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How To Improve Your Bowling Average By At Least Ten Pins

Many people will tell you that bowling “isn’t a sport”. Well in reality they might be correct, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenging game. I watch numerous members in our bowling league throwing their hat on the ground after missing a shot, or punching the ball return as they return to their seat. The frustrations of the game are very real. The key though is you have to have a short memory when bowling. If you over think a shot you are likely to tighten up your muscles more than they should and miss the shot poorly. The key is to let your muscles remember more and your mind remember less.

That may sound like very odd advice when you first look at it, but I have found by developing that approach this season I have improved from a 156 average bowler two years ago to a 171 average bowler this year (I took last year off). Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice does. What this means is when you go and practice at times during the season, take it seriously. You will know on the type of shot you are struggling with. Are you having trouble hitting the 10 pin? Are you coming up short on your cross-lane shot to hit the 7 pin? Well use your practice time efficiently. Go ahead and shoot your regular first ball so you can get a feel for how the lanes are reacting that night. Are they more oily than usual? Drier than usual? Take note of this and make your adjustments on your first ball in practice. If you don’t get a strike on your first practice ball, don’t necessarily try to make the spare with the pins you have left standing. Instead practice on shots that you know cause you trouble. On your second ball bowl trying to pick up that difficult 7 or 10 pin spare instead of the easy 5 pin you left on your first ball.

When adjusting for your first shot on each practice turn, adjust just one item of your shot. The two items that should be the most common that you adjust are your ball speed and your approach. If your ball is going high in the pocket, either speed up your arm swing slightly or move 1/2 board to the right in your approach (if you are right handed, if you are left it would be 1/2 board to the left). Make the opposite adjustment if you are shooting too light in the pocket. Keep in mind though you should only do one of the two options of changing your ball speed or your approach. If you start trying to change both it will be hard to figure out which adjustment is most effective.

While practicing, also watch the other people bowling on the same lanes that you are bowling on. If they have a similar bowling style and ball path as you do, then watch them and see how their ball is reacting on the lane. Keep in mind though that the type of ball will have an effect on this too so use this information for general ideas but not as a hard and fast rule. Speaking of your bowling ball, don’t change balls just because you are struggling your first few practice throws. You will have less time to adjust to the ball you switch to and in the end the adjustments are more likely needed in your approach or your ball speed. One other thing to note when you are watching other people bowl on your lane. If quite a few people bowling on the same pair of lanes throw a ball with a similar track to yours this will effect the oil quicker than if people throw different paths. During the course of a three game match the oil conditions will change, usually these become apparent late in the second game. Yet, if several people are throwing that same path as you, you may start to notice these changes early during the second game. The quicker you anticipate and react to the changing lane conditions the less likely you will be to struggle with splits caused by going a little too high in the pocket.

Sometimes you can’t do all your adjustments during pre-game practice, and you need to visit your local bowling alley outside of your regular league time. Adjust the game when you practice to emphasize what you plan on working on. If you are missing 7 or 10 pins consistently then play a game with a fellow bowler where instead of trying to throw strikes you are trying to just hit the 10 pin. Make a first ball that hits the 7 or 10 pin only worth 20 points, if you hit just the 7 or 10 on the second ball make it worth 15 points. If you fail on either of these make the frame worth just the number of pins you knocked down. Obviously you will have to score the game manually but it will help you concentrate on your trouble pins. If you want to simplify it even more you can ask your bowling alley to set the pin setter so it will just put the 7 and 10 pins up on each frame. This way you can only shoot for one of those two challenging pins as you practice. Make the scoring easy, if you hit the 7 or 10 on the first ball it’s worth 2 points. Then if on your second ball you hit the remaining pin make your total score for the frame five points. If you miss on the first shot and then hit one of the pins on the second make it worth one point.

These are just a few ideas for how to improve your bowling game. I have tried all of these and have found that it has helped me greatly. Keep in mind the more muscle memory you teach yourself the easier it will be to avoid over thinking and locking up when confronted with difficult shots. Keep in mind, this might be a bit of a cliche but practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.

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Jaime London is a writer, contributor, editor and a photographer. He started his career as an editorial assistant in a publishing company in Chicago in 2009.