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How Senior Bowlers Can Prepare For Competition Part 3


This is the third in a three part series of articles with tips on how senior bowlers can prepare for competition, part 3. Learning how senior bowlers can prepare for competition, part 3 will help senior players make best use of their practice and preparation time when targeting an important competition. Our first article addressed selecting a tournament where you can compete with players in your own age and skill set and with practicing physical game mechanics. The second article addressed various bowling balls and coverstocks to match with a range of lane oil conditions, and this article will discuss preparations for specific competitive events on your bowling calendar and what is needed to hit the pocket with a high degree of proficiency.

Practicing for a tournament or other special events you place importance upon should not be taken lightly. Practice does not merely refer to bowling several games at your local center to keep your arm loose but rather to use your practice time to simulate the tournament conditions you will face in your scheduled competition. Try to find out what type of lane conditions you will likely face when you arrive at the given event site. Use all of your existing bowling ball and bowling shoes equipment so you are familiar with which coverstock matches best to the oil conditions and which bowling shoes match the approach surface friction factor.

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If possible, locate a lane condition in your local area comparable to the event condition and try to practice on the condition you will face in the tournament. Spend time aligning yourself initially for the first game of practice in as many warm up deliveries as you will receive in the tournament where you are gearing up for competition. Initial alignment and being ready in the first frame of competition is important to take full advantage of the opportunity you have because you trained in advance being ready to go.

If you are familiar with the tournament condition, then getting aligned properly in four deliveries is achievable because as in Part 1 of this article series, we discussed exercising and stretching your limbs before competition. Proper initial alignment gives you an edge over bowlers "fishing for the line" in the first game. Usually tournaments most senior bowlers enter are not marathon type events but rather three games or perhaps five or six game sessions. In short durations tournament squads, you have a limited number of total frames for strike ball deliveries and, therefore, a limited number of chances at strikes in competition. Being aligned quickly so your chances of hitting the pocket at a relatively high degree of effectiveness gives you the best chance to strike in the limited number of deliveries resulting in high scores.

For example, in a three game session, you have 33 key strike delivery opportunities. If you fill the tenth frame with a strike, the eleventh frame is another chance to "double up" and increase your score. The twelfth frame is merely used to maximize pin count. In 33 key strike ball deliveries of a three game set, your strike ratio success will be directly proportional to the number of pocket hits you achieve. If you are aligned properly initially and are warmed up and ready to go, you might get 23-30 pocket deliveries and perhaps 60% of those deliveries will strike, perhaps more?

If the best pros on the Tour strike on an average of 60%-65% of their first ball deliveries, then likely that is what you should prepare to achieve in hopes of attaining that ratio of strikes to deliveries. Getting 16-20 strikes in your set of three games might mean getting 10-15 doubles or strings of strikes which increase your scores dramatically.

As you can tell, it is vital to hit the pocket as frequently as possible. Being aligned properly to the pocket and being ready to bowl in the first frame of competition are two key elements for success with the third being well practiced in spare shooting.

Another important key in adjustments is recognizing when to move on the approach and when to adjust your target on the lane. Recognizing when to switch bowling balls as the lanes transition from the amount of linage in the given tournament event is very useful in competition. Knowing where and when to make an adjustment on the tournament conditions will give you the edge over players who do not make good adjustments as quickly, both on the approach and at the targeting area on the lane but switching bowling balls as well. After all, we just established the importance of hitting the pocket at the highest possible percentage of deliveries so the ingredients which go into hitting the pocket as lane conditions transition during your sessions in competition rely on making fast and precise adjustments.

Unless you rehearse or practice on similar conditions at home as where you will compete and then practice your lane adjustments on the approach and at the targeting area on the lane, you won't have as good of an indication how much to adjust your feet and eyes on the lane as compared to if you do practice on tournament conditions. Same holds true for when to switch bowling ball coverstocks. It is vital, therefore, to also simulate bowling on the tournament conditions for the same number of games you will in competition, but also to have the same number of players on your practice pair of lanes as you will in competition.

To simulate the number of players, try to learn in advance what the format calls for such as team event (how many players per team per lane?), singles, or doubles? In singles and using one pair of practice lanes on a condition similar to the tournament condition, you will have likely four bowlers on the pair or two bowlers assigned to each lane. In that case, try to practice with three friends on the same pair of lanes. Why? Well, you will see the lane condition transition in the three games much differently than if you only practice only by yourself for three games on the pair of lanes.

Same logic holds true for doubles competition where you will likely have four bowlers per pair as in the case of the singles competition. Normally, team events have 8 - 10 bowlers on each pair of lanes and the lanes transition much differently due to higher amounts of linage during the given session than do singles and doubles competitions. Although you bowl in league at your home center, if you encounter a lane oil condition different than you house condition at home, then the team event lane transition will differ from your league conditions and that is where getting practice on the event oil pattern will help you anticipate the adjustments needed to hit the pocket with a high percentage of deliveries.

As stated in the Part 2 article, not only is it important to have an arsenal with various bowling ball coverstocks but to also have coverstocks textured to a grit finish which will match with the tournament patterns. It is also important to understand the drilling layout with each ball in your arsenal so you can augment the ball motion beyond the capabilities provided by the general construction of the ball.

Many players, therefore, choose to bring an undrilled ball to drill at the event site if they need a special piece of equipment. Give some thought to either investing in a new ball at the event site or to bringing at least one undrilled ball and then decide on a drilling layout at the event site using local pro shop services. Please do not shy away from using a hybrid coverstock ball or from having one handy to switch to when the lanes dry and the patterns changes during the tournament sessions.


Practicing in advance on the tournament pattern will give you an edge in competition over those who do not. Being warmed up and ready to go in four deliveries is another edge and a good objective for you while preparing for competition. Making sensible lane adjustments and knowing your equipment are other keys to hitting the pocket consistently in tournament play. Don't be unprepared. Practice on similar tournament lane conditions, work with your pro shop and get your equipment ready to go and, if need be, take a lesson from a certified bowling instructor so your game is tuned and you are ready to bowl. We hope these tips help.

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