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Rick Benoit's Expert Bowling Tips

Desirable Reaction

      This will be short since I have lots to do to get caught up for the last couple of weeks I have been away. It seems somebody told Kegel that they want variety and they listened. I appreciate the challenge, and think it is good for the sport. The days of thinking that bowling is only about execution are over--at the professional level anyway. There are many bowlers that can execute; the difference now is those that can adapt to the environment they are bowling in, and follow the transition. It is kind of like Major League Baseball, you better have more than one pitch if you expect to sit on the porch with the big dogs.

      I was not in Portland so I did not get to experience the conditions there. Here in Vegas we saw much more friction on the gutter than we have seen since the beginning of 1998. Even more surprising was the fact that it held up as long as it did. What the graph shows is that they have dramatically shortened the pattern on the gutter and use only buff to carry it to the midlane. There is still plenty of oil in the midlane and hold is not applied but can be created by matching tilt, revs, and angle.

      The change was exciting to see for a couple of reasons, the mental challenge for one, and the opportunity for other styles of bowlers to see what they like and give them an opportunity to compete. I still think that the best bowlers in the world are the ones that can compete on all conditions, but given the present structure of the PBA, we can appreciate different names and styles when a big enough change in the conditions are provided. This week provided the change and you still see the better bowlers making the Top 24, and you can also appreciate a couple names we haven't seen in a while.

      The area of the lane that most bowlers attacked this week was outside of five at their break point. The difference was the angle they used through the front part of the lane. Getting to the pocket was very simple this week, carry was another subject. The Showboat has a reputation of carry being the secret to success. Typically speaking, I have experienced that the bowlers who look for the so-called "desirable" ball reaction do not carry very well at the 'Boat. Desirable meaning a ball reaction that stores up energy through the front and middle and releases or accelerates through the back 15 feet and the pins. Using this type of reaction was a guaranteed 10-pin or 4-pin reaction this last week. The common denominator this week was having your reaction rev up early (mid lane) and arc. The more revs and tilt you used the more angle you needed through the front part of the lane. The softer hands could stay further right and that looked like the ticket early in the week.

      As the week went along, you would see the ball push through the front part of the lane much easier, and many bowlers lost their carry because their breakpoint was too far down the lane. This confused many bowlers and trapped many of them in the between zone that allowed them to get to the pocket only to be dissatisfied with their carry. As the week went along the lane did not give midlane reaction unless you matched up your angle through the front with the type of hand you used. The high-rev players who tried to move right and play where the soft-handed players were, had to use firm ball speed and that brought the early hook to the right in play and the hang down lane in play. They could play there, but they had to bowl better to compete because their carry was 20% worse. The right thing for the high-rev player to do was to move further left than they thought they need to and try to throw it at the gutter early. We saw more gutter balls this week than we have seen in the last year because of this. The softer-handed players did not have to use as much angle through the front and could attack the dry from a safer angle and still get their ball to rev up in the right part of the lane. They could also use stronger layouts than the high-rev player, this helped their ball read the midlane as well.

      The left was very similar to the right but went through less transition.

      Matching up your speed, tilt, revs, and angle was the secret this week because there was no doubt where your breakpoint needed to be. It was kind of like double downing when you are holding 11 and the dealer is showing 10. You know have a chance if you can only get the hit you need.

      This week we are in Tucson, and by the way I am typing this from the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort and Spa.

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