Single Pins, Near Perfection or Disaster – part 3 by Ed Cotter
My apologies for taking so long to post the last installment. End of winter season and start of summer season put me behind the 8-ball. I’ll try to post at least twice a month during the summer. There are a lot of changes coming and some golden opportunities for bowlers. That will be in the next blog.
The last installment focuses on angle adjustments to the pocket. This is going to be the hardest set of adjustments for most bowlers to master. The required adjustments mean moving out of your comfort zone. You may need to stand in another spot, focus on a different mark/target, and or change your release. This won’t be easy, changing never is. I’m writing about it and understand the principles, but still struggle with application of the knowledge. The biggest handicap is not trusting that you made a good shot and make the necessary adjustments. This is where warm-up, stretching and practice, are very important to getting you started on a good night of bowling. How many times have you made the right adjustment in the 7th frame only to wish you had made it in the 3rd frame? Welcome to the making the right adjustment to late support group.
What I’m going to explain should not be attempted without practicing first. I have two sons that attack angle adjustments in different ways. One does the newer thought process of changing balls based on lane conditions and other bowlers’ ball paths, that way he doesn’t have to change his approach to throw a good ball. The other is more of a traditionalist. He uses speed and hand positions to change the ball’s angle of entry. Ball changing is the norm and stressed by most coaching systems. Bowlers are taught how to develop 4, 6, and 8 ball arsenals. This is unrealistic for new bowlers. Using speed and hand positions can be challenging to instruct and just as challenging to learn. I’m going to attempt to make it understandable.
First the optimum angle for a strike is 6-7 degrees. Less than 6 degrees, the ball tends to deflect straight back. Greater than 7 degrees, the ball tends to drive straight through and not deflect as needed. You can change your pocket angle by making parallel or staggered targeting adjustments. Parallel adjustments are moving where you stand and your ball target the same number of boards in the same direction. Staggered adjustments are moving where you stand and or your ball target a different number of boards. If your ball is hitting the pocket too steep (less than 6 degrees) you may want to move where you stand and your target the same number of boards towards the channel (a.k.a. the gutter) on your ball side. This will allow the ball a little more time on the backend to build up directional momentum for a strong pocket hit. Depending on comfort, you could stagger your adjustments. Move the ball target towards the channel on your ball side or move your standing spot towards the channel on your non-ball side. This will increase the angle your ball will take to hit the pocket.
Another way is to change your axis tilt. The axis tilt is an imaginary pole that runs through your ball that runs perpendicular to your bowling hand/arm while holding your ball. Making this kind of adjustment will definitely take some practice to master. Be patient. Mastery will not occur over night. The best way to master this adjustment is to have another person help you and or video tape your release. I’ll try to explain the concept. Stand near the edge of a carpet (like it was a foul line. Place a ruler in the palm of your hand and close your hand around it. Looking down your arm at the ruler, match it up to the edge of the carpet. This position is 0 degrees of axis tilt. Remember this position, it’s the best tilt release for picking up your corner pin nemesis. Using an imaginary clock face, turn the pinky side of your hand towards your body. Stop when the ruler is at the 2 o’clock/8 o’clock position. This will be about 30 degrees of axis tilt. This will give your ball a little more traction when it enters the lane backend. Turn the ruler some more in the same direction as before. Stop at the 1:30 o’clock/7:30 o’clock position. This will be about 45 degrees of axis tilt. This is, for most bowlers, the maximum amount of axis tilt you’ll want to attempt. Anymore and your ball will slide more than it will roll, unless you have a high ball revolution rate.
These are only a couple of many adjustments that can be made to change the ball angle into the pocket. You’ll notice I didn’t specify how many boards to move and where to stand. I didn’t because there is no magic formula that will work for every bowler. Every bowler would have to bowl the same way in order to come up with that type of formula. This isn’t the case. Every bowler’s style is uniquely theirs, no matter how hard they try to copy someone else. The best advice for mastering these adjustments is to find a coach or a bowler you trust. Another set of eyes will be a little more honest than you trying to feel your way through it.
As always, Good Luck and Good Bowling!!