Maxing Out Your Score - Part 2

  By Brian Voss

In our last column, we talked about a couple of ways that the pros use to max out their score and save as many pins as possible. Specifically, we discussed the importance of throwing straight at your spares and also the practice of moving left in small increments after each strike shot to stay on top of the constantly changing oil pattern. This time, I'd like to give you two more tricks that will help you get the most out of your score.

First, one of the most common mistakes I see amateurs making is a reluctance to play the lanes in a place that is outside their normal comfort zone. Insisting on playing the second arrow, when it is obvious that the third arrow is the place that provides the best margin for error is a sure way to sink your score. A perfect example of this is the PBA's Cheetah pattern, which is always the highest-scoring of the five patterns used on Tour. In fact, critics have said for years that the Cheetah pattern is too easy and produces a ridiculously high scoring pace. Some have even said that it should never be used again. But the interesting thing, now that there are PBA Experience Leagues sanctioned by the USBC, is that the Cheetah pattern is actually the LOWEST scoring pattern for amateurs. The reason for this is that most amateurs are not comfortable playing the extreme outside part of the lane, which is where you must play in order to take advantage of the Cheetah pattern's short oil dressing and extremely dry backends. Consequently, while the pros average 21 pins higher on the Cheetah pattern than the more difficult Shark pattern, amateurs actually perform better on the Shark because there is more oil and it allows them to play closer to their comfort zone.

That leads us to my final topic, which is the importance of experiencing as many new conditions and environments as possible through practice. The way that most of us pros reached the level we're at today is through a constant desire to learn new tricks and new ways to play lane conditions which we found difficult in the past. We can see proof of this desire in the ability of some of the players on Tour to compete equally on widely diverse lane conditions. The best of the best have learned the most efficient way to play on all of the five different oil patterns to give them a chance to win any given week. And they gained this knowledge and experience the old-fashioned way, through hard work, perseverance and a willingness to keep an open mind and try new things. An open mind is your biggest asset in bowling, because the environment is constantly changing from week to week, game to game and frame to frame. And the more you practice and experience new environments, the more tools you'll be able to access when the time comes to use them.

At the end of the day, bowling is simply a game of trying to knock down the most pins in the fewest number of shots. The reason the pros are the pros is because we have this down to an art of throwing away the fewest pins possible. On Tour, the difference between averaging 225 and 220 for a season can put you tens of thousands of dollars apart in the standings. For amateurs, the consequences are not nearly as severe, but the satisfaction of knowing that you're making strides toward your own personal goals can be just as satisfying.

Till next time,

Brian Voss


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