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Finding the Line

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Today is  Thursday, November 27, 2014


Finding the line...
.

Another common question is, "How do I find the line?" You've got your mark, you're adjusting to the lane conditions but it doesn't seem to help, the lanes are against you. No matter what you do, your ball drifts too high or crosses over. What can you do to get "back in the groove?".

Daniel G. O'Brien (ai812@yfn.ysu.edu) provides the following useful tips:

The 20 board is my favorite line...I just wish I could play it more often. Around here, almost *always* the best shot is between the 5 and 10-boards. I find it easiest when playing a deep inside line to use a heavily polished ball. My favorite is a Nitro with lots of Finesse-It polish (see discussion in this group last week on Finesse.) You may even be able to play deeper than the 20 since the ball will slide longer.

If you're not used to playing that line, it may be hard to tell yourself that it's possible to hit the 20-board and get a strike.

You will be afraid of leaving a big, ugly split - that's why the tendency to get the ball too far out to the right is there.

As for the approach, I like to think about keeping my elbow in close to my body - It helps me to walk straight and stay left. But the real trick, not only for the 20-board but for any mark, is to _EXTEND_ your arm on the follow-through out _OVER_ the line, not just straight up in the air. If you extend, you should be able to hit your mark without messing up your backswing, footwork, etc. I know, easier said than done, right?

Hope this helps...

 

Finding the "Zen" of bowling is also elusive, in the following article, Bernie Cosell provides some thought provoking and valuable insights into assessing what to do when things go wrong.

Dry and wet are, for the most part, independent of 'line'. Loosely speaking, there are two aspects of lane condition which you have to content with: the front-to-back distribution of oil, and the left-to-right distribution of oil. The absolute AMOUNT of oil generally doesn't matter as much as the _pattern_, and primarily it is the left-to-right distribution that will determine where the 'line' is.

What you're striving to do is play the lanes so that your ball has a proper reaction pattern [this is the front-to-back aspect] and where you can get a little margin for error by some help from the oil [this is the left-to-right aspect]. What equipment you have available, how proficient you are at throwing the ball in different ways [raising and lowering your track, varying the speed, etc] will affect your ability to take advantage of the oil patterns you are confronted with. This is one of the reasons why you have to understand your own game and your own capabilities, and why the result will be that you occasionally have to play a line different than the 'conventional wisdom' proper line for the lanes.

My own strategy is that I think that getting some 'help' from the lanes is more important than the reaction profile, so I'll try to find the line which gives me some margin for error... what this means is that an area of the lanes where if I miss my mark a little bit to the right, the lanes will 'help' and my ball will hook a bit extra; similarly, if I pull the ball a tiny bit the lanes will help and my ball will 'set' a bit and hold pocket. the problem, of course, is that my ball may well have an AWFUL reaction in this area of the lane, but whatever I do in that region I'll get a lot of help from the lane doing it over and over and over, frame after frame.

So what I do after I decide on what area of the lane to play is begin juggling to find a combination of equipment and technique that will work on my chosen line. As I said, the more equipement you have and the more skilled you are, the more ability you'll have to be able to find [or make] a good reaction in the part of the lane where the shot is best.

How do you know when to change your line? I think this is a VERY difficult and subtle question, much much harder than the original question [of finding the line in the first place], especially if you consider it with its dual: how do you know when to change balls/release/speed/etc. The first and *MOST* important principle is *NEVER* make a correction based on a bad shot. This implies that you have to be a good enough bowler to (a) know what a good shot is, and (b) be able to analyze your own throw and tell if it was 'good' or not. So.. before you can worry about any of this stuff you have to practice enough so that you are a steady, self-aware bowler and you know when you're making correct shots.

So you're not scoring, what do you do? Well, you need to understand WHY you're not scoring: is the ball reacting badly, but you still seem to have good area? Then stay where you are and change equipment. If the ball seems to be reacting OK, but you're having trouble getting a *consistent* reaction [_ONLY_ looking at the good shots, of course], then it might be time to try a different line. One easy thing to do is to move a few boards left or right and see how that area 'feels'. With some experience, you should be able to do this fairly reliably [that is, if you're playing the X board, you should learn how far to move your feet to play the X+2 board].. even if the lanes vary some, because the change is small you should stay around the pocket. Deciding to make the 'big leap' is very very hard, and I think not worth worrying about too much [other than spending an hour in practice to get it figured out, of course..]. Yes, once in a while in the middle of a league the lanes will change enough that the savvy bowler moves 15 boards and shoots lights-out, but that's outweighed [IMO] by the overwhelming majority of the time that a BIG change like that just leaves you totally lost and having _no place_ to play on the lanes. If you're thinking about this, don't be afraid to give away a few pins: if you leave a 4-6, give away the extra pin and try a strike ball on a new line instead of shooting for the 4-pin... if you're shooting a count ball in the 10th, try a new line with it [basically Parker Bohn did that on TV this afternoon when he threw a strike ball at a 4-6].

 

Bernies response (above) solicited the following response and advise from Jerry A. Jelinek:

Bernie gives a excellent set of conditions to judge how to play the lanes.

Here is some more helpful tips. Bernie hits on the key to becoming a better bowler:

What you're striving to do is play the lanes so that your ball has a proper reaction pattern [this is the front-to-back aspect] and where you can get a little margin for error by some help from the oil [this is the left-to-right aspect].

This is a excellent point. Bowling is simple when you find a area of the lane where you can maximize your error. If you watched bowling Saturday you saw the pros bowling on a tough condition. Why was it tough? The bowlers seemed to have a "dry" back end - meaning the ball would hook hard at the 40-50 foot mark. The bowlers seemed to have a fair amount of oil outside and drier inside (this I saw and represents a "reverse block").

Ok we have looked at the conditions and still ask why did the pros struggle. Only one answer, they didn't have a large margin for error. If they increased speed or tried to hook the ball farther outside. The ball would hit more oil and die. If they slowed down or moved further in, the ball would hit dry boards and hook to early. The same principal applies if you are a 150 bowler or a 220 bowler. The more margin of error if you have, the higher you will score.

Bernie makes some more excellent points:

My own strategy is that I think that getting some 'help' from the lanes is more important than the reaction profile, so I'll try to find the line which gives me some margin for error... what this means is that an area of the lanes where if I miss my mark a little bit to the right, the lanes will 'help' and my ball will hook a bit extra; similarly, if I pull the ball a tiny bit the lanes will help and my ball will 'set' a bit and hold pocket.

But how do I find this "magical" error zone. Practice, Practice PRACTICE! There are some excellent books to help you decide on practice techniques. I go back to my favorite "Knowledge is the Key" by Fred Borden. Another book which is good is "Bowling 200+" by Mike Aulby and Dave Ferraro. What I like about the later mentioned is a neat practice technique.

The Dots Game

Take any piece of equipment you have, say a Columbia Yellow Dot. There are a set of dots at 7 foot from the foul light (can't remember how many. Maybe 15 or so) Use the dots of your side of the head pin (right of the 20th board for righties, left of the 20th board for lefties). Pick the furthest right dot. Throw your ball. When you get a double, move to the next dot. Count how many shots it takes you to use the same piece of equipment to get doubles on each dot. After you have done this, pick another piece of equipment, say a Fab Blue Hammer. Repeat the game. This game is a excellent way to learn how to throw each piece of equipment you have to hook and go straight. This is tough, but a excellent learning tool.

How do you know when to change your line? I think this is a VERY difficult and subtle question, much much harder than the original question [of finding the line in the first place], especially if you consider it with its dual: how do you know when to change balls/release/speed/etc. The first and *MOST* important principle is *NEVER* make a correction based on a bad shot.

Bernie makes another good point. (I'm not a big Bo Burton fan, but he does emphasize this in his bowling theory).

Another good technique to know when to move is by watching bowlers you know and see how they adjust. I'm lucky enough to bowl with 2 Cleveland Hall of Famers. I use their knowledge to my best advantage. Both have similar games to mine, so we feed off each other and how we feel the lanes are acting.

Also as you begin to get better, you begin to have different pieces of equipment which react differently. Each piece will have its own characteristics and thus will work on different lane conditions.

Again "Knowledge is the Key".

                                       Gawd did you actually read this far?


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