pair you were just bowling on. The thing is to NOT let it get you distracted! Just do your best to stay focused by keep your rhythm going, and making sure you are executing a good shot!
7. Slippery or Sticky Lane:
Sometimes you or a team mate may encounter something that makes you stick on the lane/s, or perhaps slide too much. The first thing to do is to check your shoes in case you stepped in some debris that carried onto the lane. You can go to the front desk and have the worker come over and wipe the approach area for you, especially if it's happening to several people. if it's something on your shoe, wipe it well with your towel and perhaps put a little "Easy Slide" onto the sliding shoe (check my blog post from 4/26/21 about the equipment you will need in bowling).
8. Sweep Accidentally Knocks Down Pins On Lane:
This is similar to #4 above. Make sure to familiarize yourself with how the pins are numbered on the lane so if it happens to you, you will be able to have the guys set up the correct pins that were up there. Again, use the intercom or go up to the front desk and give them the PIN numbers to set up and the lane number you are on. You can have a team member do this for you so you can immediately bowl as to not hold anyone up.
There may be a few others that you have encountered but I think I have covered most. Remember, most mechanical issues are usually a quick fix and just a temporary setback. Don't let it throw off your rhythm if you have to wait awhile for them to fix the lane. Just stay focused the best you can so you can keep bowling well. Don't let other people's complaining about it get to you!
Please review some of your notes you have been taking during your practice sessions and don't forget to do some of those bowling exercises I mentioned in my blog post from 5/17/21.
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Since it's summer and some of you take a break from regular ten pin bowling, join me back here next week when I shake things up a bit and introduce you to another type of bowling game you may want to try!
Good Luck and High Scoring
As previously discussed in prior blog posts, there is a Cranker style, Stroker, and Tweener style.
The last two styles a bowler may have, can fall in the category of either "Straight" or the "Back up Ball". I feel they are worth mentioning because I do see many a bowler with these styles and don't want anyone to feel left out.
4. The STRAIGHT ball goes in a straight line, just as the name implies. If you have trouble mastering wrist turning and getting "stuff" or lift on the ball, then you may want to develop this style. It is fairly simple to master and all you need to do is place all three fingers in the ball and let your hand stay in a "Flat" position at the stance, on the down swing, and then release the ball with NO wrist or arm turn. If a bowler starts in the center of the lane (20th board as you know) he would walk in a straight line with the shoulder finishing fairly square to the lane. The Straight ball is also the best for getting your spares because there is more accuracy in the Straight ball approach.
However because there is no hook at all on the ball, there will be more "Pin Deflection" and it will be a bit more difficult to get the strike. From my observance over the years, many bowlers with this style usually begin from the right side of the lane to help compensate for this deflection, and the squareness of the shoulders and hips will be in a line directly with the 1-3 pocket (1-2 for lefty's).
5. The BACK-UP style is when a bowler hooks the ball in the opposite direction of the norm. For example, when a right handed bowler throws a hook, it will hook toward the left into the 1-3 pocket. Bowlers who use this style begin and end the same way as the "Stroker" except will rotate the arm and bowling hand in the opposite direction and will use the 1-2 pocket instead of the 1-3 pocket. The ball hooks to the right.
After reading about these five different Bowling Styles, you can now place yourself into one of these categories. However, your BOWLING STYLE is still yours and unique because it's a combination of how high or low you choose to hold the ball, how you position your feet, the posture you have at the foul line, and what type of "stuff" you put on the ball. Some bowlers don't keep their knees bent the entire time they are walking along the approach for example, but can still have the Cranker Style.
My point is that you should pick a style that comes down to your own preference, comfort, and one that will get down the most pins as possible!
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I hope you have been practicing and doing those bowling exercises!!
Join me back here next week when I'll be discussing "Mechanical problems in bowling".
Good Luck and High Scoring!!
Hello!! My name is Joanie. Although I'm not a professional bowler, 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.