|Staying Sharp In Summer|
Although bowling is played indoors and is a true year-round sport, many folks who are regular fall/winter league bowlers opt to take the summer off. For you bowlers out there who fall into this category, this week's column will focus on how to stay sharp in the off season so when you come back to your league in the month of September, you have as little rust to work off as possible.
The first and most obvious piece of advice to keep you sharp during summer is to practice regularly. But if you don't feel like you have the time to get in to the center on a regular basis to roll a few games, then make it into a recreational outing. Instead of grinding your way through a practice session where you're "working on your game" invite a few friends out to the lanes for a little fun and friendly competition. Maybe even use this time to introduce friends or family members to the game while showing them how much fun it is to bowl. The biggest reason I hear recreational bowlers give for not joining a league is that they "don't think they're good enough." Take these people out, show them a good time and get them started on the path to becoming a league bowler. This will also allow you to get out and throw the ball, but will also remind you of the reasons you took up the game in the first place, keeping your mind fresh and passionate for next season.
Next, for those of you who absolutely can or will not make an appearance at the local bowling center during the summer, one way to help your bowling is to keep a fitness regimen. The summer months are a perfect time to go outside and enjoy the fresh air and warm weather, and a few ways to enjoy them while also helping your bowling game is to focus primarily on increasing your leg strength. In bowling, your legs are the key to improving balance and power, which in turn improves accuracy and carry percentage, and anything you can do to enhance their strength will show up in improving your scores when leagues start back up again in the Fall. The best exercise for strengthening your legs that I've found is biking, which strengthens your thighs, hamstrings, glutes and quads. All of these muscles work together for bowling to help give you a stronger pivot step and better balance at the line. If you don't have a bike, then the next best thing is walking or jogging, especially in an area with lots of hills. If none of these activities work for you, then some simple leg exercises for 10-20 minutes each day can be done at home while watching your favorite TV show. Squats or body bends supported on one leg at a time work very well for strengthening the legs for bowling.
If you absolutely, positively do not have any interest in anything I've said above, and all you want to do during your summer off is relax, then my last suggestion is for you to read one or more of the many great books out there about the sport of bowling. Two of the solid books out there about the physical and mental aspects of bowling are Bowling Execution by John Jowdy and Focused for Bowling by Dr. Dean Hinitz. If you're more interested in reading about the fun side of bowling, then The Tour Would be Great IF You Didn't Have to Bowl is a series of stories from funnyman Lenny Nicholson, who was the PBA's lane maintenance expert for over 30 years. There are tons of other great books and videos out there as well, just check them out in the "gifts/collectibles section" of Bowlersparadise.com.
Since I love bowling so much, I can't understand why anyone would want to be away from it for more than a few weeks at a time. But if you must, I hope you'll at least make good use of that time and that when you do come back, it'll be with renewed energy and passion for the sport!
Till next time,