Bowling This Month

Week 15: Finding the Positive

by Tyrel Rose | January 4, 2023 10:59 am

I walked away from bowling this week very disappointed, but I woke up the next day with a better understanding of why I hadn’t bowled up to my expectations. Let’s set things up, shall we?

It was our first night back since bowling on December 12th, so I was rusty. I’d committed to practicing at least once over the break, but I’d been fighting off a cold since Christmas, so I stayed home. We were bowling on lanes 61 and 62, which is a pair that’s had my number in the past, despite knowing that 62 is tighter downlane.

I was still pretty confident that I could perform well…at least until the first game started.

How’d it go?

Before breaking down each game, it’s important to note that regardless of what the scores indicate, the quality of the shotmaking was actually not that different from game to game. I struggled with accuracy, with a lot of variance in both my ball speed and launch angles. This can’t simply be attributed to rust, because I certainly executed better in the first week of the season after months without bowling, and interestingly, it was on the same pair.

Game one

There were a lot of mistakes in this game. Just about the only bright spot was my spare shooting, where I went six for six on makeable spares, which was a point of focus for me in the second part of the season. Unfortunately, I also left two big splits, and for those of you doing the math, that means there weren’t very many strikes.

After a few frames of playing my normal area with no results, I made a drastic move to play straighter, which didn’t prove to be much better. I then changed balls and slowed down to hook it more, which gave me my first strike of the game, followed by another errant shot that resulted in a split.

Mentally, I was trying to laugh off the mistakes and stay calm, but there’s no escaping a bad game when you’ve tried three different things and struggled to get to the pocket consistently. This should have been a sign, given that the house shot really isn’t that hard.

Game two

Needing a reset for the second game, I realized that I was trying to do way too much. Struggling with both my speed control and my angles, I was also complicating things by trying to use different angles and different hand positions. I needed to simplify by just trying to get back to my “A-game.” So I went back slightly outside, gave up on throwing the slower speed, and just tried to get back into a comfort zone. To a certain extent, it worked.

My execution was still all over the place. My shots still varied quite a bit in terms of accuracy and consistency, but I’d stumbled into a good ball reaction with some forgiveness. Combined with a few good shots, I was able to string strikes for a bounce-back game, but my body language was still pretty defeated. Unlike previous weeks when I felt my release was off and I simply adapted my angles to what my ball reaction allowed, I was struggling to get into a confident mental state due to the speed and launch angle issues I was having.

Game three

By now I was resigned to the struggle, but knew I was in a pretty good place on the lanes. I did have to make a small 1-and-1 move left on both lanes after a few frames as my ball started to go high and not go through the pins as well as during the second game. Despite still being unhappy with how I was throwing it, I know that you still need to play what you are seeing in front of you, and I was seeing the lanes change.

Without as many strikes as in game two, I once again relied on my spare shooting. It’s worth highlighting my successful conversion of the 2/4/5, because 2-pin combinations were another area of focus for me during my mid-season recap. With other things going badly, I really wanted to focus on some small victories to take away from the night.


It was about halfway through the third game when I realized that I hadn’t logged a single frame in Pinpal to track my stats for the week. That is a pretty good indicator of the level of focus I had going in, and can help explain a lot of my issues. Something I’d done consistently every time I bowled for three months had simply disappeared from my routine between frames.

Beyond that, I woke up the following day feeling the sickest I’d been in over a year. Clearly, at least part of last night’s physical struggle was related to my body not being at 100 percent, and actually being in worse shape than I’d thought.

Making excuses?

It’s important for bowlers to consider why they might have bowled poorly, especially with factors that might have been underlying issues that caused poor execution or focus. So here are some of the factors that likely influenced what happened last night:

Taken individually, none of these factors would likely lead to a bad performance. Taken together, it’s easy to see why I wouldn’t be at my best. Could I have bowled well? Yes, definitely. Was it likely based on all the factors? Not really. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I underperformed.

When doing debriefs with bowlers, there’s always a tendency for people to reject the idea of making excuses for a bad performance. Great athletes don’t make excuses. That’s fine, but it’s also what makes things like Michael Jordan’s famous “flu game” so extraordinary. You also need to recognize important factors that affect performance so that you can take steps to improve or change them, or at least try to adapt to the circumstances in a positive way.

Game one adjustments

What exactly was I thinking about in the first game? I made two very extreme adjustments rather than making small moves to find the right thing. In retrospect, it’s pretty clear I wasn’t properly focused. I wasn’t seeing the lane well. I was simply making moves based on what has worked in the past, not what I thought would work on that pair that night. It’s a trap all bowlers can fall into when they aren’t sure what to do.

A good example of this is my move outside with my Stealth. This was a move caused by stubbornness. In weeks 13 and 14, I’d changed balls away from the Stealth very early. For some reason, I decided I wanted to keep the ball in my hand. How could the ball that has worked so well all year suddenly not gotten me out of game one? So I made a drastic move to keep a ball in my hand when everything pointed at the fact I should just put it in the bag. Recognizing this, I’m going to adjust the surface on the Stealth before next week to see if it will help, and if not, I’ll simply get into my GB4 Pearl in the first game.

Spare shooting

I’ll mention this again, because it’s so, so important. Not because spare shooting is important (which it is), but because of the value of focusing on the positive. There’s always something positive to find when reflecting on your performance, even in a bad block. Despite bowling 60 pins under my average and feeling lucky to even score that well, I didn’t miss a single makeable spare. It made me particularly happy to make the multi-pin spares and even convert a split in the third game.

Final scores: 168 – 250 – 219

Source URL: