Score better, win more, guaranteed
Every league bowler wants to Score Higher and get more Money at the end of the year or in tournaments no matter what they average. Some bowlers are very physically talented, some will buy the latest and greatest equipment, while other bowlers put in a lot of work to try to accomplish this. All of these bowlers, however, seem to hit a point at some time or another where they don’t feel like they’re getting any better, or are frustrated at their inconsistency. Some will even feel like they’ve already peaked, that their average that’s been the same for the last several years is all they’re capable of. However, by paying a bit of attention, and employing some strategy, you may find yourself even exceeding your expectations.
The single most important thing to me is managing the lane condition. House shots are usually very easy to start out with, but as the oil gets picked up or moved around by the ball, the conditions change and the probability of the shot getting even easier is virtually non-existent. I always try to use shiny or very high grit surfaces (pearl, polished, or 4000 abralon) to leave as much oil on the lanes as possible. Some shots can be very dry, and some can be very oily. I try to address this by the strength of the layout and the equipment rather than the strength of the surface. Burning a track in the middle of a wet house shot can be a nightmare, as eventually you will burn your heads enough that you can’t stay on top of the track you’ve created and will have to move. However, on a flatter shot or a sport condition, burning up the oil towards the outside of the lane is a necessity to give yourself more room, provided that you aren’t in a format that requires you to move lanes after each game.
Pay attention to where the other bowlers are throwing the ball. This will help you to avoid where they are playing, as they may not think or care about what they’re doing to the lane. This INCLUDES paying attention to what is going on with pairs that you will be moving to in tournaments with the above mentioned formats. On wetter conditions, they can make it very spotty, and on drier conditions they could dry it up even more. Even if you don’t view yourself as a very versatile bowler, playing where the condition is freshest will still give you better reaction than trying to play through several others’ track burn and carrydown.
Bowl smart. That means playing the area of the lane where you have the most miss room. Nobody likes to strike on bad shots or win because of a break, but it’s a good strategy. You don’t want to put yourself in an area of the lane where you have to make near perfect shots every time. Whether anyone else admits it or is consciously trying to do it, their head will automatically try to make them as comfortable as possible with how they’re throwing the ball and where they’re throwing it. This is commonly referred to as someone’s “A” game, or their wheelhouse. You want to be versatile of course, but versatility is simply improving your weaknesses or being able to be more successful in more areas than your opponent when the conditions get tough. Everyone, the pros especially, will ALWAYS play their “A” game given the opportunity, so don’t be afraid to do what you do best. You may not impress anyone doing it, but that’s not the name of the game.
Analyze your situation before you start chasing carry. It’s definitely frustrating to leave the same pin repeatedly, and it may seem like it’s not smart to continue playing the same area of the lane knowing that the possibility of continuing to leave the certain pin is high. Sometimes, however, when the conditions get tough, leaving an easily makeable single pin spare is much better than putting yourself in danger of splits or tough spares trying to move around and strike. If you know you can move or make a small adjustment with zero risk, by all means do it, the ability to make adjustments is an important skill. However, this should always be paired with the topic of the previous paragraph. Making an adjustment can be for several different reasons, trying to strike is only one of them. An adjustment to simply hit the pocket, pick up easy spares, and take the strikes when you get them on a tough condition or low scoring environment can a much better decision than an ill-advised attempt at carrying more strikes if you know there’s an increased chance of splits, provided you aren’t in desperate need of strikes to win a match, of course.
I hope this has given you some different ways to consider improving your game. Maybe you don’t have the time or money to practice as much as you’d like or buy new equipment every year, but your mental game and strategy can often be just as or more important than those things. You may not win ‘em all, but you’ll definitely find yourself in the thick of the competition on a much more frequent basis. Good luck and good bowling!