Tom Blasco's Expert Bowling Tips
Hot Tips for Senior Bowlers (part 2)09/27/2005 - By Tom Blasco
This is part two of a two part article. Part one can be found here.
7. USE OF BACK OR KNEE SUPPORTS: Physical ailments or handicaps can be faced and overcome. The inability to bend normally at the foul line during the release is common. Don't be overly concerned. You will probably require a little more concentration to overcome the lack of a knee bend. You may even try a little more bend from the waist, when in your stance, but stance only, not during your entire approach. Just remember to keep your arm swing straight and swing toward the target. Your natural tendency will probably be to pull the ball and turn your body when your knees are bent. By all means try to keep your body straight when you arrive at the foul line. You can still enjoy the sport. While basic fundamentals such as deep keep bend and back bend may be difficult, there are adjustments which can help you.
8. USE OF OPEN HAND/SPREAD FOREFINGER AND/OR PINKIE FINGER: For many years, a majority of now senior bowlers, were introduced to bowling grips like the closed "shaking hands" or "suit case." This was and is unfortunate, but who's to blame, we didn't know any better.
Since the hand has but four grips, only two are major. The strongest is the buttress grip, often used to open a stubborn jar lid, the other is the hook grip, it is often called the suit case grip. Not only is it a minor grip, it is also a weaker grip. The "shaking hands" grip and release is utilizing the weaker hook grip. It also contributes to pinching the ball; excessive muscle tension in the forearm, and a broken wrist.
However, opening the hand somewhat by spreading the forefinger and sometimes the pinkie finger is, in fact, changing the grip to compromise between the hook and the much stronger buttress grip. You would appreciably strengthen your grip and release by adopting this compromise.
9. EXERCISE: Being prepared physically to bowl is as important as rolling the bowling ball. A few stretching exercises will aid you in loosening the joints, muscles, and the stretching of tendons and ligaments. Although you may not become a muscle builder or a great sports figure, it will have an impact on your overall performance, and may even prevent an unwanted injury.
10. TARGETING: Learn to roll the ball toward the 1-3 pocket (1-2 for left handers). If your eye sight has not gone bad, see if you can develop a method of target (spot) bowling. It's much easier to hit a target 7 or 15 feet away than the pins, 60 feet away (head pin). Also, using your eyes to adjust the hook of your ball can also be an option. Looking closer could help with making the ball react sooner, just as looking farther down the lane could help with controlling the hook on the back end of the lane.
11. LANE ADJUSTMENTS: Adjustments to lane conditions are important to all bowlers. To seniors they are especially essential because most bowlers (seniors) roll the ball more slowly. This slowness causes the ball to hook away from the strike pocket. The standard adjustment is to follow the ball; if it hooks left -- you move left; if it stays right -- you move right and deliver the ball over the same target. If the ball continues to hook left, it is literally telling you to move left and move your target left so you can find enough conditioner (oil) to hold the ball going into the pocket. Another method of making an adjustment for the ball hooking is to rotate (or open) your bowling shoulder and walk back towards your target no matter where you are standing.
If you take your normal stance, walk a straight line and swing straight the ball goes too far left, the next time you bowl, turn your bowling shoulder more to the right. This is somewhat easier than trying to zero in on a specific target (arrow or board), and use the conventional targeting methods for shooting spares. Your objective should be to keep the ball in the general area around the head pin and maximize your first ball pin count. Since your rhythm and coordination aren't what they used to be, staying in the head pin area will give you the best results leaving you with easier spare shots. Spare shots that you will begin to see more frequently, which will become easier to make, resulting in a higher score. By pointing the bowling shoulder more to the right or left, depending on the previous strike shot. The important thing is to think about your adjustments as a simple movement and not worry about hitting specific spots on the lane. You should attempt to start your approach somewhere in the center of the lane and roll your ball around the second arrow. Now make your shoulder adjustments until you are pretty well zeroed in on the head pin or pocket.
Now that you've found your starting point and can walk fairly straight and release the ball fairly straight, spare shooting will become much easier.
However, many seniors are still learning how to become proficient spare shooters by using the proven scientific spare system, i.e., 3-6-9 or 4-8-11 depending upon how much ball they throw and how much hook is available from the lanes.
12. GOOD BOWLER, OUTSTANDING ABILITY, BUT GETTING OLDER: The older you become, past a certain point, you should consider the lightening of the ball. Consider a pound, for sure, and maybe two if previous physical ailments are hindering your performance, but keep the same type of grip, if you can still handle it. You might sacrifice a little hitting power when in the pocket, but if your accuracy improves and you maintain control of the ball, that should make up the difference. Look at your last game scores, if they tend to drop you may be tiring and need less weight.
Remember, on thing. All the basics you previously learned about bowling won't always be successful and won't apply to today's environment. With age comes reduced stamina and strength, change in skin texture and many other factors, not to the point where you can't still enjoy bowling. You should be seeking enjoyment and companionship for the game. Don't let physical ailments deter your enthusiasm. Go out and bowl the way it is most fun for YOU.