Bowlers: Are we the problem or the solution?

Since my arrival in the US, I think it’s fair to say I’ve become somewhat obsessed with Bowling. As in the ten pin variety. Most days, my thoughts are absolutely consumed with bowling. It’s really just a matter of time before I get involved in the industry in some capacity. More than likely, it will be as a Pro shop operator, but that’s a whole other blog entry, I think.Since the day I started bowling competitively, I was aware of the grumblings and groanings of the bowlers around me. Bowlers are by far the most fickle of athletes I’ve encountered. Bowlers expect the lanes to be dressed perfectly for them every time. If they can’t throw it over the second arrow and watch it gently roll back to the pocket, then someone screwed up. If they have to get deep and swing it, someone screwed up. If they can’t fire it up first arrow, someone screwed up. What’s more, if the have to make adjustments, someone screwed up!

Of all the sports I’ve played over the years, and I’ve played a few, this only occurs in bowling. Players bemoaning the very thing that makes their sport possible. Old timers think balls are too strong and lane conditions are too weak. New bowlers think they should be able to a new ball, any ball, and make it hook the lane. It’s just not realistic. Only bowlers expect to get the result without the work.

To make matters worse for the sport, there is a HUGE array of lane conditions. Some make it REALLY easy to score, while others make it next to impossible. However, bowlers, as well as the uneducated public, don’t seem to take stuff like that into account when considering scores. Just last year, a professional bowler threw a 100 game on TV. Granted, he should have bowled better than that, but no one remembers that he lead the tournament for the ENTIRE week with a 230+ average on a VERY demanding condition bowling against the BEST bowlers in the world. No one remembers that the conditions play different from day to day, let alone from lane to lane and center to center. Also, the lanes break down COMPLETELY different under house lights. He had maybe 10-15 minutes before the match started to figure out where and how he was going to play the lanes. He made a decision and it turned out to be wrong.

Bowling creates a very unique situation in that only in bowling can the scoring pace be determined but the environment. We see that situation to some degree in golf, in that the tee gets moved back and forth, making the hole a little longer or shorter, or the position of the hole on the green can completely change how easy or hard the green plays, but that only changes how you approach the green and how you play the green.

In bowling, depending on how the lanes are conditioned, it can be ridiculously easy to score, or ridiculously difficult to score. How well you score on any condition comes down to how well you can adjust to the changing lane conditions and how well you can make your shots. Picking the right ball is a huge part of the equation as well. This particular decision becomes more important the more difficult the condition gets.

If we as bowlers look at ourselves a little more objectively and admit that its okay to not shoot the lights out every night. If I am to be honest with myself, I know I’m not that good right now. I know that. But, I also know that I can get better. There is always something to work on and something to improve. I determine how much I enjoy the game. Scoring is nice, but the scores won’t come if I don’t want to work hard for them. Professional bowlers, like every other professional athlete, are constantly working on their game. Learning new releases. Perfecting their spare game. Adjusting their timing and footwork. Fine tuning their equipment and how each ball plays compared to the others in the arsenal.

They say nothing in life is free. Why should that be different with bowling? Why should bowlers expect to score the same every week? Why should bowlers think that every ball they buy should hook exactly the same way no matter how they throw it, or where it goes on the lane.

Only when bowlers accept that they need to put in some work to see the results they want, will we see the game develop the way we would like to. Only when the bowling community as a whole accepts that things have changed and will continue to change, will we see the returning in droves.

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