Bowling This Month

Week 14: Turning the Night Around

by Tyrel Rose | December 14, 2022 10:13 am

This week started with the two worst games of bowling that I’ve put together this year. Score-wise, they might not have been my two lowest scores, but as far as execution and the mental game are concerned, it was a rough two-thirds of the night. Game three finally turned around in terms of score, but I was still very upset with my performance to start the night. It certainly lends some clarity to what I’d like to improve for the second half of the season, which I’ll be discussing in next week’s blog.

We were bowling on lanes 57 and 58, which tends to play a bit tighter on the left lane. There also seemed to be some tightness downlane this week once again. Last week, I attributed it to the transition and the bowlers we were facing, but this week, we were bowling against a more typical team made up of two strokes and two tweeners, all playing the track or slightly outside. There could be numerous explanations for the downlane tightness, from the temperature change as we enter winter to an issue with the lane machine. Either way, it’s what I was seeing, and it’s what proved to be true all night. Unlike last week, though, there was some recovery from outside, which gave us a bit more room for error.

How’d it go?

The introduction makes it pretty clear that game one and game two were not good for me. The first was because of some bad spare shooting, while the second had far too many bad shots on my strike balls. None of this was the result of the lanes themselves. Instead, it was due to my own lack of focus and other issues.

Game one

After figuring out the lanes in practice, I was pretty comfortable with my look and I started strong. Unfortunately, the start of a pattern of transition cost me some pins, which I exacerbated by missing some makeable spares in the latter half of the game. This week, it was really easy to know when you had to move: flat hits. Any flat hit could reliably be fixed by a slight move farther outside. When the back ends are cleaner, I usually move 1-and-1 inside off of flat hits, but after last week’s experience on the tighter lanes, I knew that the move was 1-and-0 right.

Unfortunately, my clue to move was a weak split, and then two more missed spares due to lack of focus really hurt my game. I felt like I was still battling, though, and I even had a chance to win my point late in the game because almost everyone on the pair was struggling to string strikes. The missed spares ended up being the difference.

Game two

As I continued moving farther outside every few frames, I was feeling very comfortable with my look. But a strange thing happened. Rather than feeling comfortable and confident, freeing up my swing and bowling well, I threw a lot of bad shots in game two. The worst of it was when I missed by an arrow inside and missed the release so badly that the ball slid the whole way down the lane into the pocket. At least it wasn’t a split.

This is one of those games that gets me very frustrated. I was 100 percent in the right part of the lane, but I couldn’t take advantage of it because I kept throwing bad shots. I knew I was in the right part of the lane because the bad shots were all nine-counts. I can take solace in the fact that I was making my spares, but I felt like even moderately good shots would have given me another strike or two.

With a chance to strike out in the tenth frame to win my point, I left a stone 9 pin, which sent me for a walk between games. Ordinarily, taps don’t bother me that much, but between the point being on the line and the buildup of frustration over the first couple of games, I needed to get away, vent some frustration away from everyone, and give myself a talking to.

Game three

I changed balls to my GB4 Pearl in the first frame of game three. This is what I refer to as a “blind” move, because I didn’t throw it in the fill ball to see what it would do. I decided to pull the trigger on the move anyway and took an educated guess of where to stand. Three frames later I put it back in my bag. Here’s why:

So here I am, with strike, spare, strike to start the game, but absolutely zero confidence that I know what my GB4 Pearl is going to do on my next shot. I knew from my first two games that I could hit the pocket at will with my Stealth, and that I just needed to make better shots. So I went to put the GB4 Pearl back in my bag and took out the Stealth again. My teammate didn’t look too confident with that decision, so I said, “If I’m going to play right and jam it, I at least want to use the ball I know I can get in the pocket.”

I ended up going nine-count, spare, and then off the sheet to save the night. I missed my average by a negligible amount of pins, which only highlights how the night could have been with a bit better bowling in the first couple of games.


This would be an easy night to beat myself up about for my mistakes. Missing makeable spares and throwing plenty of bad shots had me pretty upset and still seething by the end of the night, despite finishing with a big last game. This is the kind of night where many bowlers would focus on the bad games despite a big last game. I’m happy I saved the night from a score point of view, but I also know I cost my team some points, and hate the thought of that as the captain and anchor of the team.

However, this blog (and any kind of self-reflection) is to help with the process of letting go of the mistakes and focusing on positive areas. Now that I’ve acknowledged the issues and weaknesses in my performance, there is more value in remembering the positives from the night, which were my lane play and mental turnaround.

Lane play

Part of what made the night frustrating was the fact that I felt like I was seeing the lanes quite well. Yes, the lanes were a bit weird, but it wasn’t confusing. I felt like I knew what I had to do. So from an observation and decision-making point of view, I’m very happy. I recognized the differences in the lanes in practice and felt like I was on top of the moves throughout the night. I finished the night a full five boards right of where I started on each lane, and felt I was seeing when I had to move pretty easily based on my own reaction and watching others’ balls go down the lane. This is a big plus! It would have compounded my errors had I been using the wrong ball or playing the wrong part of the lane.

Speaking of the wrong ball, I’m really happy with the change I made to get out of the GB4 Pearl after three frames. I’m guilty of the same mistake as many bowlers, stubbornly sticking to a ball change when another ball hasn’t been quite doing the job. But this wasn’t the ball’s fault. The basic math was that I threw three balls with the GB4 Pearl, and all three gave me surprising and inadequate reactions. It was simply better to go back to a ball that I knew I could hit the pocket with consistently and focus on making better shots to finish the night.

Mental turnaround

After going for a walk between games two and three and coming back to the lanes, I was climbing out of the mental hole I’d put myself in.  After my third frame, and committing to my Stealth for the rest of the night, I also got this text from my brother:

So I know right now isn’t a good time to talk. Just want to remind you about our convo last week about our personal demeanor affecting our teams. I feel it tonight […] and I know you’re struggling, but just something to think about on your end too.

He was bowling beside me and could see my struggles, and this message was the final piece to my puzzle for the last game. I might not shoot a huge game, but I was committed and ready for seven frames of good bowling. I wanted to help my team and they had been carrying me all night. The least I could do was repay their solid bowling with a better mental approach and being a good teammate.

Energy and focus

In retrospect, it’s easy to see why I executed so poorly to start the night. It was our last week before a two-week break, and like many people, I was looking forward to the holidays. My team was also comfortably in first place and I simply didn’t have a lot of urgency in my game to start. I didn’t bring my usual intensity. I’ve written before about the relationship between intensity and focus. Even though I was on top of the lane play part of my game, I simply didn’t bring the right focus to executing my shots: my pre-shot routine was all over the place, I wasn’t focused on spares, etc.

Getting mad while bowling doesn’t usually yield positive results. However, frustration and anger are a kind of emotional arousal that brings up your intensity. Usually, they result in a hyper-focus on internal issues and mistakes, but by refocusing on my team and external cues to simply make good shots, I was able to put that increased intensity to good use. My focus improved and I threw seven frames of quality shots to finish the night.

Key takeaways

Final scores: 199 – 217 – 260

22-12-12 Stats

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