By Stephen Padilla on Nov 2, 2019, 2:09:39 PM
Bowling well takes many adjustments along the way. The lanes change with every ball thrown and we need to adjust our shots to consistently put up high scores. This can sound simple, but it assumes something that isn't so simple: that we know where to start.
Knowing where to start is crucial in making the right adjustments throughout the game. For many players, there's a favorite place to stand, place to look, hand position, speed and so on. These are great if the environment is matching up to your game, but what if things aren't working on your given lane condition?
I sat down with Dave Nestor, research technician with USBC, to talk about some things he's learned recently by implementing a system for finding the right spot to play, particularly on sport patterns. These patterns tend to offer far less forgiveness than the typical house shot.
Prior to our conversation, Dave bowled several weeks on a sport pattern and struggled, rolling games in the 160s. After trying a different strategy to figure out where the lane condition is the most forgiving, he found success bowling well above 220 on the same pattern.
It Starts with Strategy from Shot No. 1
When the lanes come on, don't depend on luck to help with where to roll the first shot. Be prepared mentally and physically. If you do not have an immediate strategy, and regardless of the condition, roll your favorite shot. Throw where you prefer to stand and target.
Remember, you're not trying to strike yet; you're trying to find the pocket. Watch what the ball does. Does it go too long? Hook too early? Hit the pocket without drive? Pay attention to everything the ball does, it will guide your decisions as to how to hit the pocket and where to play.
With a Couple More Shots...
Once you have a path to the pocket, move your feet and target inside and outside of your "pocket shot(s)." How does the ball react differently in these parts of the lane?
You're looking for room to miss inside or out and still hit the pocket. The more room to miss and still hit the pocket, the better indicator you're in the right part of the lane. From there, start looking at how the ball goes through the pins to determine if you need to change speed or equipment to help with pin carry.
Looking for Shape
When you're comfortable getting to the pocket, start looking at shape. Use speed control and/or ball choice to help create the right shape to enter the pocket.
Using a simple system helps eliminate the thought of, "I have no place to play." Regardless of scoring pace, there always is somewhere to play and someone will figure it out. Make sure next time, it's you.