Walking into the bowling center this week, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I saw that we were bowling the team that creates a very unique situation in our league, thanks to their roster. With two lefties and a straight bowler, the transition they create is unlike anything we see from any other team. There is significantly less breakdown on the right side, along with more carrydown than usual. The last time we played them, I had to change to my Game Breaker 4 Pearl very early on to grind out a decent block, which I really enjoyed.

Without as positive of a mindset this week, and with some missing focus on the transition, this week didn’t even go as well as that mediocre night in terms of the final score.

How’d it go?

It started out great. I’ve been loving my Paragon since I had it drilled, and I felt like I was throwing the ball as well as I have all year to start the first game. As signs of transition started to appear, I made some small moves that felt good, but then I fell into the trap that many bowlers do: I started blaming myself far too much and the lanes far too little.

Game one

This game started great. Starting with the first seven strikes was nice, but more importantly, I felt great on the lanes. I felt like I’d done a good job of leaving “real life” behind when I came into the lanes, and I was ready for a good night. Even in those strikes, there were glimpses of differences between the two lanes. The right lane was starting to be a bit flatter in the pocket, while the left lane was creeping higher.

Eventually, I came in just a bit too light on the right lane. Since changing to a spare ball three weeks ago, I’ve been very solid, but for some reason, I doubted myself on this 7 pin, and that hesitation caused me to miss. I finished clean, but I had another flat hit in the tenth to let me know it was time to move.

Game two

I tried moving 1-and-1 inside, thinking the Paragon was burning up slightly on the right lane, and I hit flat again. It definitely didn’t look any better. It was only now (after three consecutive flat hits on the right lane) that I remembered what I’d done the last time against this team, which was move right and change balls. Wanting to keep the Paragon in my hand a little longer, I opted to move 2-and-2 right, which put me a board outside where I’d been in the first game.

In the second frame, I threw a shot that I thought was decent (but not great) and left a 3/10. This should have set off warning bells, but it did not. I just chalked it up to a bad shot and told myself that I’d throw it better next time (which I did).

Back on the right lane, I stuck at the line, pulled it, and spun the ball. It was not a good shot, and it never had a chance to strike, but it did hit the pocket for another light hit. This was not a good read for someone who was considering a ball change.

I then struck three times in a row in frames four, five, and six. I thought, “I’m probably okay with this now.” It was my last triple of the night.

Game three

By the end of game two, I was thoroughly frustrated with myself. Somehow, I’d gone from throwing it great for most of game one to not being able to hit my target at all by the end of game two. Going into game three, I was finally ready to make a ball change, but it was a change out of frustration, not because I necessarily thought it would work or thought about what to do to make it work. The GB4 Pearl had better shape, but I still struggled to repeat shots and carry on the good ones, so I grinded out a 180 game.

What a disappointing night.


Looking back after the night was over, I realized that I clearly wasn’t mentally prepared to work hard last night. I was also clearly not paying attention to the ball reaction. Instead, I was ready to beat myself up for any perceived physical mistake. Both of those things are pretty much a death sentence for your bowling score.

That last turkey

Sometimes the worst thing you can do is get strikes when you shouldn’t. Had I not struck in the fourth and fifth frames of the second game, I probably would have changed balls then and there. Instead, I got a turkey playing the wrong line with the wrong ball, and it fooled me for eight more frames. Worse still, because of that turkey, I started blaming myself for throwing it badly on shots that weren’t perfect instead of realizing that these shots were an indication that I needed to do something about my ball reaction. I fell head over heels into the “throw it better” trap. I loved being mad at myself this week.

By the time I did change balls, I was so far behind the transition that it took me a few frames to even get close, and I was so mentally fried that anything other than perfection from an execution or ball reaction point of view just had me getting more and more discouraged. This was easily my weakest mental performance in weeks, and possibly the whole year.

What could I have done differently?

Looking back, I should have remembered that the last time we’d bowled with this team, my move was to go to the GB4 Pearl and then gradually move right. My excellent reaction with the Paragon to start the night doesn’t change what this week’s opposing team does to the lanes, which is to pull more oil downlane than other teams in the league. Rather than the lanes opening up, with more and more friction being created in the heads, the heads are a bit more stable, and you see more carrydown to end up with lanes that start hooking less overall.

I’d like to think that I’d have made a move along those lines if I hadn’t gotten that turkey in game two, but who knows? I was missing cues that I usually catch, so my mind was clearly not as engaged as it needed to be. Sometimes there are no excuses for that, and you don’t realize it until it’s too late.

I allowed my focus to remain internal, thinking of my execution and being upset with myself, rather than keeping my focus external and paying attention to ball reaction. I’ve coached countless bowlers and written several articles along this theme, but we all fall into this trap sometimes, even if we know better. Hopefully, it’s the last time I do that for what’s left of the season.

Key points

  • Embrace the challenge. The first time I saw this kind of transition, I loved the experience, and the scores reflected the better mindset.
  • Once the ball leaves your hand, focus on your ball reaction, not how the shot felt. You can think about that after you’ve watched the ball go through the pins.
  • Reflect on the night, and let it go. This is especially important for rough outings.

Final scores: 247 – 204 – 182

2023-April 3

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.