It’s Been A While League Report 4

Image courtesy of Chris Barbee of Bowling Ball Yard Art

It’s been a while since I last posted. The reason is my very poor performance in the bowling league. I seem to be getting worse each week. My three game series scores for weeks 4 through 6 are 255, 271 and 297. Now that is bloody awful. We bowled against people who had similar scores in a single game! The negativity enveloped me. I couldn’t make myself write. Then to top it off, I hurt my back. I was whining so much my husband developed a sudden interest in the World Cup.

In the depths of my despair I did look online for help. Why do I bowl better sometimes? Why can’t I always perform at my best? Answer: I need to focus. “Focus” is a magic word. There are thousands of books on this subject. There are hundreds of coaches who sell their method to learn to focus in competition. There are tricks to use to get it and to keep it. If you have it, every game will be your best. Forget the world and just FOCUS dammit.

Even if I somehow get the focus thing down, though, it won’t be enough. I need lessons and advice. With that in mind I tried something. I wrote a letter to a bowling coach I had heard about. I asked the coach if there was a book or video that could help me. The coach responded. That alone was a shock. There was a good chance I would not hear a word. But I got a response! Sorry. No video. No book. But if I videotape myself bowling, the coach will review the tape and give me advice! Holy Cow. I can hardly wait. Video sessions are now on calendar.

In the meantime I tried to be more cheerful. I can’t lose heart now. It’s a whole year until the 2019 championships. Lo and behold my 7th week scores were great . . .well, good . . . well,  better. My high game was 129 and I had a 341 series. Woohoo.

Update:

My 8th week score was not terrible. My high game was 144 and the series was 311.

My League Play Was Another Bust. League Report 3

My league play was another bust. One game under 100 and two slightly over. I didn’t even photograph the score to remember the detail for the League Report. I was that disheartened. I almost didn’t do this post out of shame. But then I remembered what old Jack Burton says when faced with the impossible. He says, “What the hell.”

I decided to do some work to try to figure out how to improve my game. I can’t keep doing the “once more unto the breach” stuff. Just having the guts to do poorly is missing the point. I watched a dozen or more YouTube videos. There are lots of helpers out there, and lots of contradictory advise. This guy makes sense. I’ll try his method next time.

While browsing the internet, though, I came across a lot of fun bowling stuff. Did you know that there are hidden oil patterns on the lane – patterns that are deliberately put there by the oiling machines. You can use them to your advantage if you know they’re there.

And this is a pinsetter machine. They’ve only had these for 60 years or so. I went behind the lanes with the manager of our alley and these are the machines they use. They are remarkable – and loud.

If you want to know the layout of the lanes and the pins, the distance between the foul line and the head pin and the rest, this drawing  and this lays it out (puns are low humor, I know). Each pin is 12 inches from the neighboring pins.

Do you want to know how a bowling pin is made today? It’s not simple. It has changed many times over the years, too, in response to new technology. This is brief history. Each pin is 15 inches tall and weighs about three-and-a-half pounds.

This is how a hook bowling ball is made. This video is from Ebonite.  Really interesting. Apparently the hook balls, balls that are weighted off center, weren’t even introduced until the 1990’s. This is more on the evolution of bowling balls.

Next time.

Sunday Bowling is a Hoot

Image courtesy of Chris Barbee of Bowling Ball Yard Art

 

Sunday bowling is a hoot. The alley was packed when we got there yesterday. There was the usual Sunday senior league. And I mean senior. They take their walkers to the foul line and someone hands them the ball. But there were also several parties.

There was a costume party going on. Adult men in wild outfits. There was a rather large bride, a not too religious-looking nun and someone who was, well, I don’t know what he was, but his face was blue, his hair was yellow and his coat was hot pink faux fur.

There were several birthday parties. The alley had rented three stacks of giant speakers and placed them near the front desk. The music was blasting out.

Despacito. This is how we do it down in Puerto Rico.

We had to scream to be heard.

DO YOU HAVE A LANE?
YES BUT IT’S NEXT TO A KID’S BIRTHDAY PARTY.
THAT’S OKAY.

Kid’s birthday parties at bowling alleys are all the same. 15 to 20 children all running around screaming and scarfing down cake and pizza and fried whatever. All the lanes have bumpers up. The kids are throwing six pound balls as hard as they could straight into the bumpers. The balls zig zag down the lanes. The chance of hitting any pins is purely coincidental. Their parents are seated behind the lanes drinking alcohol and totally ignoring their offspring.

And of course that means that we are directing the kids. “You can’t stand there.” “Move out of my lane.” “No, you can’t use my ball.” More than once I’ve looked up to see my ball rolling down someone else’s lane. I get it. My ball is a lot better looking than the alley balls. That’s the one I would want, too. And it’s funny because my ball is lot heavier than theirs and they really have to struggle to lift it, but they do it somehow.

I’ve noticed over the years that bowling etiquette is not often taught. People bring their kids because the kids can’t break anything, they can yell as loud as they want to and it looks like exercise. The ones who do teach the rules are themselves bowlers and are passing along the love of the game.

Bowling etiquette is very real. You don’t stand in anyone else’s lane. You stay on your side of the bowling ball rack. Most important, when a bowler is making his approach to throw the ball, the bowlers to either side must stand back and let him complete his throw. The bowler should not be able to see any movement out of the corner of his eye to his immediate right or left.

But if you need to have those rules followed in order to enjoy yourself, don’t go bowling on a Sunday. Because Sunday bowling is a hoot.

Think about the Numbers League Report 2

Second league night: 106 104 106. A 316 series. Disappointing. I had even “practiced” beforehand. I know now it is “practicing.” Before league started, I just called it bowling. But a friend of mine is a lifetime leaguer and he corrected me. When I came up with this idea of competing in a national bowling tournament, I started bowling a lot and told him so. Him: “Which league did you join?” Me: “We aren’t in a league.” Him: “Oh, so you’re just practicing.”

So, yes, we practiced and weren’t so bad, but on league night it was another ho-hum event. It shouldn’t matter. After all, it is my lack of athleticism that led me here, i.e. to a sanctioned league (one in which a handicap is established) and this blog. It shouldn’t matter, but it does.

On the plus side, I have a 76 pin handicap which should help the team. Still, I read the official report of the first day of our league and it is daunting. Someone bowled a 299 game.

I went through the numbers. There is only one way to get to a 299 game. I checked it out on an online bowling calculator. Here’s the link. It’s interesting to see how the numbers play out.

He bowled a strike in the first nine frames. Then in the tenth frame, he bowled two more strikes but got a nine on his last throw. In other words, he bowled 11 strikes in a row and missed the 12th strike needed for a perfect score by just one pin in the last frame on his last throw. That’s the only way it can be done.

If he had had that nine in any other frame, it would not have been a 299. In fact, his score (assuming his first throw is a 9 and his second throw is a miss) would be 278, 268 for the 1st and 2nd frames and then 267 for the 3rd through 10th frames.

In fact, if he had hit nine pins on his first throw in the 10th frame, he still wouldn’t have a 299. Assuming he did knock down the last pin on his second throw for a spare, and then got a strike on his third and final throw, his score would have been a 279. There you go. There’s only one way to get a 299. It had to be two strikes in the 10th frame and then a nine on the third and final throw.

That’s what my team is up against.

They’re serious about this. League Report 1

That was my first impression of my first night of league. My four member team along with all the other teams gathered in a room near the lanes and elected – really – a president, vice president and secretary. There was no competition for the jobs. It seemed like most of the people knew each other. They certainly knew the officers of the past leagues. It was basically election by acclamation.

The president then read the rules – two legal size pages single spaced. I’m going to get a copy of those rules. There was a brief discussion of good bowling manners most of which condemned walking in other bowlers’ lanes. Very distracting don’t you know. I would have added that unsolicited advice is never welcome, but no one asked me.

Someone asked to add $7 per person to the cost of the league to pay the secretary. The motion was seconded and carried. I’m guessing that job is keeping track of the players and the handicaps – tedious work and well worth the money. Another person asked to increase the league cost from $16 to $18 per bowler per week. That also carried easily. I think they wanted the money for the prizes to the top teams. Who knew? There’s a prize!

So, we had rules and voting and motions made and carried. It was serious stuff.

This league we picked is the handicap league. I need to be in a sanctioned handicap league in order to qualify to join the United States Bowling Congress (USBC). I need to join the USBC to compete at the Nationals. This league is a team league. My team has four members who have committed to bowl every Monday (except Memorial Day) from May 14 to August 27.

Every Monday we bowl three games starting at 6:00 p.m. Why three games? Bowling – tournament bowling – is the total score in a “series.” A series is three games in a row.

We were assigned lanes and given 15 minutes to practice. I didn’t practice. I’m always afraid that my practice ball will be my only strike. So, we bowled. My score was a dismal at 96, 105, 116 – a 317 series. To put that in perspective, one of the players in the team next to us had 245 in a single game. But that makes my handicap useful to the team. Next week I’ll take those practice shots. Lord, I hope they don’t have a worst player award at the end.

Team Report:

We have two good bowlers so far, one 428 series and one 423 series. We have one bowler who hates his ball and is going to buy shoes instead of rent next time. We were stylin’ for our opening day in plaid, a Polska Tee and a genuine bowling shirt.

It’s time to pull the trigger

Let’s go. It’s time to get going on this blog. Tomorrow I start league play for the very first time. I need to be in a league to get a handicap. I need a handicap in order to be able to enter the bowling tournament next year – 2019. So, this is where my blog begins.

I have spent a few years just getting to the point where I am comfortable joining a league. Although it was always about fun, it is also about a level of ability that was frankly not completely embarrassing. So, now I can bowl sufficiently well so that I am not a total duffus. I’ve become a pretty good bad bowler – meaning I’m good enough now to miss the spares by just a little instead of guttering all the time. But I’m still bad in that I don’t make enough spares and strikes to get my scores over 120 that often.

This game is all about spares and strikes. It doesn’t matter whether you gutter or bowl nine pins in every frame. Nine out of ten for ten frames may seem pretty good, but it is only a 90, just 90 out of 300 and that’s not good.

I’ve also gotten the equipment right. I have three balls. I tried the plastic ball then a mid-performance ball and now I have a very nice high performance ball. I’m still learning to use it correctly, but I know at least, that a low score was not because I don’t have good equipment. It is just me.

So, here we go.