Last week while I was helping at Bowl Expo in Dallas, I borrowed a car to head back to my hotel and then meet the team at a cocktail party. So bad at remembering directions from relying on my little navigation box, I needed to write them out so I wouldn't get lost. Seemed odd that 3 or 4 directions would be tough to memorize but I was in a town I've never been in, in a car I haven't driven so I was a touch apprehensive. Long story short, the directions were painfully easy and I felt embarrassed to not just memorize them in the first place. Lack of confidence I guess.
This past weekend, I was at a barbecue up in Mahopac, NY. Off Route 6, the house was 5 or 6 turns deep off the main drag. The GPS took me right to the front door but when I left, it was cloudy, overcast and getting dark. I jumped in the car and plugged in the pro shop, "searching for satellites." I put the car in gear and went down the street. Looked straight and right, remembered I had made the left so I turned right. Down that road I looked at the GPS but it was still not functioning. At the next block, I looked left and right. Thinking right, I turned and down that road I went. Quarter mile, another left and straight for a half mile. Full stop. Spent a second or two and made the right. Now the GPS has locked in and I found myself less than a block away heading straight for route 6. I felt happy and proud of myself for finding my way out without help.
Having decent instincts for bowling is exactly the same. We can easily fall into the trap of expectations, doubt, fear and apprehensiveness especially on challenging lane conditions. What we want are trust and confidence to make good shots. When conditions change, we need to change with them. Some choices are easy; others can be very hard. On occasion, it's a ball change while others it's a move. Perhaps it's a giant leap with speed and a hand change; now that's a super savvy adjustment! Bottom line is you have to develop instincts to find proper ball motion and maintain it. You can't expect someone to always be there to make the choices for you. They just might be incorrect and guide you down the wrong road. YOU have to create a feel for the sport, make good choices and execute.
I watch many of you bowl hundreds of games a year. Part of the time, I'm monitoring your timing and mechanics. But what I'm also looking at is ball motion; your ball choice, speed, rotation and alignment. It's when you're struggling that I really try and paying attention. What you're creating or worse, why you may have settled. Don't get me wrong, the best bowlers in the world make mistakes. I certainly make mistakes; judge ball motion wrong or paint ourselves into a corner where we have to throw it absolutely perfect or drive down the road to ruin. We all will fall into this trap from time to time. It's learning from our choices so that we adjust quicker next time. Learn from those mistakes so we don't do them over again.
What can't ever happen when your "GPS" isn't working, is pulling over to the curb and parking. In bowling, that's not moving, not changing and letting the bricks fall on you because you're afraid. That's totally unacceptable. Fear is the enemy here and you can't let that happen. Breathe. Take a step back and look at the situation. Quiet your mind and process the problem. You can always look at the traffic on your pair and try emulating whomever is succeeding. Look left and right for someone who seems to have a good motion. Think. Decide. Commit.
A great deal of the fun in this sport is finding your way out of the weeds so keep practicing your instincts. Adopt a philosophy where you never give up; never get angry and maintaining your composure. It's so gratifying when you figure it out for yourself.