How you practice determines how you bowl


Mike Hawkins Bowling Columnist


By Mike Hawkins

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

This week’s column is dedicated to the memory of the man who made me the person I am today; my hero, my idol, my role model, and my best friend; my dad, Cleveland Hawkins.

I am glad that I had a chance to share with him that he would be mentioned in my story last week. He always looked forward to reading my weekly columns and I made sure he had a copy of last week’s paper when he went to his grave this past weekend.

We’ve all heard the adage “Practice makes perfect.” However, I tend to lean more to the philosophy of NFL coaching great, Vince Lombardi, who was quoted once as saying “Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

The notion that practice is an important piece of becoming a successful bowler is not earth shattering news, but hours and hours of practice will yield minimal results if it isn’t done correctly.

So, what constitutes a correctly planned and executed practice session? Laser-like focus on a single greatest need.

It’s tough to go into a bowling center and just focus on one part of your game. Like most people, even when I practice, I want to post a score. Repeatedly shooting 7-pin spares or just trying to hit a target without trying to score is difficult for competitive bowlers.

One article I recently read compared bowling practice to a student’s college experience as it suggested setting a GPA. This time GPA didn’t stand for grade point average, but instead, setting Goals, developing a Plan, and taking Action.

Knowing this, how does a bowler determine what needs to be worked on? It’s always nice to have an extra set of eyes to critique your shot, and when that’s not possible, it’s time to employ some form of technology either through a video camera or video through a cell phone.

One of the best in the local area for having a dedicated and focused practice is Jevon Simpson. I can expect to see Javon come in at least every other week.

His time is totally practice, using his cell phone to record almost every shot, then viewing his shot, often zooming in to a particular part of his delivery. I’ve even witnessed seeing him view two videos side by side to observe the differences in shots.

I remember the first time I watched video of myself bowling. It came from a national tournament where you could pay to purchase a video of your tournament, including audio through a clip-on microphone.

Watching these tapes magnified a horribly crooked backswing that swung out away from my body, which also explained the collection of splits on my scoreboard. As I remember, the audio wasn’t exactly kid-friendly throughout either. Sorry, mom.

There’s a plethora of things a bowler could choose to work on during a quality practice session. Among these are simple things like hitting a target on the lane, playing different lines on a lane, a consistent backswing, and a clean release.

When bowlers think about hitting targets, they are usually referring to the arrows located on every fifth board that are found about 15 feet from the foul line. I’m old school, and when I line a kid up the first time, I always use the second arrow as a starting point.

The arrows aren’t the only targets available to help the bowlers though. Less than halfway to the arrows is a set of 10 dots, five on each side, three boards apart. Many bowlers find these closer targets a little easier to hit. Some people like using these dots as targets when facing heavy oil as it makes them put the down closer and into a roll sooner.

Finally, Brunswick has added another set of lane markers to its synthetic lanes. The four markers are found farther down the lanes between 34 and 43 feet from the foul line. Just like the dots helping on heavy oil, these markers can help on a drier pattern. Targeting further down the lane helps the bowler project or loft the ball further down to help get to the breakpoint on the lane.

From the local lanes last week, Ben Hawkins honored his Pa by rolling a perfect game and 800 series for the second consecutive week during the youth Crazy-8 league. Ben’s final tally was an impressive 300-822. The other half of the Hawkins’ brothers, Bryce had another big week as well, firing a nice 256-704.

Elizabeth Scaff’s 258-551 topped the young ladies of the youth, while Gary Nistler’s 192-546 and GS Pinner’s 191 game topped the adults from the Crazy-8 league.

On the adult scene, Donald “Murdock” Spencer flirted with perfection last Monday when sandwiched a 10-bagger between a first frame spare and a 7 count final shot for a fantastic 287 game.

Boris Beatty claimed the top series from Monday night with a 224-626, followed by Lake Krehel’s 208-610 and William Swinson’s 216-594. Brittney Gaumond’s 180-484 and Patsy Sanders’ 175-453 topped the ladies’ side of the Monday night sheet.

Garry Williams paced the men from Thursday Night Quartet with a super 235-661, followed by Lake Krehel’s 213-576. Top games for the ladies came from Brittney Gaumond (220), Debbie Winslow (181), and Sylvia Holley (158).

Taysha Cofield (159), Cheyanne Hardison (137), and Connor Cafferello (112) topped the Bumper Crazy-8 kids while Val Hardison (242), Christy Elliott (174) and Kenny Elliott (150) led the adults from the bumper side of the house.

Until next week, good luck and good bowling!