Ah f**k it! Let’s go bowling.

Well, if you’ve seen The Big Lebowski, the title of this blog may bring a smile to your face.  If you haven’t seen the aforementioned movie, you are likely wondering what the hell is up with the title.

Long story, short: I’ve taken up Ten pin bowling as my primary sport since moving to the US.  Why?  Because there really are no other options available to me at this point in time.

Those who know me would know that I would much rather play sports that involve some level of physical exertion, such as Volleyball or Touch Rugby.  Having said that, however, I’ve discovered that I really do enjoy bowling.  What’s more, I’m not too bad at it, which makes it that much more fun.

Since taking it up in June, with an average of around about 120-130, I’ve since lifted my average to around about 170.  My highest game to date is 267, a score I would love to beat soon.

I never thought that I was capable of scoring anywhere 200, but as I found out after bowling a few times with my father-in-law, Bill Colwell, I realised that scoring well comes down to two simple principles that apply to any sport: getting good at the smaller details of the game and being consistent in your approach to the game.

As it turns out, there are really two or three overriding things to keep in mind when you bowl.  Obviously, there will be real time adjustments that you need to make for each game, but there really are two or three things that matter.


  1. It makes no difference how hard you throw the ball.  If you consistently throw the ball hard, but can’t hit the side of car, you might as well just put the ball down in the gutter and kick it.  I used to believe that if I throw the ball REALLY hard and hit the head pin, I’ll get a strike the majority of the time.  Clearly, I proved this principle wrong simply by observing my average.  Try to hit head pin and the pin beside it in the direction of your dominant arm (known as “the pocket”) and you will increase the odds of scattering pins, no matter how hard or soft you throw the ball.
  2. Don’t even bother thinking about the pins.  Pick a mark on the floor and aim at that.  If you can consistently hit your mark, then you can adjust your shots from there.
  3. On your approach to the lane, walk in as straight a line as you possibly can.  If you do move laterally at all, try to be consistent in the amount of lateral movement you add.
  4. The most important thing I’ve learned, which actually applies to any sport, is this.  What ever you do, do it the same every time.  Whenever you have variations in your approach to an aspect of your game, the less likely you are to perform at you best.
Obviously, there are a number of nuances that apply directly to bowling that don’t apply anywhere else, but these four simple principles do work.  From there you can work on tempo, hook, ball configuration etc., to fine tune your game.  Like most sports, when broken down to its components, bowling is a very simple sport.  Just keep it consistent and everything else will follow.

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