- 1. Know yourself
- 1.1. Am I ready?
- 1.2. Which skills do I prioritize?
- 2. Know your equipment
- 2.1. Comparison practice
- 2.2. Surface practice
- 2.3. Skill practice
- 2.4. Am I competition-ready?
- 3. Conclusion
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In my coaching work at international competitions, my job many times came down to presenting options to players. As a coach, it’s rarely a good idea to make decisions for your players, so the goal is to help guide them to a decision they can commit to. Once presented with a set of options—such as moving inside and getting around the ball more, increasing speed or loft, or changing balls—the athlete can then decide what they believe is best for them. If I’ve done my job correctly, any of the options presented will improve their ball reaction, and it’s up to the bowler to choose the right one.
This brings us to the first two steps of improving your lane play: know yourself and know your equipment. Sure, every bowler can benefit from another set of eyes to help narrow down the options for lane play, but ultimately, it’s still you, the bowler, who must make the decision based on some very important constraints:
- What can I do?
- What will my ball do?
Without a firm grasp on both of these two things, the perfect adjustment will forever be out of your grasp. To improve your lane play, we must start by understanding these constraints so that we keep our decision-making within what we are practically able to do. It’s no help to think of options that are outside of your abilities, your comfort zone, or your confidence zone.
Understanding your capabilities comes in a few distinct steps. The first is developing the actual skills, the second is evaluating the skills to know if they are competition-ready, and finally, once you have enough skills in your physical inventory, it’s understanding which of the skills you have the most confidence in.
The purpose of this series isn’t to teach you how to develop your physical versatility skills, but there are plenty of articles already available with this information, including my own three-part series:
- Introduction to Bowling Ball Axis Control
- Introduction to Loft Manipulation
- Introduction to Adjusting Ball Speed
Suffice it to say that skill development is all about repetition until the skill has been learned. Once a physical manipulation skill set is sufficiently mastered, it should be unconscious to the point that you can decide to loft it and then successfully deliver the ball with the appropriate loft, or decide to get around it and then successfully deliver the ball with the appropriate axis rotation, etc.
I stand by the advice provided by Andy Penny in his article, Bowling’s Golden Rules – Part 3, that you should focus on one ...
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