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George Freeman's Expert Bowling Tips

-Dealing With Luck
10/17/2001 - By George Freeman
      For those who watched the PBA telecast a couple of weeks ago, you got a good look at players dealing with luck, good and bad.  Chris Barnes and Mike Scroggins were bowling for the title in a close match.  Barnes threw a shot that went right through the beak (or head pin), and got a strike.  The next shot to clinch the title, he throws almost perfectly, but leaves the 6-7 split.  Fortune smiles, then betrays.  Mike Scroggins had a chance to clinch the title, throws a great shot, and leaves a 7 pin.  Barnes wins.

      That is what physically happened.  But what was going on in their heads?  The important thing for any serious bowler to keep in mind is that there is always an element of luck in bowling.  Sometimes the best thrown shots do not strike, sometimes your opponent is hitting everywhere but the pocket and knocking all the pins down, or breaking up splits that you are leaving.  When the chips seem stacked against you, how you deal with that internally many times affects how you approach your next shot.

      If you watch the telecast, you'll notice that many of the pros don't even watch their opponent bowling.  After all, this isn't football or tennis, where your actions directly affect your opponent's.  Bowling is a game of you against a lane and ten pins, and for many people, watching another bowler get lucky can disrupt their game.  So if you tend to get too wrapped up in what the other guy is doing, just don't watch.

      It's also important to keep a level head when your opponent gets unlucky.  When Barnes left the pocket split, it would have been very easy for Scroggins to let too psyched up, and let loose with an errant shot.  He was able to keep his emotions in check, and make a good shot.  He didn't get the win of course, but he put himself in a position to have the opportunity.  And in a game like bowling, sometimes that is all you can ask for.

      Both Barnes and Scroggins are first-rate competitors, and they proved it in just two frames worth of bowling at the end of the tournament.  It may not have been plainly evident, but we were watching bowling at its best.

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