…but the pins are not. Before I get into the gruesome details, a bit of information on what I had going on before I bowled last night.
To celebrate the release of some fantastic new balls, the second season of Gutter to Glory, and moving down from a pointless 16 lbs. to 15lbs, I received three sparkly new balls this summer. A beautiful present from Roto Claus. Sitting under the tree on bowling league morning were the Berserk, Shatter, and a fresh Defiant. Could a kid ask for anything more? Kids always do, and they were awesome enough to oblige.
I could imagine going anywhere else but Steve Richter’s shop (yes, click that Elite Pro Shop logo on the right side, do it!). If Roto Grip is Santa Claus, Steve is like all the elves in the workshop as one guy. But taller. And not at all elf-like. Anyway, he watched me bowl a bit and then asked that I show him the weird change in my form that had suddenly appeared at the end of last season. I was nervous, because I felt like what I was doing was completely wrong. After one throw, Steve smiled and told me that was exactly the direction I should be going. This left me a bit confused, seeing as I felt my timing was horrible, the ball fell of my hand, and not a single pin went down. What he saw, though, was something good wrapped in badness.
He took video and we analyzed my “new” swing with what I had been doing. The new swing had me turning my right shoulder back, putting my arms out, raising the ball higher in my backswing, and actually leaning forward. All good things and closer to what the pros do (I’m not claiming I’m that good, it was more like a half-asleep drunk man impersonating a pro). We worked for the next 45 minutes or so on how to tame some of the aspects of this new approach and make it work to my advantage. Miraculously, amazingly, despite my best attempts to counteract it, it worked. I rolled quite a few balls once we got a good point and I was hitting my target and feeling smooth.
With Steve’s help, my approach is significantly better off than it was. There is now more room to grow and get better. A better canvas, so to speak. And that is just the start. I have officially fallen in love with the new Shatter. Not only does it look awesome (all watery and fluid) but the reaction is surprising. It’s strong, way stronger than I thought for being in the HP2 line. I figured it would only fit where expected—light oil—but that’s not the case. It runs through the thin stuff just fine but even when moving left to grab some oil, it still charges up enough and snaps at the end with authority. That ball is going to be the first one out of my bag for a long time.
The Berserk is awesome in its own right. The greatest thing about it is that it feels similar to my Outlaw, which was a sadly unheralded GEM of a ball). It has more strength and energy at the end, a bit more flip it feels like, but still very consistent. The Defiant, well, I think that speaks for itself. Strong, aggressive, looks like destruction going down the lane.
Yeah, saying a “bit” of information was an understatement. No one has every accused me of not writing enough. On to the fun part of the week. My complete lack of control the first two games of the season.
The league I am in on Wednesdays is a scratch league at Bowlero in Wauwatosa. I chose to go back there since it’s close, only a three-person team, and going up against scratch bowlers should be good for my humility and learning. Walking in yesterday, I was really nervous, more than expected. During warm-up, I could feel the inevitable despite the ball coming off okay at first. With each throw, my was forcing it more, tensing up increasingly. So, when it came time to bowl for score, I was all over the place.
With the new shoulder turn, I forced myself to keep my left arm quiet like Steve taught me, not move it back too soon… but I was way overboard with it. I was too late rotating and ended up pulling the ball across me and pushing the ball WAY left. Took me almost the entire first two games to figure that out. Remember, I’m new to the new me. On top of that issue, I was pushing the ball out early, screwing up my timing. Lastly, I wasn’t thinking things through, I was thinking through frustration. After two games, I sat at 224. For TWO games. Yep, 113 and 111 to open the season.
Okay, you can stop laughing.
I took some deep breathes, sat down, and went back to what Steve and I worked on. Visualized what he showed me and pulled that smooth feeling back into view. The third game was a ton better. I almost matched my combined score from the first two games by rolling a solid 223. I had a few lucky strikes on shots that started to go back south like earlier, but I recovered quickly and moved on. At the end, a 447 isn’t going to cut it in a scratch league, but I felt great that I had the high score of all six bowlers on our pair for that last game. I also walked away extremely humbled in general.
Tonight, I bowl again, this time with my work friends. It’s the same league the other Gutter to Glory dreamer (that’s for you, Hank) bowls in. I am viewing this as my chance to relax and help Zak learn some of the stuff that helped me. Really looking forward to seeing him improve, he’s going to love this game.
Feels good to be back in the swing of things, even if that swing sometimes looks horrific!
(no pictures, I’ve humiliated myself enough… unless you look for @guttertoglory on Twitter)