No Matter What Hand You Use…Just Throw The Ball
by James Goulding III
Hello again fellow bowlers, and sorry for the delay in posting. It was a crazy end to summer and beginning of the new bowling season, so bear with me as I try and get back on track with posting. This month’s installment was inspired, in part, by some recent comments and activity I have been following on a local level, but its roots are as old as the sport of bowling itself. I am talking about the age old debate over which hand is easier to use when it comes to bowling, right handed or left handed, and the pitfalls bowlers fall into (mentally) by using this as an excuse for their own bad bowling. If you ask any number of righties out there, a majority of them would probably say that most lefties have the advantage because they have less traffic, so the shot should stay more stable for a longer period of time. But, if you ask a group of lefties, they would probably say righties have it easier due to the fact that a team of good right handed bowlers can “set up a lane” by all playing different parts of it with different types and surfaces of equipment so that the shot opens up, and the scores increase as the night goes on. Which one would be right? I don’t know, and I have been bowling now for over 20 years, but I will say there is a common theme that I wish all bowlers would follow, and that is to just shut up and throw the ball.
What I am saying is this, bowlers need to stop making excuses, and two of those instances are highlighted in the following: a) When your opponent bowls well and beats your brains in, and b) When you bowl bad and can’t seem to find a good line, or carry, etc. I will deal with scenario (a) first, as it is the one that drives me nuts when I hear other bowlers complain about it.
No matter how much you may not like to lose, it is going to happen at some point, and probably more often than not, even if you are the best of players. So, get used to it. I don’t mean you should be praising up everyone who beats you and sound like some care free lunatic running around, but use some common sense and just give your opponent their due when they beat you, that’s all. To me, there is nothing worse than a sore loser who constantly shows bad sportsmanship, and that can be a stigma that never leaves you no matter how much you try and change it down the road. Some people will always look at you as a poor sport, so try and create good sportsmanship habits now before its too late. This relates to the left handed / right handed debate because one of the first excuses that always comes out, if the person that beat you uses the opposite hand as yourself, is that they beat you because they were left handed (or right handed). This is the ultimate slap in the face to your opponent, as they can not help which hand they use, they are just trying to make the best shots possible, and you are tearing them down just because you think they have it so much “easier” than you do on their side of the lane. Unless you actually bowl on their side of the lane, you don’t have a clue as to whether that side is easier or harder, so just shut up about it. It’s a dumb argument, and lame at best. Why even go there and create drama? Be a good sport, congratulate your opponent on a good match, and try and bowl better next time out. The sport of bowling comes down to who can knock down the most pins in any given 10 frames, so you need to find out how to do that better than the person you are bowling against no matter what hand you use to do it, it’s just that simple. Concentrating less on how they are doing, and why they are doing it, will make you a better bowler, as you have shifted your focus from your opponent back onto your game, and you can make corrections quicker and more accurately this way. Sounds simple right? Well it really is when you think about it, and removing yourself from the negative mindset of finding ways to tear down how your opponent beat you, by tearing down your opponent themselves, will allow you to fully reach your potential on and off the lanes as a bowler.
Now, with scenario (b) from above, bowlers will also fall into the trap of blaming carry on losing, whether that be their own bad carry, or complaining that their opponent caught “all the breaks” and carried everything. This is just sour grapes to be honest, and makes you sound like a 4 year old who couldn’t have a cookie after supper. Whining, putting, and stomping your feet are all unattractive qualities, but some that far too many bowlers possess, as I have seen over the years. If you had poor carry, there is a reason for it, plain and simple. Bowling is a game that can be explained by physics, and if you could not carry strikes on a given day, then there is a scientific reason why it happened, and not just because the bowling gods were not on your side that day. You need to have the ability to clear your mind of distractions, and find a way to get the ball to carry strikes for you. The great Pete Weber once told me “there is ALWAYS a line out there, you just have to find it”, and he is 100% right. There is always a proper way to attack a lane, and it is up to you as a bowler to find the correct way to do it before your opponent does, period. But, if they figure it out before you, and happen to get dialed in and beat you, that doesn’t mean you should go around telling everyone that he (or she) “got lucky” or that you “couldn’t catch a break”. No, they figured it out better and faster than you did, so tip your hat to them, and vow to do the same to them the next time you face each other. This shows good sportsmanship and also shows your opponent that you will be ready the next time you face them since you didn’t make any dumb excuses this time around. I know as a bowler I never fear the person who whines when I beat them, but I do keep an eye out for the ones who just shake my hand and say great match. I know those bowlers mean business, and I may have just caught them on an off day, so I better be on my guard next time out. You see how much more respected you become when you show class and sportsmanship, not only for your opponent, but also for the sport of bowling in general? Trust me, when your opponent respects you it helps you out because there is a fine line between respect and fear, and if you happen to jump out to a lead on someone and they know you aren’t the type to fold or make excuses, it makes it harder for them to come back and beat you as they know you are a rock out on the lanes. So, it pays to grind out tough matches and give your opponent their due when they find a line and carry better than you on a given day, because the next time out, if you concentrate on your game and get the focus off of them, it can be you who wins the match with your superior mental game.
In closing, I would just like to say that my term in the beginning of “just shut up and throw the ball” may sound harsh, but I hope that you now understand exactly what I mean by that. Don’t make excuses on the lanes for poor play, and don’t down grade your opponent based on what hand they throw the ball with, or how they do it. Just show the same respect you would want them to show you, and you will find much more enjoyment out of the sport of bowling. None of us can win all the time, and it’s just as important to be a good loser, as it is to be a gracious winner. Once you master those two parts of the game, then you will truly be a good all around bowler and person on and off the lanes. Thanks for reading, and remember the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and in no way reflect those of the MSUSBC or any of its members. Please feel free to comment on anything you read, and I will try to respond as quickly as possible. Good luck and good bowling everyone!!!
James Goulding III
M.I.S.T. Tournament Director