Author Archives: cotter5

2011 USBC Masters – Amatuer’s View – Final Thoughts

The past few days have given me an opportunity that I have only dreamed of, participating in a PBA event.  Even though it didn’t end in a story book ending, it did give me an experience I’ll always remember and given the opportunity will happily do it again.  It did help having bowled the USBC Open here in Reno last year and knowing what the stadium would be like.

My kudos to the stadium staff.  They were pleasant and helpful.  They helped everyone with courtesy and respect regardless of stature, amatuer or pro.  They also made sure that all equipment the players would need was available for them.  You could do all ball maintenance necessary in the paddock short of ball drilling.  Ball drilling may not have been available in the paddock, but the was a pro shop truck available for that.

The number of balls the touring pros go through is staggering.  They made my 5 ball arsenal look like a bb gun.  The some of the pros also collaborated with each other setting up their equipment.  It had the feel of a team on league night with teammates borrowing from each other.

Most of the bowlers were friendly and approachable.  Most of the touring pros would say hi and talk if you approached them.  I found Carolyn Dorin-Ballard very easy to talk and joke with while we were bowling one of the sweepers.  The same could be said of some of the regional pros.  I bowled a sweeper with a regional pro JT ‘Action’ Jackson.  He was a character and though we were struggling, you wouldn’t have known it by talking to us.

On the flip side, there were some that seemed to look down their noses at amatuers.  There wasn’t a lot of comradery between bowlers out on the lanes.  Some yes, but not as a general rule.  I felt like a fish out of water with congratulations (open hand) and good try (fist).  It’s almost as if acknowledging someone else’s accomplishments you are admitting defeat.

Case in point, I was watching a few lanes this morning.  There were 3 bowlers per pair of lanes.  On one pair was Brad Angelo and on the other pair was Jack Jurek.  During game 3 of this morning Brad rolled 10 strikes in a row before it ended in the 11th.  Jack was the only person to acknowledge the accomplishment out of the 9 bowlers in the general area.

I grew up being taught sportsmanship.  Everyone wants to win, and I was taught to acknowledge the victor when the contest is over.  It’s hard, I know.  I don’t like to lose, but displaying a lack of sportsmanship isn’t the way to do it.  I guess I was expecting a tighter friendlier community.

The hardest thing for me to adjust to was 2 lane courtesy.  There were plenty of bowlers that felt you should know what they’re thinking.  The were a couple that seemed to have a new manner of letting you go first or wanting to go first.  Personally, I found rather annoying, but this is how the PBA works and you have to adapt.  I will admit struggling with signals.  Back home I was often told I take a long time and didn’t want to slow anyone down while I was here.  Oh well, there’s always something new to learn.

Overall, this has been an enjoyable and educational trip for me.  One, as I stated before, given the opportunity I’d repeat without a second thought.  Good luck and good bowling everyone.


2011 USBC Masters – Amatuer’s View – Day 4

My goal going into today was to bowl 5 clean games.  I figured if I could do that then I would hopefully finish on the positive side. As of the completion of Squad B’s last 5 games I was tied for 129th.  I was determined not to start any game with 2 opens.  Of the goals I mentioned, I only accomplished one.  I didn’t start any game with 2 opens, something that occurred twice yesterday.  A small accomplishment but not enough to really help me today.

I start the game with a 4-pin spare then a strike and try to settle myself in.  That lasted to the fourth frame when I missed inside of my target and left the 3-10 baby split.  I whiff the 3-pin and take out the 10-pin.  It was close and didn’t feel too bad.  Until 2 frames later the Greek church (3-4-6-7-9-10) appears.  I finish with a 161 game that had 2 opens and 2 strikes.

New lanes new game.  My first shot is high and leaves the 3-9-10 split.  Because of the 9-pin I decide to use my strike ball instead of my spare ball.  The problem with this option is the strike ball probably won’t deflect much to hit the 10-pin if it’s not out far enough.  Sure enough, because I think about the fear, I make it a reality.  Mental mistake, never think of the bad just before you roll the ball.  This game would be the only game that I miss a single pin.  I whiff a 7-pin and end with a 151 game.

The next set of lanes provide me with the only bright spot of my day, I throw a clean game 222.  Finally, a positive game.  That would be short lived.  The first ball of the next game leaves the 3-6-9-10 combination.  Because of my previous strike ball attempt I decide to use the spare ball.  The 9-pin disagreed with this option and I start another game with an open frame.  I’m able to prevent starting with two open frames.  The only issue is a couple of frames later I leave the 2-10 split.  Trying to pick it up I whiff both pins.  I finish with a 2 open 173 game.

Bound and determined to have one more bright spot, I’m determined to bowl well this last game.  My only mistake this game was the 1-2-4-7 in the 4th frame which I whiff the headpin.  I’m able to keep it together and finish with a 192 game, striking in the 12th frame. 

This set was my best for single pin spares, only missed one.  It was my best as far as fewest opens in total.  It wasn’t my best in regards to strikes.  I had 2 the first game, 1 in the 2nd game, 5 in the 3rd game, 2 in the 4th game, and 4 in the 5th game.

Just about every mechanical flaw I have tried to work on reared its ugly head this set.  I relaxed my wrist, tried to work the inside release, spent more time inside or outside of my intended target, as well as improper swing plane.  I have a greater respect what the pros do.  Physically I feel taxed, but not too bad.  I might have a different opinion if I had another tournament like this to bowl next week.  This has definitely been an enlightening experience.  Will I ever be a pro, probably not?  It takes considerable desire (that I’m not short on), time (that can be a challenge), money (either a flexible job, sponsorship, and or a combination of both), and support (the family will need to be supportive).  Stay tuned for my final thoughts edition.  Good luck and good bowling.

2011 USBC Masters – Amatuer’s View – Day 3

Well. I think that word sums up the way my day went. I was hoping for +25 for 5 games. Needless to say, I didn’t quite get there. Though there were moments when I thought I would and then I lost focus and the bottom fell out. I know this is the PBA and things are very challenging, but as I’m finding out, there is some much more I don’t know.

I have been a coach for over 15 years and just a babe in the woods compared to some of these guys. There’s so much more to learn and do. This is not giving up, just a realization to a burning question of mine. I need more work to be ready for the PBA. I’m on the cusp, and there is a lot of work that needs to be accomplished to take that step. Now I go back tomorrow to do what I couldn’t do today and that is to piece together 5 of the best games I can bowl. That way I can leave Reno knowing that I gave everything I had and know where I stand among the elite.

I started out the first game and was doing well and then I ran into a 4-pin hiccup. Minor inconvenience and I put it behind me to finish with a 212. Which compared to my previous first games was a major improvement. We moved 14 lanes right and started again. This game I felt better and started with 5-in-a-row. I was able to keep this one clean and end with a 225. That put me at +37 and I was on top of the world. Well, there was one thing I forgot about being on top of the world, watch where you step.

The next game brought me abruptly back to reality. I started by missing a 6-pin. I told myself no problem it’s one frame and come back the next one. The next ball was in the pocket, but a little weak and left a 10-pin. I missed a little right and left the 10-pin. Now I’m starting with two opens and trying to find a way to keep myself from self-destructing. Too late, self-destruct sequence had been initiated and count down was commencing. I would open two more times missing the baby split (3-10) and chopping the 3-6 combination to finish with a 161. That put me at –2 after 3 games.

Determined to erase that disaster, I renewed my efforts and bowled a clean 222 game. Now I’m at +20 and thinking I might have a chance. Then I let my guard down again and went through one disaster after another.

I started my last game not being able to hit the broad side of a barn being super glued to it. I start by missing the 4-pin. Okay, relax and come back strong. My next shot is a touch outside and leaves me the 1-3-8-10, of which I pick up two pins. I’m able to pick-up a couple of spares and a strike until I get a little wide again and leave the 1-2-4-10. Again, I’m only able to add two pins to my score. I get up in the 7th really needing to put a decent score up and bury a strike. Trying to positively talk to myself, I get up in the 8th and ring a 10-pin. After making the 10-pin, I’m at 108 in the 7th working on a spare in the 8th. Knowing what I need, I bury another strike in the 9th. Getting the first two in the 10th would give me a shot at 180 and remaining on the plus side for the day. As fate would have it, I came around the ball a little and was a touch inside and left the 4-9 split and finished with a 156 game. Leaving me at –24 and tied for 71st place out of 126 bowlers. This is Squad A only and Squad B has yet to bowl.

As I put in my other posts and if you were keeping track, I had 9 opens. 4 of the opens were singles pins, one combination and some washouts. The multiple pin spares can be tricky, but to miss single pin spares. Single pin spares leave quite a bit behind. Those 4 spares are worth 44 pins. That could have put me at +20 and tied for 47th and only 5 pins off my goal and having to roll a 216 average for 5 games for a shot at the cut.

Realistically, being in 71st position out of 126, after Squad B I’m tied for 143. I guess I don’t believe in doing things the easy way. I still have my goal, that I feel is reasonable and to finish the tournament at +50. Based on last year’s cut for the top 65, it took +100 make the money round. Based on the pattern and my performance to date, I have averaged 194.

I am capable of bowling a 225 average and on league conditions I would give myself better than average odds. At the Masters, I think going after 215 for 5 games is going to test me. I’m going to do everything in my power to finish this tournament at +50. That would be a 205 average for 10 games and I’ll take it.

I will admit, I’ve had my chances and let them slip through my fingers. I’ll shoot for my goal and let the rest take care of itself. Good luck and good bowling.

2011 USBC Masters – Amatuer’s View – Day 2

The field for the tournament is about 256 bowlers.  About 26 are touring pros, probably as many amatuers, and the rest are regional pros.  It’s quite a diverse group with just as diverse styles.  It just shows that there’s only one rule in bowling, there are no style rules in bowling you just have to be able to repeat it.

Today was mandatory practice for all participants based on their squad.  Squad A was at 2:30pm and Squad B was at 4pm.  There was another sweeper at 7pm.  I spent my time working on a few items that I found yesterday.  The main items needing attention were staying on target or just inside of target and mutliple pin spares.  I will say I’m glad I started throwing a plastic ball at my spares.  Trying to hook at spares in this tournament would drive me nuts.

Practice seemed to go pretty good.  I tried the Passion and found that it had inside forgiveness but could be prone to leaving the 10-pin, even if I was firm and strong with the release.  Might be a good ball to transition from the Red Alien to the Invasion to the Special Agent.  That’s my game plan right now.  Based on what I have encountered in 3 hours of practice and 8 sweeper games, I think the plan might work.

Mentally I think I’m starting to prepare myself for qualifying.  Physically is another matter.  The tape wasn’t quite right in the thumb hole and the lip was a little sharp and the thumb started wearing.  Before it got any worse I invested in some skin patch.  I’d use the skin tape, but it would require reworking the thumb holes that I finally have comfortable.  Right now everything feels pretty good considering I’ve done more bowling in two days than I’ve done in 2 weeks, including practice.

Tonight’s sweeper had more big names than last night and and 2.5 times more participants for 3 games.  Fewer games is a double-edged sword.  On one edge you have fewer games to make mistakes in, but on the other you have fewer games to recover from a bad game.  I fell into the latter tonight. 

I started out alright with a strike followed by 2 spares and then the wheels came off.  By the time the game ended I had a 3 open 178 game.  Two of the spares were very makeable.  The only positive, tonight’s start was 10 pins better than last night.  That put me at -22 and in 59th place out of 83.  As I explain to the kids, you have to forget the last game and start over.  That was going to be hard considering my goal was to be +15 for the sweeper.

The next game was a new set of lanes.  This time I focused a little better and it showed.  The only open frame was the 12th.  I left the head pin from a washout.  Like I tell the kids, you can’t make your spares if you don’t hit the lead pin.  I finshed with a 230 which put me at +8.  I went from 59th to 24th.  Amazing how much of a differnce 30 pins can make.

Feeling good about my game I started of the next game 10-pin, strike, 10-pin, and 10-pin.  Then I went on a two frame vacation.  Feeling like everything was slipping away, I had to focus myself on what I could do and forget the bad frames.  Again as I tell the kids, positive thoughts yield positive results.   I finshed with a 204 and was at +12.  Not bad consdering where I started myself.  I finshed in 24th and missed cashing by 1 pin.

If you’re keeping track I had 6 opens tonight.  I’ll take away the wash-out and that leaves 5 opens, that’s 55 pins.  Had I had those, I would’ve cashed in 10th place.  I can’t emphasize more how important spares are.

Tomorrow is day 3 and the first day of qualifying.  I start on lanes 15 and 16.  I’m not paired with any touring pros, but am bowling beside Jason Couch and Rick Steelsmith.  Most of the other touring pros are lanes away from me.  Tomorrow is my chance to show that I can learn from practice and do better.  Good luck and good bowling.

2011 USBC Masters – Amatuer’s View

I haven’t posted in a long while and thought I’d give you an amatuer’s view of participating in the 2011 USBC Masters.  The trip from Maine wasn’t bad, a little tiring.  The best thing, my luggage and bowling equipment made it with me.  I didn’t have to wait and wonder where it was.  Looking at this year’s roster there are quite a few pros and bowlers from around the world.

Some of the pros include; Liz Johnson, Chris Warren, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Chris Barnes, Norm Duke, Walter Ray Willams, Jr, and many more.  The countries represent include; Finland, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Australia, Argentina, Columbia, and the Phillipines.

Today was optional practice.  Being my first trip to the Masters and having reviewed last year’s pattern, I wasn’t going to give up any chance to practice on the pattern shot.  The arsenal I brought to the Master’s was the Storm Invasion, Elite Red Alien, Storm Paradigm Passion, Storm Special Agent, and the Hammer Black Widow plastic ball.  I thought I had a good pattern of ball use worked out only to have to trash 5 frames into practice.

The Invasion (supposed to be my aggressive ball) was limping to the pocket.  It spent more time sliding than turning.  I tried a couple of different releases and nothing seemed to remedy my issue.  I may need to take the Invasion up to 2000 and see if that helps, I have it a little lower than that.  Just to see what would happen I picked up the Red Alien.  Boy am I glad I didn’t leave it behind like I was going to.  The Red Alien seemed to have everything I needed in a ball.

I found I was able to play a similar line to Family Fun Bowling Center, but a little more left on the approach.  Looking at the pattern from last year, 39′ very little crown and alot flatter than a house pattern.  Practice went well.  I found the higher end of the stadium played better than the lower end.  The lower was a lot tighter and a much smaller margin of error.  If you’re afforded time to practice on the pattern, I would strongly encourage that you don’t skip it.

There was a 5 game sweeper following practice and I decided to give it a go.  I figured any practice I could get on the pattern would be worth the cost.  The first game I struggled to control myself.  It seemed my arm had a mind of its own which made hitting target a slight challenge.  I struggled to a 168, very humbling.  I missed three makeable spares.  The next game I seemed to be a little more comfortable and was able to forget the previous game.  This time I was able to finish with 223, but again missed another makeable single pin spare.  That left me at -9 and in 14th place.

The next game I seemed to feel that I might have something figured out and shot a clean game 210.  That put me at +1 and in 12th place, 2 pins ahead of Liz Johnson.  That would be the last time she trailed me.  The next game would bring me quickly back to reality.  4 open frames in a row will do that in a hurry.  Only one could be considered a challenge to pick-up.  I finished with a 161 that put me at -38 and dropped to 19th place.  Liz Johnson was now 17 pins and 3 positions ahead of me.

The last game was the hardest I ever worked for a 182.  Again another open frame appearred, this one was the baby split (3-10).  Again I had trouble hitting target, pulling it inside more than I was pushing like the other two games.  If you’re keeping track, I had 9 open frames.  I give myself a pass on one being the wash-out, I sent the head pin out and around the 10-pin, close but no cigar. 

For kids reading this that’s 8 open frames which means about 88 pins left behind.  Had I made my spares, I might have been +50.  You notice I didn’t say more strikes, just my spares.  Instead of being 20th out of 33, I could’ve been 4th and earned my money back.

Tomorrow, 7 Feb, is mandatory practice and another sweeper.  Another day to try to improve.  Good luck and good bowling.

USBC Award Changes for 2009-2010 by Ed Cotter

USBC Award Changes for 2009-2010 by Ed Cotter

So much for writing twice a month during the summer. This blog as going to be about new opportunities for USBC members. Instead, I’d like to highlight the recently implemented award changes for the upcoming (2009-2010) season.

USBC embers, youth and dult, will notice that the traditional 80, 100, 120, 140, 160, and 180 game awards have been replaced with 125, 150, and 175 game awards. two others, 225 and 275 game awards have been added to the list. With these game award changes, there are new average limits to be considered for earning the awards.

The series awards have changed also. The 200 series, youth and adult, has been dropped. For the youth, series awards now include 50 pin increments. 350, 450, 550, 650, and 750 series awards have been added. For adults, the 300, 400, 500, 600, and 700 series awards remain. Both youth and adults have new average limits to consider for earning a series award. One example is an adult could earn a 700 series if their average was 210 or below. Now the average limit for the 700 series is 190 and below.

The ‘once in a lifetime’ has not been implemented yet and remains highly debated.

The honor score, (11 in a row, 300 game, and 800 series), awards for adults remain unchanged. Youth this season (2009-2010) will now be eligible for rings for their honor versus last season’s (2008-2009) medallion.

There are two new award programs, Bowlopolis (youth) and PBA Experience (adult). Bowlopolis is geared towards lower average youth bowlers. PBA Experience is being recognized as it’s own entity versus an option within the Sport Bowling framework.

Only time will tell if USBC has taken the right steps in their awards restructure. I encourage everyone to provide feedback (good and or bad) to this blog, to your association board, and to USBC. Any comments left on this blog will be forwarded to our state association board and USBC.

As always, good luck and good bowling!!!

Single Pins, Near Perfection or Disaster – part 3 by Ed Cotter

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!!