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!