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A Sound Strategem in Time Can Turn a Looming Defeat Into Victory – October 2009 – Par Bowling by Tom Kouros

FROM TIME TO TIME, we witness a bowler perform in a seeminly wild, frenzied manner... only to discover later that there was a method to his madness. In contrast, we occasionally see a bowler playing the game in a methodical, somewhat lackadaisical manner; again, only to learn later that this manner was preconceived.

In both cases, the manner of play is attributable to strategems. A strategem is a cleverly contrived scheme in order to gain an end. Many strategems are used in bowling, but the primary one is concerned with lane conditions.

In order to realize optimum results, then, a bowler must have some understanding about the characteristics of the lanes. To gain this knowledge, start by asking management about the manner in which the lanes have been conditioned.

Next, discuss the conditions with bowlers who have previously bowled in the center. Also, roll some practice shots to better appreciate the condition. Knowledge can be secured by studying the reaction of your ball on
the lane, as well as carefully studying the reaction of the pins. A great deal can be learned, too, by watching others with regard to how they are playing the lanes and how their balls are reacting. Having grasped a “feel”
for the lane condition, you can then determine whatball to use, what line to play, what ball speed to choose
and, finally, what degree of lift to employ, as opposed to turn, and vice-versa.

Another important strategem is to reasonably assess your game. Is your swing well-leveraged? Is your ball reacting as it normally does? Competition is no place for practice. In competition, the intelligent bowler does not
spend too many costly frames looking for his “strong game.” Learn to play what you’ve got. Many apparent defeats have been turned into victories by bowlers who have employed this strategy. For example, if your ball is not hooking as much as usual, don’t experiment with different hand releases — move to the outside and use more angle. By not attempting to correct your game, you might not bowl your best, but usually, you will have a better chance of winning the match.

Another key strategem is knowing your opponent’s game determine your style of play. How can this knowledge be advantageous? Well, most bowlers fall into one of two categories; those who display a game with more “action” (or more hook ), and those with more accuracy who roll a more modest ball (less hook). Also, within all of us is
the choice to approach the game on a given day in a more conservative manner, or with more aggression. This does not imply change in style or technique, but simply relates to one’s strategical decision. Usually, this determination is made by our physical state at the time. If we feel loose, free and energetic, we are prone to
“attacking” the pins. If, on the other hand, we feel tight, listless or somewhat tired, we are inclined to play a more “laid back” or conservative game.

Quite often, however, this choice is made by the lane condition and the nature of your opponent’s game. If you are in a center where the pin carry is more difficult, for instance, you may decide to play a more conservative game... unless you discover your opponent is having little trouble with pin carry. Seeing this, good strategy now dictates you become more aggressive. The important thing to remember is that not only conditions, but also your
opponent’s ability, could direct your style of play. Your primary goal is to defeat your opponent; against this measure, your score is secondary, a noteworthy strategem. These are some good reasons for employing sound
strategems. Of course, there are others. With application and experience, you will discover them. For now, remember to think out each match or contest and use sound strategems at your disposal to improve your odds for success.