I knew what the title of this blog would be before I even bowled this week. I did several things that I, as a coach, don’t recommend this late in the season or close to a major tournament:

  • I made a grip change, lengthening my span slightly, modifying my pitches, and changing to grips.
  • I drilled a spare ball and didn’t throw it at all until warm-ups.
  • I drilled a new strike ball, but I didn’t yet redrill my Game Breaker 4 Pearl, which has been my go-to ball recently.

The reason I don’t recommend these things is that it can take a while to get used to a grip change, even when it’s an obvious upgrade. I’d been contemplating a grip change for a good chunk of the season, partly due to struggles with my spare shooting and partly due to issues with my release. I hadn’t had my grip checked in a while, although I had adjusted the pitches in my fingers. When your ball driller is all the way across the country, there simply aren’t a lot of opportunities to get that done. Given the chance recently, I took it.

I drilled two new balls with this new grip: the Track Paragon and a spare ball. For full disclosure, these were drilled and had been shipped before last week, but I hadn’t received them yet, which is why I knew I’d have at least a new spare ball for this week’s league session. While getting a new strike ball this late in the season isn’t a bad thing at all, making the switch from no spare ball to using one is only something I’d recommend in the off-season when you’ve got time to get used to it. A mitigating factor in my case is that I’d used a spare ball throughout my more competitive days, and I was simply manipulating my release to make reactive balls go straight for my spares. In both cases, I used the same starting board and target for all my spares. Aside from my struggles, it was Juha Maja’s recent article about spare shooting that was the final factor in the decision.

Beyond these pretty obvious changes, we were also bowling a team that has had our number for most of this season. With a substitute bowling, there were six out of the eight bowlers, including myself, in the track area with a strong dull ball. It had the potential to get messy, and to some extent, it was, but I benefitted from the motion of the Paragon, which minimized the damage on shots that didn’t strike.

How’d it go?

Transition happened fairly quickly due to the traffic, but it didn’t require big moves with my new Paragon. The real surprise came in the third game as the lanes broke down and I had the opportunity to test just how versatile the Paragon is, without the option to go to my GB4 Pearl.

Game one

Feeling comfortable at the end of warm-up, I could feel more friction on the right lane. With the Paragon’s strong core and motion, this was actually expressed more with flat hits than with high hits, something that would become more and more evident as the night went on. After a pretty good shot that didn’t quite finish for a 2 pin, and then another shot that hit flat, I had a decision to make. Most of the time, 2 pins would indicate a move to the outside, but with all the traffic, and the flat 10 pin that followed it, I decided to make a parallel move inside.

The goal was to find a bit more oil in the heads, get the ball to retain more energy, and let it finish harder. With such a strong core and cover, I was pretty sure that the Paragon didn’t need more friction; it needed more oil. The move worked until a ringing 10 pin in the tenth frame.

Game two

The second game was pretty similar to the first one. After a few frames, it became evident that I was behind the move again, thanks to some flat hits. This is where I started to really like the Paragon. Rather than leaving me something ugly, it was leaving me single pins to let me know it was time to move. Spare ball or not, it’s much easier to stay clean shooting single pins than shooting 3/6/10 or bucket combinations.

Once again, catching up to the move, I finished with some strikes and gave myself a chance to win the match with a double in the tenth. Unfortunately, I was a little too soft on the second shot for a 4/7. Oh well…it was a pretty good game.

Game three

The third game started with a swish 7 pin. It wasn’t a great shot, but by this point, I’d learned enough about the Paragon. While I was pretty pleased with my first two games, I knew I’d fallen behind the move a bit in both of those games. After this shot, I committed to moving right away to stay on top of it. I was prepared to go light if I was a bit too quick to pull the trigger. I moved another board left with my feet and got my hand around the ball to increase rotation. I wanted to open up the launch angle a bit, but also let the Paragon retain energy, as the heads were getting drier and drier.

It worked to the tune of almost striking out the rest of the game for a 289.


I had no reason to expect such a good night. However, bowling on a house shot and having full confidence that I would be able to make spares with my new spare ball, I wasn’t too worried about the night. Plus, the Paragon left me a lot of easy spares rather than any messy ones, which makes it much easier to stay clean. There’s nothing like a clean series to immediately validate this decision to drill up a polyester ball for spares. With any luck, this can continue for the last few weeks of league and help my team in every little way possible.

Learning as we go

I wasn’t too concerned about drilling a new strike ball for league. Bowlers do this all the time, and the only real challenge was potentially going to be the fit. Even though I was comfortable with it, I hadn’t used it and knew I might see some differences. For one thing, early in the night, I was pulling the ball a bit more. Again, this is where bowling on a house shot certainly lessened some of the mistakes, and the fresh coverstock gave me plenty of pin carry.

Bowling balls tend to give different clues about transition. Quicker-response balls tend to appear more sensitive, jumping high or skating through the oil as it gets moved around. These balls are more likely to leave splits from having too much angle, such as the 4/9 (or 6/8 for lefties) if they go high, or the 2/10 combination (3/7 for lefties) if they go light. On the other hand, balls with a slower response to friction tend to hit flat as the fronts burn up and oil gets pulled downlane.

Over the course of the night, the Paragon proved to be a bit slower for me and gave me some easy spares. Paying attention to the clues during the first two games allowed me to make the right move in the last game, and luckily I didn’t need another one for the rest of the night. Once my GB4 Pearl is drilled with my new fit, you can be sure I’ll be throwing that ball in practice to compare the shape and hook potential to the Paragon so I’ll have an idea of what to do when I need to switch balls.

Key takeaways

  • Pay attention to the clues each ball gives that it’s time for an adjustment. They’re not always the same.
  • Use a spare ball. Yes, this needs to be repeated as much as possible.
  • It’s a risk to change fits mid-season. This should ideally be done in the off-season.

Final scores: 227 – 223 – 289


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.