Is 21 games a true measure of a bowler’s skill?

Is 21 games a true measure of a bowler’s skill? By Ed Cotter


For most leagues, 3 games a night, that is 7 weeks.  For most bowlers, even the best ones, that length of time will see its fair share of ups and downs.  The better the bowler, the more likely there will be fewer downs and more ups.  That’s not to say the lower average bowlers can’t do the same.  I think this is a good length of time to establish a pretty good baseline for the bowler’s average.


Why or why not?

To maintain high performance over 7 weeks is a task, especially when you have to consider all factors involved, outside factors (family, work, and life) and inside factors (lane conditions, atmosphere, and other bowlers).  I personally, wouldn’t shorten this time frame.  The shorter the time, the easier to maintain a higher level.  Granted, that’s what every bowler wants to do.  Do you want to peak for 4-5 weeks bowling 190 and have your average set to only struggle the next few weeks and average 165?  The best is to maintain the current 21 game timeframe or increase it.


What does USBC say?

USBC doesn’t have much guidance for leagues, just that each league must establish guidelines for establishing an average.  For tournaments there is Rule 319a.1. which states that a bowler must bowl 21 games in a USBC sanctioned league.  Rule 319a.2. states that a current years 21 game average that is 10 pins higher than the previous years will be used.  USBC does allow Rule 319a.2. to be waived if so desired by tournament management.


How does the bowler’s age relate to this?

One major factor concerning a bowler’s age is maturity.  Maturity can have the single greatest impact on a bowler’s ability when dealing strictly with age.  Maturity is relational to the bowler’s ability to adapt to various situations, both good and bad.  Those young in maturity tend to focus on the adverse situations and blame other factors, rather than how they can adapt and survive the adverse times.  As maturity grows, the bowler learns to adapt to situations better and maintain a higher level of play longer while shortening the adverse times.


How does a bowler’s equipment relate to this?

I could see this factor having an impact on a bowler’s average.   Reason being, a bowler has to learn to use the equipment they have before it is beneficial for them.  If you don’t use the equipment often and don’t learn what happens in particular situations then the equipment won’t help increase your average.  I’m a fond believer in learning to use the equipment you have before blaming the equipment or replacing it.  That’s not to say that the equipment might be wrong for your bowling style.  That’s where it’s very important to work with a coach and your pro shop to determine the right equipment for your bowling style.  Your equipment should compliment your style not contradict it.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen bowlers buy the latest and greatest equipment and then change their style for the equipment.

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