What could go wrong? Here’s a short list


Mike Hawkins Bowling Columnist


By Mike Hawkins

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Move left, move right, move forward, move back, speed up your ball, slow it down!

If you’ve ever bowled, and especially if you are just getting started, you’ve certainly heard some of these simple nuggets of advice.

As the local youth league director and coach, I have certainly shared some of these pointers with our youth, and as an employee in the local center, I’m also known to occasionally try to help an open bowler with a few tips.

All of this led to me considering some of the most common errors in a bowler’s game or as I used to ask during my years in public education, “What is your major malfunction?”

Being out of balance at the foul line is one of the greatest barriers to being consistent with your shot. Even at my highest point of bowling, my balance was so bad that I had a little skip at the end of my delivery from not being able to slide.

To help young bowlers improve their balance, many coaches will instruct their students to keep their trailing foot on the ground instead of up in the air as seen in many more advanced players

As mentioned a few weeks ago, a bowler’s arm swing is another component of a solid game. Years ago, when an 18-year old Pete Weber starting making PBA televised finals, his sky-high backswing was unique to the game. Now more bowlers employ such a backswing to generate the needed power to get their aggressive balls farther down the lane before making their sharp turn to the pocket.

These higher backswings come with a high-risk, high-reward footnote. The higher the swing, the more opportunity for the swing to get out of alignment. If the swing gets too far behind the bowler’s back, the shot will go wide, and if the ball swings to the outside of the bowler, the shot will usually get tugged back to the inside.

My dad had a somewhat extensive list of the “best of all-time” baseball players. The top of this list usually changed with the circumstances, but one name that would come up in our discussions was the great American philosopher, Larry “Yogi” Berra.

One of the best quotes ever attributed to Yogi Berra was this one: “Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.” That same line could be used to describe our great game of bowling.

While certain physical attributes are found in most successful bowlers, just as important is a sound mental game. I witnessed this myself when in the early nineties, I lost (or at least temporarily misplaced) a poor attitude and started blowing-off bad shots and missed spares. The result was an average climbing over 200 and a membership in the Professional Bowlers’ Association.

Another area bowlers may struggle with is their release. Bowlers tend to like to lift up with their fingers as they release the ball. This is known as “hitting up” and is fine on a fresh oil pattern that has a considerable amount of oil on the lane.

The downside of “hitting up” is when the oil starts to flatten out or soak up off the lane. This is when too much finger lift can create a reaction which is more difficult to control. Knowing how to master and adjust your release is another area that our better bowlers have figured out.

The next thing a good bowler can do is read the motion of their ball. Pro bowlers can read the path of their ball like a New York Times best selling novel.

From the time the ball leaves your hand until it disappears off the back of the deck, every revolution is telling the story of the ball and its relationship with the lane, and learning to decipher this message can take bowlers years to figure out.

Finally, an important part of improving your bowling game is the willingness to accept constructive criticism. Growing up, I never had a real coach, but I had plenty of people who along the way, helped me become a decent bowler.

Now, I spend my Saturday mornings trying to help kids improve their games and have fun while doing so. Usually when kids follow my instructions, they miraculously find some sort of success.

Of course, success comes in varying degrees. For some that might mean converting a spare, for others it could be just keeping the ball on the lane. Bowlers who aren’t receptive to a little coaching will usually find their scores remain stagnant across time.

Leading the local scene were a couple of guys I had the pleasure of working with in youth leagues a while back. Teammates Lindsey Perry and Lake Krehel fired impressive scores of 247-657 and 225-651 respectively to lead the men of last Monday’s Trio league.

Perry and Krehel were joined by Boris Beatty’s 235-631 and Murdock Spencer’s 233 game. Patsy Sanders’ 173-480, Beth Marshall’s 172-473, and Katie Barefoot’s 170-453 paced the ladies last Monday night.

Thursday Night Quartet was paced by Garry Williams and his 212-603 to go along with Bobby Winslow’s 203-575, John Turner’s 197-570, Chris Farrell’s 213 game and Boris Beatty’s 211 effort. Brittney Gaumond (181-519), Debbie Winslow (191-516), and Patsy Sanders (181-464) topped the ladies.

Lucas Byrum lead the Bumper Crazy-8 league with his125 game, followed by Cheyanne Hardison’s 123, and Jesse Delauretis’s 114.

Ben Hawkins struck gold during the Crazy 8 firing a 300 game during his 806 series. During the same game as his 300, younger brother Bryce lost his bid at perfection on the 11th shot to toss a nice 283 as part of his 768 set.

Christopher Vinson joined the assault on the pins with a big-time 264-685. Lindsey Porter’s 159-449, Elizabeth Scaff’s 182-442, and Aven Hall’s 114-283 led the ladies.

GS Pinner and Kristy Hall paced the Crazy-8 adults with performances of 222-575 and 181-505 respectively.

Until next week, good luck and good bowling.