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The Right Approach...Views on the world of bowling.

Volume 2, Issue 24, The 76th Edition

By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez

      This week, I figured I would actually offer some of my tips. I doubt you'll ever hear these tips in a camp you pay good money for, but since the price is right, I figure if you can use them, enjoy. If not, don't lose sleep over it.

      I'm going to take the point of view that anything a bowler does to convert a few more spares is good. Remember, if a bowler manages to convert one more spare a game, that's roughly a ten-pin increase in average--without a new ball, without tons of practice, without changing a single other thing. My only 700 series came during my only clean series ever. When the strikes won't come, sometimes a 190 or less will win. And it's a proven fact that a bowler can shoot 190 without ever getting a strike (for those mathematically challenged bowlers, that's 9/ for ten frames). Sure, stringing strikes looks pretty, but spares will often be enough to win the game.

      Corner pins are truly most people's nightmare. After thirteen years of bowling, I'm still sweating when I leave a 10 pin, even though I've finally gotten the hang of them most of the time. When I am working with the kids or I see someone missing 10 pins just during the last few feet of the lane, I always suggest they reach for the reflection of the pin on the lane. It's not truly pin bowling, since that reflection stretches a few feet back on the lane. But it is farther down than the arrows, and it seems to help them resist the urge to hook at it. And again, anything that works to convert spares is a GOOD thing.

      And speaking of corner pins, there is the perennial topic of spare balls. So often you hear something about whether to use a spare ball or not, I wonder if people are arguing to hear themselves talk or if they are actually arguing for the sake of the bowler. Sure, there is merit in learning how to throw any ball dead straight by flattening out or even breaking the wrist. I do this 95% of the time, because the feel of the ball stays the same. And if we're talking about practice, that's a good thing to practice. But what works in league play isn't always "pretty." What I strive for in league is practical. If a spare ball makes aiming at corners easier, so be it. With the hook monsters out today, lanes with significant backends can react strongly, even when a player does what they are supposed to. Since I bowl with older ladies and often coach children, their ball speed comes into consideration as well.

      And I've got another trick for folks who leave splits. I am one of those people who "goes for it" when I leave a split. I'll err on the side of making some pins rather than none, but there's never a time where I see a 6-7-10 that I don't actually try for it. But splits are intimidating. There's often only one way to convert them, and sometimes, even when done correctly, I still miss. When I'm working with the kids or some of the elderly ladies I bowl with, instead of trying to explain how to convert the split, I break the split down to the simplest one pin spare I can think of. If they leave a 4-9, I'll tell them to go after it as if it were a 7 pin. It's all about attitude. I know I can get a 7 pin, and so can the bowlers on my team. Since so much of converting a split is luck AFTER they put the ball where it belongs, getting the ball there is the controllable part of the battle. If they get it there, then they have a chance. It works on everything but 7-10s, and for those, it really is a matter of luck.

      I am a firm believer in making my practice "pretty," but when I get to league, I don't question things, I just do what will work. I'll admit I'm lazy. Since I'm anchor, I want the best chance possible to win the game. If helping someone else on my team mark helps get me within "striking" distance of winning a game, I will help them do it by encouraging them.

Gotta Split,


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