Keys to Effective Practice – by David Charron

I have been bowling for some 30+ years now. When I was a Younger Bowler in my early and late Teens I use to practice much the same way as many of the youth and adults for that matter, I see practicing today. Throw as many games as possible just as quickly as you possibly can. I quickly learned through my early 20’s that this type of Fast Paced non-thinking approach to practice was doing more harm than good. I changed my method of practice, while my number of practice games did not decrease (Roughly 50-80/Week in my 20’s), my time on the lanes certainly increased. I started to key on certain things through my practice session and started to see vast improvement on the lanes. The results of my new practice regiment only wanted to make me spend more time and effort on my game. I don’t practice as much these days, occasionally when my timing is bad, or I am having a particular difficultly, or most often when I get new Equipment to simply figure out reaction compared to my current equipment. So in this article I am going to share with you my 7 Keys to Effective General Practice.

 1)      PICK A GOOD TIME TO PRACTICE – Pick a time when you can devote at least 2 hours to a practice session. Not 20 Minutes before league to throw 3 games of one ball after another.

2)      PREPARE TO PRACTICE – Always start with stretching, Arms, Legs, Back, Neck, Hands, Etc then start slowly by rolling anywhere from 10-12 Balls down the lane with no particular attention to where, start with a very slow ball speed, and gradually pick this speed up to normal this with further stretch the muscles … Also prepare yourself mentally as well (see PLAN PRATICE) Make sure your body and mind is ready to practice.

3)      PLAN PRACTICE – Remember when you went to your high school or other team practice for Basketball, Football, Soccer, Baseball, or other sport. Your practice was planned with certain activities in segments. This is no different. Plan your practice and the things you will work on. Try to plan your Practice when Lane Conditions will be Similar to Leagues or Tournaments, or just the opposite if Adjusting to Different Conditions is the main focus of your practice. (i.e. Corner Pins, Single Pin Spare, Multi Pin Spares, Hand Positions, Approach, Ball Speed, Baby Splits, Angles of Entry, Timing Issues, New Equipment, etc)  Each practice segment (3) should be 20-30 Minutes in length approx. the time to bowl a Full Game.

4)      DON’T HAVE PRACTICE OVERLOAD – Do not try to work on too many things in one practice session. This will diminish the quality of your practice. Also be mindful of practicing too quickly, think about each shot in practice as if you were bowling in a league or tournament. Try to maintain the same type of pace to your practice.

5)      SIMULATE COMPETITION – Remember when you were in the yard, playing whatever sport when you were younger, say Basketball for instance, “It’s Jordan for 3 at the buzzer, and it’s good” How many times do you hear that play in your head as a kid. Regardless of what you are practicing on when you get to the Tenth Frame of each practice game, pretend you need to throw the First Strike to win the game. Put the pressure in your mind practice with this pressure, when you get to real life situations you will be better prepared.

6)      COMPLETE PRACTICE – Complete your practice session, by bowling regular games at a tournament or league pace. Remembering to simulate competition, but now on every shot. Make this session of your practice about bowling for score applying the ideas and techniques you learned, modified, or practiced during other portions of your session.

7)      MENTAL GAME – Keep POSITIVE mental focus on every shot regardless of how poorly or how well you might be doing or what portion of your practice session you might be in. Remember once you get to certain skill level the Mental Game is probably the most important part of your overall game.

Now that we have covered General Practice Tips I want to also cover “Breaking in the NEW Ball”. Most of the time I see Bowlers practicing because they just got a new ball and want to “see how what it does”. I do this as well, but again I see bowlers doing this in the same fast paced non-thinking environment as they utilize for their General Practice. Here are my 4 Additional Tips for New Equipment. .

 1)      PICK A GOOD TIME TO PRACTICE

2)      PREPARE TO PRACTICE

3)      PLAN PRACTICE – If you are going to test or try new equipment you can put this into your General Practice Plan, but put it at the end. However, my Suggestion is that you devote an entire practice session to NEW Equipment.Make sure your new equipment is prepared to bowl. Whether that is inserts, beveling of holes, sanding, tape, etc.

4)      CURRENT EQUIPMENT FIRST – Bowl a couple games with your current equipment to give yourself a baseline on how the lanes are reacting and such with the equipment you are currently use to using. Fight the urge to put that NEW Ball in your hands immediately.

5)      SAME LINE – Now play the NEW Equipment on the same line, hand position, speed, etc. Simply try to throw the ball the same way as the Current Equipment to give yourself an idea of how it will react in comparison to your current equipment.

6)      ADJUSTMENTS – Make adjustments to ball speed, hand position, line, etc to find the desired ball reaction. Test these adjustments in a variety of circumstances, throw the ball at full racks, corner pins, single & multi-pin spares.

7)      SIMULATE COMPETITION

8)      COMPLETE PRACTICE

9)      MENTAL GAME

Following these guidelines to General Practice and New Equipment will make the most of your Practicing TIME & DOLLARS. This also should lessen the adjustment time to your new ball and hopefully save the frustration of struggling with new stuff, because you didn’t take the time to make sure you were ready to use it.

Opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and may not reflect the opinions held by MSUSBC. As always your comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged. Please post your responses and thank you for reading the Bowler 2 Bowler Blog. Good Luck and hopefully I will see all of you on the lanes.

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2 responses to “Keys to Effective Practice – by David Charron

  1. David,
    I agree that the focus of practice should be to work on elements of your game. I have the challenge every year of working with high school bowlers that are focused on their score when they practice instead of what we’re supposed to be working on. They feel if they can throw a high game in practice they can throw a high game in competition. The problem is they didn’t work on the weak points of their game and falter to them in competition. Then they can’t figure out why they can bowl well in practice and not in competition. Which is why I force them into a practice routine rather than just letting them bowl. Some have come to realize the method to my madness and others still fight it.

  2. Hello! Thanks for the tips! I am a second year league bowler, my first introduction to the game of bowling. My handicap dropped from 98 to 56 however I feel that coaching would benefit my overall game. I practice every Sunday morning, during the game, nine pins fall, leaving the ten or seven pin?????? Any suggestions?

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