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Mini Bowling Tips

Coaches' Corner SUSIE MINSHEW
Articles Mini Bowling Tips
Here are some gems I have gleaned from coaching, being coached, bowling, and my wonderful clients.> Please keep this in mind your entire bowling life. Every shot you have ever thrown is in your head. Every shot you have ever seen anyone else throw is in your head. Every shot you have ever seen on television is in your head. Those thousands and thousands of shots are quite an inventory. They are a wealth of information for you. With all of that experience in your head, how can you ever doubt a move that you decide to make?> Your game is constantly evolving. It will not stay the same and it won't always be sharp. Just when you think you don't have another 134 game left in you, out it comes. Peak performance levels are cyclical. Bowling great doesn't last forever and neither does a slump.> It's almost impossible to hit your target if you're not looking at it. Additionally, if you're not looking at it and you hit it, how will you know? Since you shouldn't make an adjustment unless you've thrown the ball pretty much like you wanted to and hit what you wanted to hit, you'll also not make a good adjustment. There may be something that will screw you up worse than adjusting off a bad shot, but I can't think what it might be.> If it's difficult for you to watch your target until the ball rolls over it, try this. Think of your eyesight as a laser beam. Laser your target. Make it smoke! You'll be surprised how much easier it is to hit when you're looking at it! It has probably happened to you that you are looking at your target and on the way to the foul line it just seems to blur out and you don't know if you hit it or not. Lasering will reduce this phenomenon. It will also help eliminate the tendency to pull your eyes off the target as soon as you let the ball go. Don't laser the second arrow. Laser the right edge of the base of it.

> Now we're going to make a MENTAL trip to the office supply store. Go to the section that has all kinds of labels. You will find a package of 2" circular labels in your favorite color - neon pink, purple, bright red, whatever it might be. Buy the package and put it in your ball bag. Anytime you have difficulty seeing your target, when the glare of synthetics is too much, or there's no dark board in the midlane, just pull one of these labels out and mentally put it wherever you're looking. Laser that dot. You'll be amazed how well you can see it!

> If you're one of those folks who bend your elbow too early in the follow through or would like to project the ball further down the lane on certain conditions, try this. Hold your arm down by your side. You'll see a crease on the inside of your elbow where the elbow bends. Think of leading the shot (your hand and ball) with this part of your elbow. You cannot biomechanically do this, of course, unless your elbow bends the opposite way of everyone else's! What's important is that you think lead with your elbow. Just feel like you are trying to have this crease of your elbow leading your hand toward the target. It will be very difficult to bend your elbow if the crease is going toward the target!

> Once you've found your strike line, don't line up for your perfect strike shot. You're not perfect, why line up like you are? Try moving one board left with your feet. Yes, I really mean it. Line up left of perfect. That way you'll have room to be a little light and maybe even miss slightly right. Either way you're probably still in the hole and if you don't carry, you'll most likely leave yourself a makeable spare.

> When does the ball begin its motion? At the same time as your first step? Just before? Just after? If you get to the foul line leveraged and in balance and can deliver the ball the way you want, it doesn't matter how you start. What matters is that you KNOW how you start since that is what enables you to have such a good finish. Things that are wrong at the foul line seldom go wrong at the foul line. Something in your delivery process causes it to be wrong at the foul line. Start at the beginning to fix it. This is true regardless of where it FEELS like it went wrong. Something wrong in the middle of your approach is usually compensating for whatever was wrong in the beginning. Get a bad start and you spend the rest of the approach trying to make up for it.

> Your first step is the most important one you take. Don't ignore it or take it for granted. Learn exactly what you do with this first step. When you get in trouble or don't feel quite right, start here with your fix-it methodology. Perhaps you slide it and you've started being a little more heel-toe than normal. Maybe you are normally heel-toe but you've inexplicably started being much more heel-toe. Maybe you've unconsciously shortened it or lengthened the first step. Whatever the case, if you know what it does and what it feels like when it's right, you'll be able to fix it when it's wrong.

> You won't believe this tip but it works for a lot of different folks. If you're not sliding as much as you'd like and you are sure it's not the approaches or your shoes that are the problem, tighten the entire lace on your sliding shoe. If you're sliding too much, loosen it!

> A 'tight' shot can mean many things. Most of the time, we feel a shot is tight when the lanes are oily (thus the phrase 'the lanes are tight'). Actually, a shot is tight whenever you feel you don't have much room for error. When faced with this feeling or perception, try moving your bowling shoulder about 2º-3º forward; not both shoulders, not your body, not the ball in your stance - just your bowling shoulder. This will help you keep the ball on line and avoid leaking it further right than you intended and is not enough of a shoulder-closed position to cause you to pull the ball.

> To really improve your consistency, try this: close your eyes after your second step. Once you close your eyes the imprint on your mind will be of whatever you saw last - in other words, your target! It becomes your whole focus and you'll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to hit it. After you've let the ball go, open your eyes. You'll see the ball roll right over that target. When you are used to the feeling of closing your eyes and you accept you're not going to step off the edge of the flat earth, you'll be able to concentrate on other things. You can really FEEL your armswing or release or cadence or slide or power step or whatever you have chosen to concentrate on for that shot. A very eye-closing experience!

> Always pick up your ball from the ball return with both hands. Picking up your ball using your grip holes fatigues the hand unnecessarily and can cause excessive swelling.

> The difficult skills needed for bowling must be acquired through learning and continued practice over a long period of time. The mechanics of the sport are complex and diverse. Dedicated players will find they peak after several years and often find they are still improving after their "prime" athletic years. That's why bowling is truly a lifetime sport.

> Solid 8 pins, ringing 10 pins, and swishing 7-10's are just as much a part of the game as Brooklyn strikes, messenger pins or rolling the bucket for a strike. Don't get crazy over it! Over the long haul the player who makes the best shots will prevail. It's just that the 'long haul' is not always a league night...

> Always be ready to bowl when it is your turn. If you're not, it disturbs the rhythm and pacing of the game for everyone including those leagues which follow you. It is usually true that the longer in between shots, the more inconsistent you become. A good rule to follow is that when the pins are ready, so are you!

> Hold your position at the line until the ball leaves the pin deck. This does not mean that you should look like the Statue of Liberty but that all of your body is still after you have delivered the ball EXCEPT your bowling arm. It is swinging back and forth and will eventually stop without your help. If you're falling off your shots, you won't be completing them to the best of your ability because you get too concerned about not falling down and therefore cut your shot off short. Balance at the line is critical to a well-executed and consistent delivery. Several good things happen when you do this:

• You don't miss any of your great shots because you get to stay at the foul line and watch them.
• It builds the discipline of keeping your balance at the line and thus helping you make your shots repeatable.
• Pins tend to fall more when they feel your icy stare…

> You will often find a new strike line throwing your 2 pin or your 3 pin shot. Don't ignore your ball reaction in this part of the lane. It could be a real strike mine!

> Throwing a ball that is too light for you is just as hurtful to your game as throwing a ball that is too heavy. A ball which is too light will allow you to do things you shouldn't. A ball which is too heavy will prevent you from doing things you should. I don't think that '10% of your body weight' thing is valid. I believe that ball weight is determined by athleticism. If I have a 150 lb person who is 5 feet tall and a 150 lb person who is 6 feet tall, I have two very different individuals when it comes to athleticism and strength. 10% might work for one but not the other and no, they don't make 18 lb balls! For kids, some believe that the majority of the population can bowl their age - a seven-pound ball if they are seven years old or an 11-pound ball if they're 11 years old. Kids are too fragile for a formula, I think. I would consider their strength (hand, wrist, forearm, legs), their athleticism, goals, and other activities before I make any recommendation.

> Try to make your approach as smooth and fluid as possible - no roboty moves or herky-jerky looks. Don't walk like you are stepping over rose bushes! You also, however, cannot sacrifice form for results. There are no style points in bowling. It's just easier to do it more consistently if you keep it simple. The more moving parts you have, the more complicated the fix when something goes wrong.

> Don't start your approach like you're burning rubber from a stoplight. That first step should be smooth and easy and therefore simple to repeat. It is the most important step you take. Make sure it's right and the rest of the approach can just flow.

> It is usually best to line up in your starting stance with your sliding foot. It's the one that finishes at the foul line and therefore the important one in terms of body alignment. Make it a part of your pre-shot routine that when you step up on the approach to take your starting stance, you slide your sliding foot onto your starting board. If you have stepped in anything wet or have something on the bottom of your shoe, you want to know that now, not up at the foul line. If you don't get in this habit and do step in something, you might find yourself recovering consciousness out by the arrows! Don't take the chance of sticking at the foul line and hurting yourself (which you can do whether you fall or not).

> Your trailing leg is important as well. If you kick it with some vigor behind you, it can tend to open up your hips and causes you to face away from your objective. If it goes too far in the direction you moved it and you don't bend your sliding knee enough, you'll be forced to stand up at the foul line to avoid injuring your sliding knee, as it is not a rotating joint. It only bends, not rotates. Your trailing knee can be further laterally if your sliding knee is more bent. Otherwise, you could have that 'pretzel' look at the foul line!

> Keep your trailing foot on the ground. A good finish position would have your trailing knee behind your sliding knee and separated by 6"-8" at about a 45º angle to your body. This will provide you with a very stable and balanced position. If your trailing knee is closer to your sliding knee than that, it's difficult to keep your balance. Think of a tripod. With the legs together, it topples. Spread them apart a bit and your tripod becomes very stable. Spread them too far apart...

> More hook does not mean more strikes. You must have the proper angle, speed, and rotation to carry a strike. If any of these components is off by a millimeter, a 1/2 mph, or half a revolution, your carry percentage goes down. Don't be fooled into thinking more speed or more hook will do more to the pins.

> Replace your finger grips whenever they become worn. Some people do that about every 60 games and some much more often. When they are worn, they won't afford you that same good feel you had when they were new. Use yellow (the first color the human eye notices) or white or some light color that you can easily see rolling down the lane. This will help you to watch the roll of the ball and learn how different releases can affect ball roll and therefore pin action.

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