Seems that things have taken turn for the worst very shortly after taking a turn towards the awesome. I guess that’s what makes for a good story.
I had the great privilege of a coaching session with the might Steve Richter this past Wednesday. After seeing where I was at since our last session a few months prior he made two comments: I have come a long way from where I started and my footwork was all kinds of horrible. He took some side and back angle video and showed me how my feet were destroying my timing and delivery. It was really easy to see once it was pointed out and shown in slow-mo. My second step had my right foot crossing over WAY too far (which I kinda knew already) which was forcing my next step with my left to have to lift up and wrap around my right (which made it a REALLY short step and screwed everything up). Watching it over and over again, I saw myself lift my right leg to cross over which made my timing late, then that short third step would really screw up my back swing and make a joke out of my fourth and fifth. It was ugly and could end up being a huge issue if I let it continue.
We worked on getting my second step in front of my first, extended my third step (all while building speed as I went, nice and evenly), and then a short fourth before the final slide step on the fifth. Miraculously, everything started to click again. My accuracy went up and my delivery was a ton smoother. In addition to the feet, we also added some work on getting behind the ball better and not pushing the ball away from my body. As Steve said, you need to clear your body and legs while swinging the ball, but instead of an inch I was pushing it out a mile.
By the end of the our session, things were working and, more importantly, feeling great. I was ready to take on the USBC Open Championships (bowling Monday, April 23 and will be reporting from the event). I was ready to take on Wes Malott! Okay, that might be stretching it.
Then came Monday. A day of anticipation to show off my new form on the lanes. To see all the Xs on the screen. To conquer all.
First throw during warm-ups and my thumb stuck in the thumbhole. How peculiar. Another attempt, another pop. And another. Something was seriously wrong. I hadn’t had any thumb issues in the previous 200+ games I’d bowled this season in league and practice and then this sudden plague. Throughout the night, I battled against my thumb and tried to figure out what was wrong. I didn’t matter which ball I threw. If I flattened everything out and took away my hook, the thumb came out clean. Must be a hand position or timing thing. Problem was, I felt like I was delivering the ball naturally so I couldn’t get my brain to recognize exactly what was going on or how to remedy the situation.
I left the lanes equal parts frustrated, worried, and happy. Happy? Yep, I was a little pleased that I still managed a 528 (191, 167, 170) against all odds. I played straighter and just did my best to release my thumb when I could. Not too shabby, all things considered.
Scariest part of the night was the near-Blanchard during the second game. Thumb completely stuck and pulled me onto the lane, planting my right foot onto the oil. Luckily, I kept my balance (Josh can out-bowl me but I have him beat on staying on my feet). I can only imagine the pain of falling with a 16 pound balling ball onto a hard surface/gutter would feel like. Had that happened, I might have had to change the blog to Gutter to Gutter and just throw in the towel…
Next step: fix the thumb. With “nationals” coming up next Monday, I really need to get this figured out. Last thing I want to do is make a fool of myself in front of a bunch of other people. Practice on Wednesday was difficult, with the same issues, but I think I have a solution in the works. Managed a 236 (second highest game for me yet) after 8 games of futility. Ahhh… thumbs…
Stay tuned Sunday through Tuesday for my reports from the USBC Open Championships. It may change your life. Or, at least, a few minutes of it.
Stay out of the gutters!