Archive for Bowling 101


Quick Tip: Tournament Preparation

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A lot of the youth bowlers were complaining to me recently, that they didn’t bowl well in a tournament because it started too early (8am).  I honestly had little if any sympathy because that’s a complete cop out.  I had to wake up numerous times when bowling collegiately at completely asinine hours(how about 3 or 4am) only to drive 4 hours hours to get to our destination, bowl for 7 or 8 hours and then head home the same day.  Preparation for this is key to giving you an edge over all those “it’s too early” bowlers.

Before a big tournament, make sure you get ample sleep and hydration.  This starts long before the night before the tournament.  In fact if you are a professional athlete of any kind, this planning could be months in advance, but I’d honestly settle for just a few days for most bowlers.  Getting a good night’s sleep is critical because it can directly correlate with your performance.  Groggy bowlers make poor bowlers that physically don’t throw the ball well, and make mental errors.  Also make sure to leave enough time to eat a reasonable breakfast and set yourself up to get to the bowling alley at least 20 minutes before the start of the tournament.

You never know what check-in might look like at the tournament so getting to the tournament center early sets you up so this is not a problem.  Also it gives you time to double check the fit on all your bowling balls before the practice lights get on.  I can’t tell you how many people only bowl evening leagues only to find on the morning of the tournament their thumb is either huge or shrunken.  Then they scramble to adjust tape in practice when it simply could have been avoided with a little preparation.

Especially if you aren’t familiar with the center, you might check how tacky the approaches are by sliding your shoe on the approach and adjusting your slide sole before practice begins.

Lastly, arriving early will give you a few minutes to relax and collect your thoughts before you start throwing balls down the lane.  This might not sound like much to most bowlers, but there is nothing worse than being rushed and arriving right before practice or worse, during practice.  You’ll be forced to make decisions quickly, when you likely would have made better decisions if you had thought about a few things before you started.

Paying attention to these softer parts of the game are important for gaining that ever so important edge in competition.  If this preparation only helps you carry 1 extra strike, it could be the difference between making or missing the cut.

For further reading check out Kegel’s Joe Slowinski who wrote a great article on the implications of sleep and bowling.

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I originally heard the term while watching some PBA Xtra Frame, and though I’m not sure who coined the term, the Bowling Doctor Jeff Mark referred to the typical house bowler style as “stomp and spray.”  I thought this was a great way of describing the bowler who has bastardized his game to conform to one lane condition at one particular center.  The best part is this bowler will actually gloat about how they carry an average equal to the players on tour and not realize how meaningless his 200+ average actually is.

Area Bowling.  This is simply when a bowler decides he isn’t going to target anything and is just going to throw the ball to the right and watch the dry boards pick up the ball and hope that it carries the ball back to the pocket.  This method has been popularized over the past few decades with the induction of modern bowling equipment and walled up house oil patterns (i.e. easy, high scoring patterns).

Spraying the Ball. Spraying the ball refers to the bowler that has a lot of area and could roll a 230 game with 7 boards of area at the breakpoint.  To determine how badly you are spraying the ball you need to watch the path of the ball after you release it.  Watch the ball as it rolls through your target (or not if you failed to hit it) and then follow the ball path with your eyes to the break point to see how consistently you are hitting the breakpoint*.

So if you are an area bowler I first want you to be aware of it and second I want you to really work on honing your skills and hitting your targets and breakpoints(also important is the exit point of the oil pattern, but that is a discussion for a different time and day).  Relying on the oil pattern to carry your ball back to the pocket isn’t going to get you anywhere when you encounter a tournament condition or finally make that trip out to nationals.

The reality is I’ve seen many stomp and spray bowlers get a rude awakening when they finally try a sport condition for the first time.  A 200+ bowler could easily struggle to maintain a 160 average in a sport league.  I’ve seen it time and time again.

*Breakpoint – The point at which the ball begins to change directions and head back towards the pocket.

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The Baker System

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The other day I was asked what exactly a baker game is.  I was surprised to see that quite a few people have never experienced the baker format so lets take a minute to explain.

The Wrong Kind of Baker

The Wrong Kind of Baker

The Baker System is a team format where more than 1 bowler comprises the score of one game.  The most common would be the 5 person format where bowler 1 bowls frames 1 and 6, bowler 2 bowls frames 2 and 7, bowler 3 bowls frames 3 and 8, bowler 4 bowls frames 4 and 9 and bowler 5 (often referred to as the anchor) bowls frames 5 and 10.  The order is set at the beginning of the match but can be changed after the completion of each game.

It is common to see the baker format in intercollegiate bowling and some tournaments.  In fact one of the leagues I am in has a baker game at the conclusion of the 3 game format.  It provides a lot of team camaraderie, additional pressure and an awesome close out to the night.

A lot of people don’t like the baker format because they like to have an established average at the end of the night that is their own, as most bowlers are used to bowling for themselves.  This is unfortunate as those whom have never experienced the baker system are missing out.

Additionally there must be some careful strategy in setting the line up.

Have you ever competed with the baker system format?  Leave a comment and let everyone know what your thoughts are.

Categories : Bowling 101
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