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George Freeman's Expert Bowling Tips

-Bowling On The Sport Condition
03/19/2002 - By George Freeman - Updated 2/19/2012
      With the advent of Sport Leagues and Sport Conditions, bowlers that want a greater challenge are able to get just that, as long as there is a sport center near them. Even if there isn't, many tournaments are adopting sport conditions for certain higher end competitions. Much has been written and talked about in the short time the sport program has been available to the mass public, so here are some things to remember about the sport condition.

      For one, understand that there is no one "Sport Condition". The sport program is a different set of criteria that must be adhered to for a particular pattern to be deemed "sport compliant". To oversimplify, a sport condition is a pattern that has a 3.1:1 2:1 ratio of oil or less. Meaning the oil in the middle of the lane cannot be more than double the oil applied to the outer edges of the lane. So you could have many different types of oil patterns that could be classified as sport compliant. For this reason, it would be impossible for me to say, "Here is how you play the sport condition".

      I will say that to be effective on a sport condition, you need to be able to repeat the same shot over and over during the course of your league night. Since there is a much smaller margin of error for mistakes, you need to be able to minimize those mistakes. When you go into practice, try to hit the same target as many times as you can. Don't worry about where the ball goes on the lane, just worry about being able to hit your target. Unless you have the opportunity to practice on a sport condition, it really won't matter where the ball goes anyway, so just work on throwing it the same way over and over.

      Also, when you bowl in a sport league or a tournament with the sport conditions on the lane, go in with the understanding that you probably aren't going to average 260. You're going to make mistakes, and some of those mistakes are going to be costly. Many times the difference between the winner and the runner up is how the player responds to a mistake. If you throw a bad shot and you get stung, recognize it for what it is, a bad shot, and move on. The sooner you can do that, the sooner you can get back on track to throwing good shots, because your brain won't be preoccupied with the bad shot you threw 5 frames ago. The player that makes the fewest mistakes in a situation like that more than likely will be the more successful.

      Finally, keep the ball in play. Spares are a premium on a sport condition. When you go into practice, make sure to practice making spares. Even on full racks, practice going for corner pins, or throwing the ball straight at spares when you need to. Remember that score doesn't count in practice. Also, play within your own abilities. If you aren't practiced at playing 5th arrow on your normal league, chances are you aren't going to be able to do it on a sport pattern either. There is a time to work on something like that, and in the middle of competition is not the place to do it. That's what practice is for.

      The sport condition is still fairly new, so learning all you can about it will give you a chance to understand it. Knowledge is power, especially in the sport of bowling.

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