It’s always interesting coming back to league after a big night of bowling the previous time out. I wanted to adopt the same kind of attitude and mindset going in, without setting myself up with an expectation of the same kind of scoring. On the other hand, I wanted to keep the possibility of “why not?” so that I could do it again if it were to happen. In the end, I could only control my own performance and hope that I could find the right matchups to score and get a few breaks along the way.

Looking ahead to the night, I knew one key factor that would be different this week would be the transition. Last week it was just my team on the lanes, and this week we’d be bowling with four other bowlers who would have their own impact on the oil. As it turns out, it was the heaviest possible traffic, with a team full of bowlers all in the same area of the lanes as I was.

Warm-up went well, but I was definitely feeling tired. It wasn’t too bad, but I certainly didn’t feel like I had the energy level I wanted, and despite being confident with my game plan, I could feel myself being a little flat. We were bowling on lanes 61 and 62, which is always a tricky pair, and I started the night two board right on 62 because of the tighter back ends on that lane.

How’d it go?

Overall, it was a pretty good night. There was only one real blip later in the night when I missed a 10 pin, but I was pretty happy with my overall attitude and execution. I could have thrown more good shots, particularly at the start of the night, but I felt like I gave myself a chance to bowl well, even though my pin carry wasn’t quite where it needed to be.

Game one

The first game was a struggle to keep my ball speed in the right zone. This partially stemmed from having my energy level a bit down to start, and it wasn’t until later in the game that I started to feel a bit more zoned in with the right intensity. There was also a bit of hesitation on my part due to the lanes being different. I knew there was a risk of gassing it through the lane on 62, so a softer speed was the right “mistake” on that lane, but it held me back a little on the left lane where there was enough friction.

As a result, I threw a few shots too slow for the line I was playing, went high a couple of times, including once for a split, and generally grinded out the game. Striking out to finish with 213 gave me some confidence going into game two.

Game two

This was a solid game. I chased the pattern a board right, similar to how I’d done last week, and with my ball speed now where I wanted it, I was feeling pretty good. Engaged in a tight match, I pinched it a little and left a 4/9 split in the ninth frame. I actually thought it would hold since it was on the tighter lane, but it cut through the pins a little too much and left me in a bit of a pickle.

Rather than being upset, I saw this as a spare I knew I could make and wanted to give it my best shot. When shooting a split like this, I adapt my typical spare approach. Wanting to hit the left side of the 4 pin, I’ll stand one board left of my 7 pin spot and aim one board left of 20, which is my usual spare target for all my spares. I only do this on spares I’m actively trying to make, versus getting the wood, because of the risks of missing completely. I made the split to keep momentum on my team’s side, struck out in the tenth, and felt really good about my ball reaction going into the last game.

Game three

Game three started out feeling really good, but it went away in a hurry. It wasn’t a disaster, but halfway through the game, I couldn’t get the right angle to strike despite a few subtle moves. I really could have used some loft, but I hadn’t used that as a tool in quite a while. I tried a few other things first because I felt pretty close and had a great reaction to start the game. In the end, I couldn’t quite figure it out and ended up shooting 213 with a missed 10 pin.

The missed spare was an interesting moment of lost rhythm. The bowler beside me threw his first ball before I threw mine. As I came back to get ready to throw my 10 pin, he was standing there waiting. It was his turn to go, he had his ball in his hand, but he was just standing there. I wasn’t sure if I should just go or continue waiting. It wasn’t an overly long wait, maybe 10 seconds, but it definitely threw off my rhythm. As it turns out, he was waiting for a score correction, and then he went up to bowl. I then took my turn and missed the spare. On strike balls, I’ll put my ball down and completely restart my pre-shot routine, and I probably should have done that on this spare. But I didn’t, I missed it, and I cost myself 11 pins.

Self-reflection

The start of the night was a good example of not quite being in the right mental place to start. I had done my usual stuff before starting bowling, but I’d been yawning a lot and just wasn’t really “feeling it” until the latter half of the first game. Coupled with the lanes being a bit different, my small speed issue to start the night cost me some pins. I probably could have done a bit more to get more excited for the night, so as not to come out as flat as I did. It also could have been a bit of overcompensation to try not to be overexcited to bowl and shoot 800 again, knowing that there was a lot of work to do before that could even be a possibility.

Beyond that, my early struggles and small carry issues were a big test of my commitment and attitude. I passed this test by staying confident and feeling good about what I was doing throughout the night. The only bit of frustration set in a little after the missed spare in the third game, but I surprised myself with my calm confidence while dealing with the nine-counts and split early on in the night.

I definitely could have used loft toward the end of the night. One bowler on my pair has some significant loft, and his best game of the night came in the third game. I didn’t need to loft it as much as him, but it would have helped to project the ball over the early friction that had built up. Unfortunately, it was never a tool I used a lot, and it’s certainly not something I’m used to using now that I don’t practice as much. As someone who has always moved left and gone around the lane, I often used loft as a last resort or when near the left gutter, but as my game shifts into more of a tweener and straighter player, I’ll need to use this skill more and get back to being comfortable with it. I did use it in the tenth frame of the third game, but by then, it was too late. It could become a primary tool moving forward, so I’ll have to keep that in mind next week.

Key takeaways

  • Even the right mindset can’t knock down every pin. You still need to make good moves and execute your game plan.
  • Staying calm and confident is the best way to handle poor pin carry, so you can solve the problem.
  • Use the tools you have confidence in, and practice your tools so you can be confident in all of them.

Final scores: 213 – 237 – 213

2023-02-13

Tyrel Rose

About Tyrel Rose

Tyrel Rose is Bowling This Month's Director of Content. He is the former Head Coach for Team Canada, with almost 20 years of experience coaching bowlers of all levels. Tyrel is an NCCP Competition Development level and USBC Bronze Certified coach, and a former Canadian national champion.