June 10 practice

I’ve recently said I’ve often found it hard to find time to practice, but another reason why I don’t practice enough is that I’ve found I bowl too quickly when bowling alone, with one game enough before my league play.

Things were different tonight, however, as I got an offer from my Wednesday night teammate Jeff to practice together while his son Phil bowls the Friday night youth doubles league. The pace was slow enough for three games bowling with him, and I used the time to work a little more with my Alpha Crux, but I struggled early on, with my few weeks layoff showing. I didn’t put a double together until a turkey to start the third game, and still missed enough spares for that to not be a 200. Still, I plan to meet up with Jeff occasionally to keep my game in order for the fall.

Sept. 5 practice

I set out for today’s practice with the knowledge that the shot has already been changed from Stonehenge, and Kevin Thibeault confirmed for me that the shot is now 2 ft. longer (42′) with a little more volume. As I practiced, I found that my Marvel Pearl was my most playable ball, even with me dragging my Hy-Road out of the closet. I had a 173 with a double in the game I sort of was bowling for score.

Doing some other things in the area after practice, I bumped into my teammate Barry and brought him up to speed on the lane conditions, suggesting his Brunswick LT-48 might still be playable.

Aug. 31 practice

Knowing that the new shot was going to be out, I took part of today to begin my preparation for the coming season. Faced with the longest pattern I’ve bowled on to date, one of the suggestions I was given was to take the surface of my IQ Tour Fusion down. Brian Egan thought I’d do well with 3000 Abralon (meaning Abralon pad at 3000 grit), but when I tried that surface on the lanes, I found it a struggle to hold line most of the time (though I had a few decent shots), so I brought the Fusion back into the shop and asked Kevin (Thibeault) to bring it up to 4000 Abralon. I told him I’d pick the ball up tomorrow, but the test of the higher surface will come in my league’s no-tap tournament after the meeting Wednesday.

Oct. 12 practice

With the exception of last week, I’ve been able to get into a regular Saturday morning practice routine (bowling by the desk while the kids are bowling closer to the high end of the house). My feet are usually an issue in the morning, but they felt better this morning, and I’m happy to say my practice session today didn’t feel like I was wasting my time. After my “throwaway” first game, I was able to put some good shots together and average around 200 (with a clean 211 second game), and what started as wanting to see what my Nano could actually do on the house shot ended up being work on footwork and swing plane, because I was able to get the Hy-Road to the pocket after paying attention to those physical game points.

Sept. 28 practice

I was able to get up to the alley again this morning to practice, but my left foot was balkier than usual, so I give my first game a pass. As I was leaving plenty of spares, I was able to work on improving getting lined up on my left side (the miss of the 7 the other night was worse than usual), and I think I succeeded; just so I could get some work on my 7, I even intentionally went after only the 7 on a 1-2-7 leave I had. I’m hoping today’s spare work pays dividends down the line.

Sept. 21 practice

Trying to establish a practice routine (sort of), I went today while the kids were bowling, using some of the time before practice to go over stuff for the Junior Professionals Tournament with Stephen Major and his mother (Chris). The practice itself was rather pedestrian, as it seemed the only thing I could do right was make my 10 pin (and even then I missed one of them), leaving more clusters and buckets than I care to remember. An average practice session may have nothing to do whatsoever with how I perform in league, as my 665 the other night followed a rather mediocre session in its own right.

Sept. 13 practice

Having time out of the apartment today, I used some of it to see how playable the new shot was with my Hy-Road on the fresh, and I found that it was playable when I sought to throw it straight up 10 or 11. All but my third game was over my two-week average, and I was tending to leave weak 10s early, but ringing 10s later on. My release wasn’t all that consistent, usually leaving a split when I let it get away.

June 17 practice

I got to practice today, and I decided not so much to work on my physical game, but, with me having left a couple of 10s in league last week, I wanted to see if my Fast would carry any better than my Tropical Breeze. I just used the first game to warm up with the Tropical Breeze, then pulled out my Fast for the second game. I did see that my carry was pretty much the same, and maybe even the Tropical Breeze was carrying slightly better, so it turned out I had the right ball in my hands at the right time.

May 28 practice (with follow-up on Aguiar)

My brother told me he’s going to be making more weekend visits once Harvard lets out of school, so, with Saturday mornings being taken out of play for practice, I needed to find a weekday suitable for morning practice, and decided that Tuesday was as good as any day and practiced this morning. While I couldn’t use the “too early” excuse because of my two Saturday mornings alone, I didn’t get my game together until the third game and shot 210, though it should be said that I had a 224 possible in the 10th frame.

Alex Aguiar follow-up: I’ve been meaning to note that Alex Aguiar lost the Regular Doubles lead at the USBC Open last week to a team from Missouri. While he won’t get his eagle, I’m sure he was very pleased with leaving Reno with the lead and knew it was out of his hands from that point. He will participate in the World Series of Bowling this fall, saying on the social media that he would if he didn’t have to defend the doubles title next year.

May 18 practice

My practice session started slow, with a 155 game, but I really had an “Aha!” moment in the 10th frame and, while not striking out to end it, I started the next game well, went a clean 237, then ended with a 224 that might have been in the 240s if not for a couple of single-pin misses. All told, it was a 616 series, which was even better than last week. I’m happy I’ve been practicing well…just need to bring that to league now. 😀

My league’s banquet is tonight, and I will have my phone with me, so I’m hoping I can post from the site (maybe including a photo or two).

May 11 practice

I’m usually not a morning person, admittedly, but I was feeling more chipper than usual this morning, and, combined with the fact that I wasn’t expecting my brother for shopping as well as Westgate Lanes offering the early-bird rate on Saturday mornings, I decided to get some practice in. If anything, I was expecting to get some games in with my clean Tropical Breeze before summer league starts next week.

As the session progressed, however, it became apparent that the lack of late movement I was experiencing in the Jimmy Fund fundraiser might have actually been “operator error.” I was standing 33 and looking around 11 a good part of the session, and the ball was making it back if my release was strong, and it definitely was most of the second game, which was a 233. All three games were at least 10 pins over my final winter league average for a 602 total, and I missed five spares in 30 frames: a 10, a 7, a 3-6-10, a pocket 7-10, and a washout (not necessarily in that order).

Saturday morning practice might become a regular thing. 😀

Apr. 7 practice

I was intending to afterward, anyway, but with my board meeting being called off this morning after only three of us showed up, I actually took a practice lane for the first time in months. Mostly, I was intending on practicing my left side spare game, and, with his wife running Tri-City’s annual membership meeting today, Steve Hamilton was able to watch me and helped me get lined up on that left side.

He also brought up some physical game points, including the usual early turn, but also including my slow ball speed. He suggested that I needed to be faster, so I did the most obvious thing to me and stood further back on the approach, which forces me to quicken my feet. I did throw better shots toward the end, but, during the session, I brought up dropping myself down in ball weight, and he told me he has had to do that himself. Ray likes me at 15 lbs. and I may not want to buy all new equipment, so I’ll see how I do making other changes first.

Feb. 7 lesson

After postponing the lesson last week because I couldn’t get out of the house, I had it with Ray today. My form is generally good, but my release, while better than it has been, still needs work, because I still turn early and I need to think lift before turn. After the video session, I started with six in a row that were absolute bombs, but I think I reached a fatigue point when Ray came out with his camera again.

I was throwing my Hy-Road, but Ray had the idea of using one of my stronger balls, mainly my Marvel Pearl, on the theory that my release will be better when I can make a stronger ball hit the pocket and not go high. I wasn’t as successful, but had a couple of successes, which I’m trying to keep in my brain. Weather permitting, I’ll try to practice after Sunday’s board meeting.

A ball to “Marvel” at

I recently re-evaluated my arsenal, after learning about technical details of the core like RG and differential, and noticed that a hole in my arsenal was a stronger pearl. I addressed the hole (with the ball being acquired tonight) by having Ray order me a Marvel Pearl. The new IQ Tour Pearl was under consideration too, but I wanted something I could use on a heavier volume house shot and have the reaction of my weaker balls. With that in mind, I considered the layout options and, liking the layout of my Fast, decided to put the pin in my ring finger.

Trying the ball out, I found I could cross a lot of boards with it, but it was pretty much as expected. There may not have been as much oil as I wanted, but it allowed me to also work, during the one free game I got, on playing inside third arrow while targeting further down the lane. On my good shots, I left a couple of flat 10s, but also had a couple of solid strikes, so I am now more confident I can move more inside when I need to.

Sept. 4 practice

I felt I needed a practice session, if anything to make sure there were no surprises with the shot for tomorrow night. Without giving too much away, I had seven in a row in the second game, so what I was doing was working, for the most part. My spare game was off, but I did convert the 6-7 in the first game.

Brunswick Mixed no-tap note: Shawn emailed the results of last week’s no-tap tournament today, and I came in second, just two pins behind Juan Rosario, a newcomer to the league. Congrats Juan, and we’ll get acquainted soon.

Fall links transition: To save time both at the bowling alley and when I get home tomorrow, I set up the new league on BowlingTracker.com and BowlSK, and the links to the stat sheet and BowlSK league index are up in the sidebar, under “Author’s links,” as usual.

Mar. 22 lesson

Today’s lesson was more of the same from previous lessons, but today, Ray moved the tape on the lane right up to the break point, and something seemed to click, as I threw four or five good shots in a row. When I mentioned last night’s problem with the right side, he told me to line up for the 10 but also aim for the tape, and project to it. After missing a single 10 I had standing, the last balls were with me throwing my 10 first, then my strike ball, with me contacting the 10 every time and the last strike being just about dead perfect. Ray called this a good lesson, and I had to agree with his assessment. My next practices will also have me shooting 10 first, then strike.

Feb. 28 practice

In today’s practice session, I mostly continued work on my release, and I threw a few more shots that I was happy with. Something I tried to add to my “bag of tricks” today was the technique of “circling the heads,” as written about by Bill Hall (a Silver coach who is working the Showcase Lanes at the USBC Open Championships in Baton Rouge) in an article about lane play in the current Bowling This Month. This technique means you move your feet in, but your eyes out in an attempt to take advantage of the outside friction. I got a couple of strikes and a couple of 10 pin leaves early in the third game trying this before fatigue from the pace of my bowling had me throwing poorer shots.

Feb. 9 lesson

After missing Ray two weeks ago because he didn’t put my scheduled lesson on his calendar, I finally saw him today. What we saw in my early shots is my hand turning too early again, even though it’s in perfect position coming back. His idea was to tighten up my line so that I’m not trying to hook it, so he devised a drill that had me throwing to a piece of tape on the lane about 20′ (and later 30′) down the lane. I didn’t have perfect shots trying this, but the thing I noticed later is that if I’m thinking about keeping my forearm as well as my fingers pointing at the target, I throw my shot a bit better, so this is something I’ll be working on.

Jan. 31 practice

I spent most of my practice time working on a tip I saw on the forums: Staying under the ball by keeping the weight of the ball on the index finger in my swing. Among the other things I also learned is that my Reign of Fire may be too early-rolling even in fresh oil, as I generally made better shots after switching to my Hy-Road early in the second game after a start in the 130s; I may have use that ball the entire night instead of starting with my strongest ball. Another thing I may have figured out is where to line up for my 7 pin based on going over the middle arrow instead of going over the third arrow, as I only missed one 7 in something like three or four attempts. I ended practice with my best game in months: a 229 in which I had the first six and my only open frame coming after leaving the bucket plus 7 pin.

Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow night. 😀

Jan. 3 practice

This past weekend, I received a late Christmas gift to myself in the mail: Norm Duke’s instructional DVD. I sat down to watch it last night after the Celtics game, and decided in my practice today to work on one of the lessons that I thought could help me immediately, the one on swing planes. The general idea of this lesson is that in the horizontal plane (which controls direction), you want to start the ball in the opposite direction to where you want the ball to go. After struggling with my Hy-Road again, I switched to the Reign of Fire and really began to work on it. It seemed to help, with me getting two games over my league average and the third being ruined by a few single pin misses. I did find, though, that that swing plane lesson also helped on spares, and I’ll just chalk the misses to being a bit fatigued from the bowling pace. I’m hopeful this can carry into tomorrow night.

Nov. 17 lesson

While I was warming up for my lesson today, Ray remarked that my Fast (which I’ve been using) may not be the perfect ball for the current THS, but that the upshot of that was that it’ll get me to learn to bowl better. My answer was that I knew the Fast could carry if I hit the pocket, so I didn’t mind the learning process.

Another thing that came up was that I remarked about not really feeling my finger position through the swing, after which Ray reminded me of a long-neglected bit of ball maintenance: keeping my grips clean. He likes acetone for cleaning the grips, but not wanting to use something that’s not on the list of approved cleaners, I asked about others, and he said dish liquid and water would be fine.

The bulk of the lesson was on hand position, with Ray telling me about how reverse psychology works in bowling: If I turn in too early, what I want to do is turn out. In the process of going over this, he was on the approach with me getting me to feel where the ball should be on my hand at the top of my backswing. My shots after that were uneven, but this was normal, and I did get in a few good ones, including one I absolutely killed as my time on the lanes was running out. He remarked at the end of the session, that there are really only two things I need to keep working on: hand position through the swing and keeping the ball close to my feet at release.

Nov. 15 practice

I was actually able to get up to the lanes for practice today, and, while I wasn’t consistent, I did have my moments. After struggling in the first game and early in the second game, I was actually able to put a few decent shots together to get a 202 second game. However, I didn’t start well in the third game and was only able to get to 150 after a 2-and-1 move inside. I also missed a couple of 10s in the first game, but adjusted to give myself more angle and made the rest of them, including going after the 10 on splits involving that pin.

Oct. 25 practice

Admittedly, I’d been lax about getting practice time in recently, especially after they stopped the half-price rate during the day on Mondays. I needed to “bite the bullet” more, however, and Tuesdays are usually the time I can come down when they have the house shot out.

Today, the focus was mostly on getting my lift and projection on my shot, and that was, understandably, spotty. Ray was in the building, so I got some bonus time with him, watching me throw a few shots and providing me feedback where he could. There was no focus on score today, as it probably should be. Wanting that tip I got on making the 10 to stay with me, I made the one 10 I threw at, one I left as part of the “Woolworth” split (5-10).

Oct. 20 lesson

I was looking forward to my first lesson with Ray in over three years, hoping to get a baseline on what I can improve on.

During warm-ups, I noted to Ray about my problems making my single 10, and he gave me a hint I hadn’t thought of: He said that if I draw a line between the third arrow and the reflection of the 10 pin on the lane and throw to that line, I should be more consistent with it. Indeed, I made both 10s that I shot at during the session.

What mattered more was the video analysis of my game, and the first thing Ray noticed that was “off” was my drift of 10 boards to the right in my approach. Part of what we worked on after was walking straight down the approach, fine-tuning my line with how my ball was reacting. As a result, I will now be trying to stand on 30 to start and going over the third arrow.

Another thing we had to work on was a problem that has lingered: It seems I am thinking turn before the ball gets to my feet in my downswing, preventing my fingers from remaining in the 6 o’clock position and causing the all-too-familiar double-dribble. I also needed to try to keep my elbow tucked in, keeping my swing close to my feet at the end. We had more success correcting this latter problem than the former, but we did end with a shot that seemed close to what Ray wanted to see. More work will be required in practice, of course.

I have another lesson scheduled in about 4 weeks.

June 28 practice

In dire need of a practice session after over a week of not bowling and not having had an actual practice session in some time, I hit the practice lane today with two things in mind: tightening up my line, as suggested by “CoachJim,” and to work on lining up on my right side spares using a tip I saw from Pete Weber on the summer PBA telecasts over the weekend. As for the latter, I missed a couple of spares on that side early, but made all of them afterward as I got used to trying to point my toes toward the pins (I didn’t realize I often pointed my left foot away from the pins) and walking toward them as I deliver the ball. I also resigned myself to the thought of having to hook at some of my spares in the middle, particularly those involving the 2 pin, and made the two “makeable” leaves I had involving the 2: a double wood and a single 2 later. With the former, I didn’t always execute, but I started the last game with four strikes and found myself having to make spares until the 10th, when a “Big 4” ruined a clean game; I ended up with a 206.

Apr. 26 practice video

As I hinted at in my last post, I also brought my pocket camcorder and tripod with me to practice and got some video. I did most of the shooting in the second game, but sort of struggled with my balance, so I worked on that, then got a shot in the last frame. My shot shown below is probably not “perfect” (though my release was a bit better, I think, than in the video I showed “CoachJim” many weeks ago), but I’m only posting it to give my readers an idea of how I’m playing the lanes, on the house shot, these days.

Those wanting a download can watch on YouTube, reload it by making the host read http://www.kickyoutube.com, and it will allow you you download it as an MP4 (which is the format I uploaded it as, anyway).

Apr. 26 practice

I was planning it, anyway, but a DSL outage here for most of the day gave me a great excuse to hit the practice lanes. I spent most of my time working on release, and, while some shots weren’t perfect, I was still around my average, with the only easy spare miss being one 10 pin.

I’m saving something related to this for tomorrow…stay tuned! 😀

Feb. 14 practice

I had another good practice today, not so much because I was stringing strikes, but because my confidence in my spare game seems to have returned. I had only one open in each game, a split, followed by a miss of the 7 pin in each of the other two games. The 7 pin miss in the third game was stinging, however: if I had made that spare, it would’ve been an all-spare game. I did learn (and probably should’ve kept in mind all along) that my release is my key for my spares…if I get out of the ball well and project down the lane (not dropping it behind the foul line), I can usually make what I’m shooting at. I also made everything my 10 pin was involved in except for the first-game split, which was the Big Four; I got my count on the right side, so I’ll still consider myself perfect on the day on my right side.

I mentioned in my previous post that I was saving my practice post for something special…that something special is a milestone: this is my 1,000th post to this blog. 😀

Feb. 8 practice

After not being able to get to the lanes yesterday (I just had too much stuff to do downtown.), I was bound and determined to get practice in today. Eileen was taking a mini-vacation off of work for her birthday (it was today) and had just wrapped up a lesson with Ray, so I said hello to her while she was practicing. She decided to get two more games in, and I got my gear out of my locker and set up near her as she was bowling the first of those.

The main thing I wanted to work on, as I’ve stated in recent posts, was staying behind the ball and getting my wrist positioner setting dialed in so I could do so. It definitely helped: the first game was a clean 245 with five in a row in the middle, after which I pointed the game out to Eileen, saying, “See? It’s a simple game when you’re doing it right.” Eileen wrapped up around the end of my second game, but couldn’t hang around because she had volleyball tonight, so I finished up alone. My easy spare misses involved the 10 pin, but I think I still got around 620 for the set, which is “more like it.” 😀

Nov. 29 practice

Today was a different practice from my norm, as all I wanted to do was try out my new Reign of Fire on a tough shot, namely the Coke Classic League pattern and, being that I had 11 free games between the pro shop and referring a new bowler to a league, I only used two of those free games for that purpose to get my free game “stash” to a number divisible by three.

Generally, I liked the look I had on the Coke shot with the ball, standing on 28 and going straight up 10 at the arrows. I felt I could strike more often than I did with my dulled-down Hy-Road on “Dead Man’s Curve” back in the January tournament, and, where the two shots play so similar, I could declare myself “ready” for the tournament if not for the fact that I missed too many spares in my two games. If I have a similar look on the true sport shot Sunday as I did today on the “tough house pattern,” I figure I’ll at least have a chance, however.