Bowling This Month

Week 12: Stuck in the Middle

by Tyrel Rose | November 30, 2022 8:32 am

I had a pretty specific goal for bowling last night. We were facing the team that had just beaten us the week before, to take over first place in the league. This is the same team that beat us pretty badly a month ago as well in a position round. I wasn’t bowling on either of those nights. With another position round this week, facing them again, but the first time with me in the lineup, I wanted to feel like I made a positive impact on my team’s performance. I’m not so sure that I did, but the team did do well, so either way that’s a win.

But let’s set up the pair, shall we? You know when you see a traffic accident about to happen, but there’s nothing you can do about it other than watch and hope no one gets hurt? That’s how I felt in practice. We had a different Mr. Gem from my last blog, but it was another week of Roto Grip’s sanded tank getting thrown around the fourth arrow. We also had a thumbless one-hander throwing a polished ball around 17, and another higher rev rate bowler playing with a Roto Grip MVP around the third arrow. Add in my own cranker playing in the middle of the lane and then myself and there simply wasn’t any way around the lanes becoming a bit of a mess by the end of the night.

In practice, I had to make a choice: speed up and play outside the traffic, or get around the ball and try to play inside the traffic. I’m pretty sure I chose the right one, but I didn’t execute or commit to it as fully as I needed to.

How’d it go?

It was a pretty up-and-down night, and a good lesson in the value of making good decisions. Even on house shots, good decisions outweigh good execution, and I had my share of good and bad execution with good and questionable lane play throughout the night.

Game one

I can’t say that I was overly confident in my decision to cover boards with my Stealth in the first game, but the reaction was pretty good to start. We were bowling on lanes 59 and 60, where the left lane often hooks a couple of boards more than the right lane, and that’s what I saw with my reaction to start. There wasn’t a lot of excitement in this game, with a clean 208, but in what would become a bit of a theme for the night, the left lane was my nemesis, with only one strike on that lane the first game. Most of the hits were weak and I was trying to get my hand into the right position with the Stealth to get the right ball roll, but it never seemed to be right. Changing to my GB4 Pearl on the fill ball of the tenth frame, I struck with what appeared to be a much better motion.

Game two

The second game was very interesting. I started with a double, then threw a mediocre shot and left a 5 pin, which is a terrible reaction for a higher rev rate player. In the next frame, when the ball left my hand I said, “That’s a much better shot,” and by the time the words were out of my mouth I could see the ball wasn’t even going to hit the pocket. I left a 2/4/5 on a head-scratching reaction and realized that I’d gotten myself completely stuck in the middle of the transition from Mr. Gem and all the shiny balls going down the lane.

What to do? I was faced with the same decision as in practice, but with more drastic adjustment possibilities. I could speed up, move right, and try to get back into the pocket consistently, but probably sacrifice pin carry. Or I could slow down more and move even more left. In recent years, I’ve adapted my game to be more direct, and in all likelihood, I could expect to execute better by going outside, but I really didn’t think it would give me the best reaction. By slowing down and going left, I could get inside of Mr. Gem’s laydown and be sure of some fresher heads, and the slower ball speed would give the ball a more defined motion downlane to fight the carrydown I was seeing.

So I moved left with a wild guess of where to stand, went through the face, moved left again, and struck out to save the game.

Game three

This was a rough one. Full of confidence after my big finish in game two, I fell a bit behind the move and spent the entire game not striking on the left lane. The last three shots were particularly painful as I went stone 9, stone 7, and then ring 10. Looking back, I can see why this happened: they were the result of imperfect ball motion caused by my hand position being off. In the moment, they all felt close enough to strike and I was moving every frame to try to find the right shape, so it was a bit of a frustrating end to my night.


Let’s start with game three. What happened? Well, I finished very strong in game two—stronger than I expected using a skill that I haven’t used in several years—and so I missed the move as the lanes broke down even further in game three. Also, because of my rusty skills from this part of the lane, I was hesitant to bring my hand back underneath the ball more to help it roll better. Remember that the left lane hooks more, so I was so far inside that I didn’t want to catch the carrydown and go flat by going too forward with my release. But when you go stone 9 pin, smash 7 pin that was almost a 7/9, and then ring 10, it means the ball is not deflecting enough and I needed to get it to roll a little more. I was also watching everyone else go light on shots they threw too fast, so I was wary of speeding up again as well.

In the end, my lack of recent experience in this part of the lane, combined with how messy it got, made it hard to nail down the adjustment for a strong last game. Despite the lanes being a bit messy, I felt I had a very consistent reaction; it just wasn’t quite right. This is something to remember if I get that far left again when we bowl this team next time.

As far as game one is concerned, I’m mostly happy with my decision to stay left and hook it. If I’d started straighter, there’s a good chance I’d have had to make a giant move at some point, which would likely have been even more confusing. I was pretty close to where I needed to be, but I probably should have been slow-hooking the Stealth from the beginning to help it shape up more. Again, this is something to remember for next time.

Overall, I’m happy with how I bowled, missing just one spare, and my decision to use a rusty skill in what I believed was a better part of the lane. I threw a lot of good shots, and I think it gave me the best chance at a good score despite only rescuing game two and not adjusting properly in game three. I’m also a bit frustrated that I couldn’t squeeze a bit more out of the third game, being so close and not really catching any breaks. At the same time, good breaks are often the result of good ball reaction, so mine was a bit off. Oh well…there’s always next week.

In the end, I’ll always take a good night for the team over a good night individually, and though I didn’t get to do anything dramatic, I did my part in a solid group effort.

Key takeaways

Final scores: 208 – 242 – 198


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