Old habits die hard, even if they were just new habits a few months ago. As I work on my new form, the old fights to remain relevant, as though I may suddenly change my mind and say “you know, the old, clumsy way of bowling is more suited to me.” From shot to shot, my execution wavers between the two. It was much easier as I worked with Steve a few weeks ago, since it was so different that it was still on the outside and easily differentiated from my existing form. Now, two weeks in, it’s pretty cloudy…
I spent a good deal of time on Wednesday over lunch working on execution. I wasn’t comfortable with what happened last week (how could anybody, that was ugly stuff) and needed to get a good look at what was going on. I could feel things were wrong, but with so many errors happening through the swing it was hard to pin things down. I set up my phone to shoot some video and then threw some horrible shots down the lane. Wow, it was horrible. So bad, I won’t even post what I shot to avoid massive embarrassment.
Anyway, in reviewing the first six shots I saw all sorts of bad. First, my hand was rotating to the outside of the ball really early. As I came into my slide step, my hand was already almost all the way to the outside of the ball, with my thumb in the completely wrong position. That explained a couple of problems: horrible ball rotation and massive thumb friction on the left side. This was similar to my old habit of delivering the ball with a “briefcase” set-up at release but mixed with my new approach where I cup the ball instead of breaking my wrist. It created this horrible mixture that ruined anything good that came before it.
Second, I was rotating my shoulders using the new approach, but reintroduced my old habit of wrapping the ball around my back. This resulted in a really twisted path to the ball and made it nearly impossible to not end up left of my mark. Seeing that on the video really made it apparent that the old and new were competing and it was making something worse than either could do on their own.
Third (yes, lots of problems), my timing was early and late. I was starting early, holding my back swing way too long and ended up late. So, at the delivery (of the evil sort) my shoulders weren’t even close to back to where they should be. Seriously, this was horrendous stuff. I have never thought changing my form would result is just a terrible mess. Sure, I would have to put in some serious effort but this?! Nasty.
I hit the lanes for a few more games after my analysis (gagging still evident) and it was significantly better. First, I focused on keeping my hand inside and behind the ball. Voila! Rotation returned and the ball hooked more like it should. Missed my mark, but at least it was progress. Threw a few shots and tried to lock in that feel. Then, on to the shoulders and ball path. Thankfully, I have been working hard on this even prior to the new form. Hiding the ball behind my back not only results in poor shots, but it’s just foolish. The pins know what I’m doing, it’s not like I’m going to surprise them. I kept my arm in, ball close to my body, and visualized a straight path throughout the shot. Whoa, I hit my mark! And a strike! Hrm… maybe I’m not as horrible as I feel.
*** Roto Grip Glory ***
Additionally, Steve sent me the video from our coaching session and a great YouTube resource to get my mind in the right place. It brought me back to that feeling of success and the comfort I felt when I was throwing balls then. Packed that feeling and some of the tips in the video into my brain and relaxed before I’d have to put it all to use.
I felt like I would fair decently during league. Certainly didn’t think I would be perfect, but scores of 111 and 113 seemed avoidable. After a mix of relief and frustration, I did manage to keep my scores out of the absolute basement. I did have to battle against the old habits that I’d worked to fix, but I was doing so from a place of strength of instead of being oblivious and outright angry.
I started out really strong. All that lunchtime work was still a bit fresh and I threw the ball well. Three strikes, wow! Where did that come from?! Then, bam, a 1-3-6-8 mess. Oh yeah, it’s still Tim out there bowling. Pulled the ball left. Picked up the spare, at least. Then two consecutive 1-3-9 leaves (spares!). Then, on the first ball of the 7th frame, the ball fell off early and plopped into the gutter. How appropriate, gotta remember I’m still closer to gutter than glory. Second shot, I left the 1-3-9 again. What the heck? At least I’m consistent. Left the 5-6-10 in the 8th frame and picked it up, pulled 3/ in the ninth, and a missed 3-9 to cut my 10th short. 166 to end the first game. Not great, but at least I wasn’t in bumper bowling territory.
Next game went decently. Two splits, picked up one. One double. Only left two frames open. 170. Meh, I guess that’ll do. Kept my cool through some frustrating frames, but my focus on spares was solid.
Final game was a messy 153. Another gutter ball on the very first shot of the game. Two more splits, one picked up. Good, then bad, then good, then horrible, then great… blah blah blah. At the end of the night, I was sitting with stats I never see. Horrible first ball average and decent spare percentage (for me). Usually, I struggle a ton on spares, shooting 40%. 73% on multi-pin spares is unlike me. So, what changed during those shots, how could I get that focus over to the first ball…
A 489 series isn’t good. It isn’t pathetic. It will have to do for now. 40 pins more than last week, so I’m shooting to add at least another 40 for next week. I wasn’t completed dejected as I drove home. There was hope. I will always have hope.