To say this week’s league session was interesting would be an understatement. We had a rough start, a lane breakdown that forced us to change pairs, a great game, another brief delay, and a mediocre game that included a missed move. Wow. What a night. Let’s set it up.

Coming into the night reminded me of how I felt a few weeks ago, when I came in very tired. I felt tired, flat, and a bit unfocused in practice. By the end of practice, I felt pretty lined up, but I was doing what I could to bring my head into the game. What happened partway through the first game ended up being just what I needed.

How’d it go?

As the introduction stated, it was an up-and-down night. I started being pretty unhappy with how I was performing out on the lanes, but I ended up pretty happy, even though the scores weren’t particularly great. It all came down to bowling well on a tough pair to finish the night.

Game one

I started this game in the wrong headspace. I wasn’t frustrated or in any way anxious about the night. If anything, I was feeling something much worse: apathy. I felt pretty comfortable in practice, but I wasn’t throwing the ball particularly well. Chalk it up to some fatigue from a busy week the week before, or just feeling the grind of a long season starting to pile up. Either way, my shotmaking wasn’t great, and I missed a few spares.

I finally got my head into it about halfway through the game and threw some better shots to set up a big finish that would save the game. But in the ninth frame, the rake arm broke. Still able to clear the pins, we continued for a couple of shots—mostly because my teammate had the front nine and had to finish on that lane. We wanted to give him the opportunity to shoot 300 without changing to a new pair, but we ended up moving halfway through the tenth frame when the mechanic said he couldn’t fix it.

It’s worth noting here that my league bowls on fresh oil, and the pair beside us that we moved to had been bowled on during the day, so we had no idea what we were walking into. I threw my first shot in the tenth well. I was focused on saving my game, and it was probably my best shot of the game. I got a five-count, leaving the 2/4/5/7/8. So, not exactly a good reaction. I made the spare and moved right, this time leaving a single 2 pin. This new pair was extremely tight downlane, probably due to house balls going down the lane.

Game two

With my head completely back in it, I was determined to make the lane change a positive outcome for me. The lanes were clearly extremely tight downlane, with all eight bowlers struggling to get the ball through the pins. I moved another board right in the first frame and left a 2/4, so I decided to slow my speed down. Softening the speed (along with already moving right) worked perfectly. I gassed one for a 2 pin partway through the game, but otherwise, the strikes were flowing. Toward the end of the game, the ball started hooking a bit earlier. In retrospect, this was a sign I should move, but I missed it.

Game three

This game started out a bit slow. I was slow to see what was happening when the ball started to jump a bit high, but with how tight the lanes were downlane, I was hesitant to start chasing the pattern back inside. Adding some loft, I got closer to the pocket, but it wasn’t quite right. It’s also extremely hard to both decrease speed and increase loft at the same time. Looking around and seeing the scores going up again for the bowlers inside of me, I moved left by a few boards to save the game. It worked out to the tune of a 213, and I was honestly quite pleased with how I bowled on that tougher pair.


Let’s start with what is still ringing clear in my mind: my spare shooting. I missed more spares last night, and it’s been a theme throughout the year. Barring a few good weeks, I’ve been pretty disappointed with my spare shooting for most of the season. My single-pin spare percentage for the season is 89 percent, which is well below my standard of 95 percent. My multi-pin spare rate is 67 percent. While these are pretty good numbers for a once-a-week league bowler, they’re not to the level I want to hold myself.

In a classic “do as I say, not as I do” situation, I don’t use a spare ball. As a competitive bowler, I always used one, but I haven’t had one in several years. It’s the most obvious (and simplest) fix to help improve my game, so I’ll have one by next week.

Getting focused

The biggest bright spot of the night was the focus and mindset I brought to the change of pairs. By the time we had to change pairs, I’d gotten lined up on the lanes and was throwing it better. I was confident that I’d strike out to save the game. It would have been easy to get distracted and feel anxious about the new pair. In this situation, I always try to find the positive, and given that I was struggling to shoot 200, I figured that the new pair couldn’t be worse!

After my first shot got five when I thought I threw it well, it would have been even easier to feel a bit of panic about this new pair. Instead, I reframed the challenge as an opportunity to do what I love to do: figure out the puzzle. Several times in the early part of the second game, I was telling my teammates that this was what makes bowling fun.

It’s not always easy to focus on that part of the game, but this week the lane breakage made it a simple choice: turn this into a positive, or give up on the night mentally. It was easier because it’s not like I was lighting it up the first game. It would have been more challenging if I’d had the front 10, like my teammate. The goal for anyone faced with this kind of move is to treat it like a new night, and simply play what’s in front of you, without assigning a value relative to the other pair. When it’s out of your control, you just need to accept it and make the best of the new situation. I’m happy I was able to do that this week.

Key takeaways

  • Control what you can control. Accept and adapt to what you can’t.
  • Reframe distractions and challenges as opportunities to create a positive out of a potential setback.
  • Use a spare ball!

Final scores: 180 – 268 – 213


Tyrel Rose

About Tyrel Rose

Tyrel Rose is Bowling This Month's Director of Content. He is also currently the Head Coach for Team Canada, with over 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.