Let’s face it, Yoda was a smart . . whatever he was. Say what you want about the quality of the writing for the Star Wars movies, but Yoda has several of the best and truest one liners in cinema history. You could seemingly apply a Yoda quote to whatever situation you’re in, and it will open that door to get you out or fix whatever problem you’re faced with. The quote I’m using as inspiration for this article is, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” Over the last 15 years, bowling has gotten so complicated so quickly that it’s nearly impossible for even those of us in the industry to keep up. On top of that, we’ve also had to critically examine every thought and theory carefully to make sure it’s correct or even practical. I’ve literally spent hundreds of hours in the last few months delving as deeply as I dared into the most complicated and involved studies I could find to develop better discernment to avoid getting pulled this way or that by this new theory or that new practice and stay as close to the heart of the core concepts as possible.
If you have the time and desire, here is a challenge: Bowling Ball Motion Study If it’s too involved, over your head, or just too complicated, don’t worry, I’m going to break part of it down below. The basic premise here is that bowling is no more or no less complicated than it’s ever been. There have always been and will always be basic principles of physics that govern and control the interaction between the ball, lane, oil, and pins. There is nothing new, only different. The physics are the same, but sometimes they’re just arranged differently. The one and only concept that needs to be applied, however, is this: Once the ball leaves your hand, it is literally and figuratively out of your hands. There are several things you can do to increase the probability of a favorable result, but whether it feels like it or not, you realistically have ZERO control over what happens.
Let me explain. There are millions of variables in bowling, or things that all have an effect on what happens to produce any result. Several of these variables change between every single shot, things that you can’t see, can’t identify, and can’t judge. More importantly however, many of these things are outside human ability to consistently control, meaning that even if you did know exactly what changed and exactly how to combat it, even the most accurate bowlers on the planet wouldn’t be able to execute every detail. Did you know that the surface of your ball changes slightly on every single shot? The lane oil is moved or Removed slightly on every single shot. The pins are all sat down in slightly different positions every time. Even extremely accurate and consistent bowlers will have slight differences between each shot which will alter the transitions. The amount of luck required to bowl a strike is astronomical, but most of the time it doesn’t feel like it, it feels like you’re in complete control.
Bowler consistency and bowler accuracy has absolutely zero to do with the pins all falling down, it has to do with physics behaving. Bowling rules have been put in place to ensure that the physics are consistent as possible, or that bowler skill has as large of an influence as possible on score. You as the bowler can do as much as possible to try and meet the requirements needed to take advantage of that. Notice however that I’m saying “as possible” very frequently. Have you ever thrown what you thought was the perfect shot only to leave something odd, off the wall, or just plain unfair? Of course you have. Have you ever thrown an absolutely terrible shot, but gotten a completely wild break? Again, of course. Bowling is about making the best shot you can with the best of your knowledge applied and hoping that physics rewards your attempt.
You can have all the gadgets, braces, and equipment in the world, but people will still shoot honor scores with decades old Blue Dots, while your perfect dual angle layout picked after hours of deliberation, using every personal spec you can measure and apply, put on the ball you spent weeks agonizing in decision over, with the perfect surface for your condition continues to offer you not much more than any other ball you’ve ever drilled has. This is why having intuition and a feel for the game is infinitely more important than numbers, boards, and arrows. Bowling is a game you have zero control over, you simply do all you can to put the odds in your favor and take whatever it gives you, and it’s rarely fair. Bowling is the most complicated, impossible, and yet impossibly simple sport on the planet. All it takes is the right perspective and understanding to respect both what it is and what it isn’t, and more often than not, bowling is and isn’t the exact same thing at the exact same time.