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.

Nov. 15 practice

I arranged with Rob Dickens to meet for a practice session together today, and I had hoped it would be practice with my new Reign of Fire on the Coke league shot. However, there was miscommunication between Bev, who thought Junior didn’t want the Coke league’s lanes given out until after 5 PM, and Junior, who told me after practice that he didn’t care if anyone got the Coke league lanes before those bowlers came in. As a result, the session was on the THS.

Rob could only stay for two games, so I concentrated on my total game with a quasi-competitive feel to it for those games. I won both games scratch, but it was far from easy in the second game, where I needed just 7 pins on 2 balls in the 10th to tie (I was working on a 9th frame strike), but left the “Big Four” with my first ball, meaning I had to get pins out of it. As I missed a single 4 pin earlier in the game, I used the opportunity to practice the left side and got the two on that side for a two-pin victory.

The third game was spent on my middle oil game, and I’m pleased to report that I made progress, as I threw a one-open 202 on the line I tried with my brother last week. As I feel I’m going to need my middle oil game at some point Wednesday night, this was encouraging.

Nov. 2 practice

I chose a Tuesday afternoon to practice this time instead of the usual Monday because of the greater availability of lanes with the house shot (which Rob told me has been modified a little from the “stock” Bourbon Street pattern). I used the greater part of the practice to work on my loft game, as that’s what the lanes seem to require of me right now. I’m not quite “there” yet, but with the last 2 games in the 180s, I think I’m getting better and more consistent at lofting the ball.

Oct. 4 practice

I had a bad first game today, in which I didn’t break 130, but, as it turned out, I could chalk that up to feeling out the lane, as my other two games were both over 210, and I had a 231 middle game. My timing continues to feel “right,” and the ball feels great coming off my hand. I’ve seen a need to shore up my spare shooting, and I made the single 10 more than I missed it today (missed it once out of three or four tries), so I could take that out of the practice, as well.

Sept. 20 practice

My practice routine has had to change, as bowling on Monday is no longer half-price from opening to 5 PM. It has been replaced with a $2.25/game weekday morning rate (before 1 PM), so, though I’ll continue to bowl on Mondays, it will be in the morning, with me catching the 10 AM bus up.

Tony (Attardo) was finishing up his practice when I started, and he happened to pick up on a timing issue: I was getting the ball into its swing too late, causing me to drop it behind the foul line at release. The rest of the practice concentrated on me starting the ball on my third step. When my timing felt good, I generally had better shots, as it turned out, and I picked up a four-bagger by the end of it. Of course, I hope the session carries over into Wednesday night.

Sept. 13 practice

As I seemed to be having trouble handling transition last week in league, today I did a little drill I made up that simulated a whole night. First game, I used my baseline 30/10 shot, 2nd game I moved in to 33 looking around 11 or 12, and the third game was a move in to 36 looking around 13. It actually seemed I got better as I moved in, as I struggled with a 151 first game, but then had a 210 second game and a 220 third game (each of the latter two with only one open frame). I also got my spare game with my repolished spare ball figured out, and that also improved with each game. Now I just hope this carries into Wednesday night. 😀

Aug. 30 practice

When I got in the door for practice today, I noticed Rob with the lane machine out, so I figured something was being tested, so I asked, and it was testing of this year’s Coke Classic shot. When I got around to asking about the house shot for the fall, I was notified that one of the new Kegel Navigation patterns, called “Bourbon Street” (click link for pattern chart), which is a 40′ shot w/ about 23.5 mL total oil and a ratio of something less than 8:1, was being tested for use as the “house shot”.

The characteristics of Bourbon Street are that the pattern is drier with a bit more room on the outside, so I was trying some lines in practice, and found, through trial and error, that lining up on 33 looking 10 or 11 at the arrows with my Fast gave me my best chance at the pocket as long as my speed was reasonable and not much axis rotation was used. I struggled for two games, but lined up a turkey in the last game, which was the point where I found my best line. If I can repeat my later shots, I stand a chance of doing well this winter.

Aug. 9 practice

Today, I figured out something about the current house shot: that it needed less axis rotation. The ball would hook too much if I threw my normal shot, but the hook would tame if I held the ball more on the fingers closer to the thumb. I had a shot at a 170 triplicate going into the third game, but my scoring fell off from that due to fatigue (I was also bowling fast and didn’t take much time between shots.). I did throw enough strikes to satisfy myself, however.

Aug. 2 practice

I had a really up and down practice session today, in large part because I was sometimes trying to give the Fast too much room and a few shots went into the gutter, as a result. I was also largely missing spares, but when I did make good shots on first ball, I generally got strikes, so my scores typically stayed middle-of-the-road. I was hoping to catch my winter teammate Carl driving the bus home, but the man who was driving the bus I got on said Carl was on vacation, so I’ll have to wait to talk to him.

July 26 practice

I spent a good deal of my practice time today working on straightening out my spare ball shot. Before, I had thrown it with my normal release and, even with the ball drilled to go straight, it would hook a little. Where said hook hurts me on corner pins, I concentrated mostly (after my first ball) on shooting any corner pins I was left with by using a release where I’d hold it almost like I was throwing a back-up ball, and coming up the back of the ball in the release. While I missed a couple, I was improving to the point where I made a dead straight shot at the 7, standing on 9 and going over third arrow, toward the end of the session. Tomorrow’s plans include a visit to the pro shop, but only if something else falls into place.

July 19 practice

To sum up my practice today, I left the bowling center after it feeling better about my bowling than I have in some time. The first game was actually pretty bad, as I struggled to find my groove, but the other two games were 208 and 224, with one open in each, and I made a 7-8 and a 3-10 in the second game to keep that game clean until the 10th frame, when I left one wide to leave the bucket plus 7 pin. I concentrated on keeping the elbow in again, and I’m starting to see the work pay off with some good games. I’m very much looking forward to Wednesday night.

July 12 practice

There was nothing too special about practice today. I had one bad game to start, but threw better shots in the other two; however, I noticed in the third game that though my ball was making it to the pocket, it was having trouble revving up and, as a result, hit rather weakly, leaving a good number of flat 10s. I may need to develop more revs, so that’s something I should ask Ray about (and I’m close to resuming lessons with him again).

June 28 practice

“CoachJim” thought my splits in the last game Wednesday night could’ve been avoided by switching to a weaker ball, and, since I thought (or had thought, anyway) my High Voltage was the weaker of my two main balls, I used most of practice today to do some arsenal evaluation to see if that, indeed, was the case. In the first two games, I concentrated on throwing both of my balls, and I actually ended up pulling the High Voltage more, so it was hard to get a read on the relative strength of the two balls. There was a point in the second game, however, that I did what I wanted to: I threw both balls (one first, then the other) with the same shot to the same line…and crushed the pocket both times. I have to say there’s not really much difference between the two balls now, though my friend Tom (whom I’ve mentioned previously on this blog in connection to the local youth bowling scene) told me you notice the differences more on a tougher shot rather than a THS (typical house shot). Still, I may think of having the High Voltage redrilled weaker if I can.

In the game I bowled for score, I used the Hy-Road exclusively, and only missed a baby split en route to a 194.

June 21 practice

My thought going into practice today was to check on timing, and, as “CoachJim” hinted at, it may have been a bit off. However, a few shots into the practice, I also noticed that I was “chicken-winging” it a bit, so I also had to focus on keeping my elbow in, and, when I did, I had better shots overall. For scores, I had a couple of games in the 190s, so I’ll consider the session productive and make the elbow a “point of emphasis” Wednesday night during league.

June 14 practice

I may have learned an important lesson online toward the end of last week when I was told that heat and humidity can cause a lane to play drier even though it has the same oil pattern (including amount) and oil. Thus, a strong ball like my Hy-Road can burn up sooner and actually cause less overall hook, which may explain why I haven’t been getting to the pocket strong.

With that in mind, and also keeping in mind that I had a 197 summer average two years ago using the High Voltage exclusively, I tried the High Voltage in practice today and found that I definitely liked it better than the Hy-Road. This may suggest that I put away the Hy-Road for the summer, but my online friends also reminded me to not be “married” to a particular ball, and to use whatever works. As for how the practice went, I had a 403 after two games, but my game fell apart in the third game after starting with a conversion of the 6-7-9, which may have gotten me too pumped up.

Opening night note: I neglected to mention in my post about the first night of this summer league that I converted the 4-6-7 during warmups, which may have been the most difficult split I’ve ever converted. I only wish I could make it when it counts. 😆

June 7 practice

After being in quite a funk during league last Wednesday, I was looking forward to practicing today, and it did the trick, as I felt better about my bowling overall than I did last week. I made better shots overall, and was given plenty of opportunities to practice the 7 (my weak corner, if you’ll remember), as I left it four times and made all of them, and also picked the 7 out of the “Big 4” (4-6-7-10) at the end of the second game.

May 24 practice

I hit the practice lanes today to shake about 2 weeks of rust off before the start of summer league on Wednesday night, and it showed. I couldn’t string anything, as I had no doubles, but the lack of strikes allowed me to concentrate on my spare game. I missed a couple of single 7s, a pin which always seemed to want to stand today, on shots that just hopped in the gutter at the last moment. I felt pleased on the 7s I did make, though…now if I could only repeat those shots when I get the pin…

May 3 practice

How fickle can the game of bowling be? Last week, as I posted, I practiced my shot standing on the 35 board by choice and generally struggled; today, I had to practice the same shot again because the lane condition dictated it, but did OK. I think I got my speed on the shot down in the last game and had a one-open 196.

Another thing I tried is that when I left a 4 and/or a 7, I used the Hy-Road going straight up something like 23 or 24 and let the ball hook into the pin(s). I had noticed myself pulling the ball quite a bit going cross-lane at those pins with my spare ball, and I hope this new approach will allow me to make more of my pins on that side, and will be something I’ll practice more during the summer.

Apr. 26 practice

Today, I decided to try to practice my shot standing on the 35 board, but I didn’t have a very good practice: when I hit my mark, I was too fast and the ball didn’t finish, and when I slowed down, I pulled it and missed my mark. It just seemed like one of those days where nothing was going right, so I hope I forget about it between now and Wednesday night.

Apr. 20 practice

I wanted to practice before league this week, but with Westgate Lanes charging holiday rate yesterday (the Patriots’ Day state holiday), I didn’t want to tap out one of my gift cards. Having a ticket for three free games that was originally given to my sister during the Christmas gift card promotion, I did make it down there today and used the ticket.

In practice, I continued to work on swing tempo, but I combined it later with playing a deeper inside line (standing on 35). When I did that, however, I was having problems getting the ball to finish (thus, leaving stuff like buckets), so there may be something I need to learn to do better. I plan to ask the chat crew about that tomorrow.

Apr. 12 practice

Today’s practice was more work on slowing down my swing tempo, but I had more mixed results today, with me getting my share of bucket-type leaves in the middle of the session. I was more successful later in the third game, but I still had 2 open frames near the start, so I only shot 192 despite two doubles.

Also, in the third game, when I left a 10 pin, I experimented with standing to the extreme left of the lane and tried to go over the 20 board (middle arrow), on the theory that this will allow me a bit more margin for error on the 10 pin. I liked the result, as going over 20 board @ the arrows allowed my plastic ball to stay in the oil longer, thus not really giving it a chance to hook past the 10. This is something I may try in league on Wednesday night.

Apr. 5 practice

Admittedly, I haven’t bowled for reason of pure practice in months, but I went in today to work on some swing tempo issues I felt I’ve been having. I got progressively better at slowing my tempo down, to the point where I had a nice, clean 243 in my last game. I just hope this carries over to league on Wednesday night. 😀

Jan. 25 practice

Today, I had my (becoming) usual pre-tournament practice session with Rob, but, as is unusual, I decided not to take practice on the tough shot and instead focused on getting my house shot game in order with the recent change to the shot. I concentrated on playing a tighter inside line with the Hy-Road, but was having mixed results, mostly due to not having my speed control “down” on the line yet. Rob, for his part, had a third game in the 250s, but he plays more down-and-in than I do, so he may have had a better “look” at the pocket than me.

Tournament note: The annual Brockton, Foxvale, and Tri-City mixed doubles tournament is scheduled for Feb. 27 and 28 at Westgate Lanes. Entries close on Feb. 11.

Dec. 21 practice

This post is a bit late because I was meeting my brother at Westgate Lanes after practice to meet up with my sister and her family for my nephew’s birthday, but I contemplated not making this post at all because of a pedestrian performance. I did want to note, however, that the sister of one of my closer friends showed up with her kids, including a son that I guessed was around age 3. The son seemed to like bowling, so, when the opportunity arose, I plugged Westgate Lanes’ youth program to his mother for when he gets older, and also mentioned that there’s a pee-wee league where the emphasis is more on fun than developing bowling skill.

On the “Beaten Path”

With something of an expectation that the Monday night shot (which changed to the Kegel “Beaten Path” pattern this week) should be out for the People’s Tournament this weekend, I met Rob today for practice. I struggled with the first two games in the 130s as I tried to make sense of my ball reaction on an unfamiliar pattern. I eventually got fairly good results standing around 30 and trying to go around third arrow (15 board) while coming up the back of the ball, and had a game in the 170s to end it.

However, I learned that what was out there tonight may not necessarily be what’s out for the tournament. Talking to Junior after bowling, he suggested that he might use what the Tuesday night scratch league is on, which, I believe, is currently “Boardwalk”. I’m attempting to confirm this with Sam Belton (who bowls in that league), but, in any case, those of you who are friends of mine on Facebook may want to check my status Sunday morning when I know for sure what’s out there.

Nov. 23 practice session

I haven’t had a full practice session since the October People’s Tournament, so I decided to hit the practice lanes today. Randy Pederson had a useful “Quick Tip” in yesterday’s PBA telecast, so that’s part of what I was working on. After a semi-mediocre first game, I had 2 decent games, so I would consider the session productive.

My friend Ralph happened to show up while I was in the early stages of my first game, but he was there to give a lesson to his wife, Susan. We discussed a possibility where, if it pans out, I’ll be making another post either tonight or tomorrow.

After bowling, I spotted Rob, the lane mechanic, at the front desk and asked him if he knew how long the house shot was. He told me that they changed the house shot this season, and, instead of a custom pattern, they’re using the Kegel “High Street” pattern. I would link the pattern data on the Kegel site, but the site was having problems at press time, so I’ll post the pattern graph and comment on it in a future post.

Tournament prep

As both Rob Dickens and I will be bowling the People’s Tournament Sunday, we made arrangements last week to meet up today to bowl on the oil pattern that will be out (as the Coke Classic League uses it). I had wondered how I’d do because I thought I’d still be in the recovery process from the class reunion over the weekend. I thought I did OK, however: the first game wasn’t spectacular, but I beat Rob in that game because I made more spares than he did (and spares are usually important on this shot). The second game was forgettable because I was making varied mistakes on the first ball and leaving tough spares, but I did recover to post a clean 203 game in the last one, which should give me some confidence for Sunday.

Bowling camp postponed: The bowling camp that was to be held on November 14 and 15 at Wonder Bowl in New Bedford has been tentatively postponed until April 2010. I’ll pass along the new dates when that information becomes available.

Getting caught up

The computer I usually use to post to my blog had a motherboard failure over the weekend, so my computer access has been sporadic. I shall use this post to combine a few things into one post, and my usual league night recap may be delayed until the weekend.

Administrivia: Because of my lack of computer access, the “Cross-training” feature has been suspended until I get my new computer. You may not miss it, however, as this is generally a slow time for off-field activities in baseball and football, and with basketball and hockey training camps and/or pre-season just getting underway.

League standings update: “The Flintstones” are in a jam-up at second place, getting the #2 spot on account of pinfall, three points behind “4 MTD,” a team which includes my summer teammates, Rob and Bonnie. My team faces “Butz-N-Guts,” Shawn’s team, tomorrow night.

Monday practice: With nothing much better to do, I had a practice session yesterday, and I considered it time well-spent, as I averaged 11 pins/game over my current league average on the strength of a 228 first game. I didn’t really care about scores, however, as I just wanted to make good, consistent shots. Moving into the hold area around the second game, I found I needed to watch my speed or the ball would shoot past the break point and either miss the pocket (usually a washout) or go light and leave something like a bucket. I still had 179-ish games, however, which should’ve been better had I not missed spares.

Notes from Aug. 31 practice

The weather was actually comfortable enough for me to bike it to the lanes today, so I took the opportunity to head there to get some practice in. I had a slow start (167), but then had a second game with five in a row for a 222, followed by a 203 final game. I used the Hy-Road in all three games again, so I think I’m becoming more comfortable using that ball.

Lane man’s new “toy”: As I was finishing up, Rob Lawson, the lane mechanic, brought out his new “toy,” a Kegel Kustodian Ion lane machine. As Rob told me the machine had 30 patterns preloaded on the machine, I’m assuming they got the “Sport” upgrade. This machine should increase the variety of patterns the house is able to put out, probably including the PBA ones. “Junior” told me about something he’s thinking about related to the new lane machine, but I think I’ll play his thoughts close to the vest until he actually decides to do it.

Westgate Lanes 50th anniversary celebration: I haven’t noted this until now, but Westgate Lanes will be celebrating their 50th anniversary on Sept. 11. On that day, bowling will be just 50¢/game, and shoe rental will be 50¢, with this special running all day. Also on that day, The Cavaliers and Mudslide will be playing in the pub starting at 5 PM. I’m certainly going to be there at least part of the day, so I hope to see some of you. 😀