Anyone remember the movie, The Replacements? Shane Falco played a quarterback on a football team and at a meeting, the coach asked the players what they feared most? The best answer came from Shane:
"You're playing and you think everything is going fine. Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can't move... you can't breathe... because you're in over your head. Like quicksand."
As far as I can see, adjustment skills aren't practiced very much. Most people don't know how to practice them, or even what changes they could or should do. What we're talking about is the spice of bowling. To most, spice is merely salt and pepper if we make a comparison to cooking; salt would be your equipment and pepper would be the alignment. Move your feet or change balls. Too much salt and it tastes bad. Too much pepper, same thing. But seasoning to a chef is a endless combination of spices.
I remember a scene in an animated movie, "Ratatouille." One character was trying to teach the other about what things taste like together. The scene basically says that you eat two fairly ordinary foods together, they meld into a new tasty bite. That's the same as when you make adjustments. Most people change one thing and usually it's very small. You change the ball and stand in the same spot or keep the same ball in your hands and move a board or two. What happens is basically nothing. It's a pinch of salt into a gallon of sauce. If your reaction was horrible, do you think that another ball or a couple boards is going to give you a huge motion change? Sometimes. But lane conditions are constantly changing and you may not be changing fast enough. You need to be decisive, perhaps substantial. That takes focus, trust, confidence, and experience.
Since house conditions are usually consistent, they limit the changes you have to make to your game. Bowlers bring one or two balls to league, stand about the same place. look at the same target and throw it their usual way. Not much moving needed to find the area which provides your strikes. So like miniature golf, you've got error built into your game from those predictable lane conditions. It's when that shot breaks down and your ball reaction changes, that you must change as well. But what do you change? On challenge or sport conditions, this happens very early. Sometimes that bad feeling we talked about is there during practice. Maybe that's why more people aren't especially interested in tougher condition leagues because it quickly shows your short comings; your ability to adapt.
What I would like to do is write a series of articles which I call the What, Where and How's of bowling. They encapsulate the equipment, alignment and physical game characteristics that make changes to your ball motion. Everything you do to alter your ball reaction is in one of these three categories. As you read them, I want you to think about what you could do when you encounter your own quicksand. Practice those adjustments that interest you so they can open up new doors in your game. Think of it as a wake up call to complex moves so you can avoid those monster low scores.
It should go without saying that proper spare shooting techniques, that were covered in a previous article, should be mastered to the best of your abilities. After all, you're here because your scores are low and you probably just missed two or three make able spares along the way.
Bowling balls are basically divided into 4 categories from each of these characteristics:
Dull or Shiny and Arc or Snap.
Category 1 - Dull and Arc. This can be a Vital Sign, Pure Physics, Plague, 715T, or Prodigy. The surface has texture so the ball wants to skid less, roll earlier and react smoother in the backends.
Category 2 - Dull and Snap. This can be the Mission 2.0, Virtual Gravity, 920A or Swagga. These are duller balls designed to clear the front but have the power to make a strong move down the lane.
Category 3 - Shiny and Snap. This includes the Trap, Anarchy, 607A, Game On, Reign, Freeze or Vibe. These products want to skid longer saving most of their energy for down the lane and want to change directions quickly to enhance the angle toward the pocket.
Category 4 - Shiny and Arc. These would include the 300C, Game Plan, Burst, 2Fast or Curve Ball. These products clear the front part well but tend to be smoother down the lane.
By no means is this a complete list. There are dozens of excellent balls on the market. It's also important to mention that surface changes can move these products from one category to another. A shiny Mission 2.0 moves from the dull/snap to the shiny/snap category while taking a 607A and lightly sanding the surface will get it to skid less and move to the dull/snap category.
To have a balanced bag, a bowler should strive to have all their bases covered and limit multiple pieces built for the same category. It's so common these days for a bowler to want products that go long and want to flip strong but when conditions don't call for this motion, they're in trouble. In that bowling bag should also be a plastic ball. What are you going to shoot spares with?
Anyone a Jim Cramer fan? He's the investment guy on CNBC and on Wednesday he has a segment called, "Are you diversified?" Well, are you? I've included to the left and on the main page an image. Through that you can email me the top bowling balls in your bag and I'll make a recommendation on what you might change or what kind of piece you're missing.
So in terms of equipment, we need diversity to tackle different parts of the lane, hook at different distances and match up to changes in the lane conditions; that's balance and a big piece toward staying out of bowling's quicksand.
My next article will be on alignment and how you might attack lanes differently.