How Senior Bowlers Can Prepare For Competition – Part 1
If you are a senior bowler and are finding it more and more difficult to compete with young players, this is the first in a three part series of articles
with a few tips on how senior bowlers can prepare for competition
in league and tournament play. Learning how senior bowlers can prepare for competition
will help players make best use of their physical tools although old "Father Time" is catching up quickly as evidenced by noticeable losses in certain reflexes. Some of the obvious reductions in physical skills are ball speed, flexibility in the legs and knees while taking an approach, the arm swing radius, and hand action while releasing the bowling ball
Although many tournament organizations consider 50 years of age the beginning of senior age divisions, it is typically at age 55 and beyond where the greatest challenges lie for senior bowlers to remain competitive. In fact, from ages 55 to 67, senior bowlers notice a marked reduction in physical skills in comparison to only 10 years prior. Senior bowlers ages 68 and above are most certainly in need of being classified as "super senior" bowlers because of the next level of reduction in physical skills.
There are bowling tournaments
where literally thousands of senior bowlers enjoy competing in each year, both locally and nationally, and where senior bowlers have very difficult times competing against younger and more powerful players. Some tournament organizations will utilize a senior division, usually for bowlers age 50 - 60 years, and a super-senior division for bowlers 60 - 67 years, and super, super-senior divisions for bowlers more than 67 years of age, so everyone entered may compete against their own age levels of players.
Great events such as the prestigious USBC Open Championship, in the Regular Division for example, or USBC State Tournaments or City and County Tournaments are some events where senior players holding fairly high entering averages of 180 or more find themselves struggling to compete against younger players. Although senior bowlers who have enjoyed participating in these type of tournaments for many years and have been competitive many times in the past, the age difference certainly makes it even more challenging to remain competitive after 55 years of age and certainly after 65 years of age, and so on.bowlingball.com
suggests that senior players consider finding more tournaments to compete in which provide age divisions and where becoming a member is a requirement to compete. Try selecting tournaments which allow you more opportunities to complete with players of similar skills and ages. This is certainly not to suggest in any way, however, that events such as USBC tournaments should be avoided but only to make you aware that as your age increases, you can find more events to compete in by searching for groups with age divisions than purely competing in events which place you directly in the path of the explosiveness of the young and talented players in today's world of bowling.
If you are a senior player, what can you do, therefore, to maximize your present skills and prepare for a tournament where you know upon entering the tournament that you are going to be facing a high level of competition? In Part 1 of this series, let's discuss a few physical game techniques to bolster your game:1. Footwork
- many senior bowlers have used a slow pace of footwork very effectively for many years and are very accurate in their deliveries. However, over the years, if a loss in muscle flexibility has shortened your steps, you undoubtedly have experienced a loss in leverage and ball speed which had been developed from use of the big muscles in the legs. Short steps do not allow for effective use of the big muscles in your legs and will cause a breakdown in power. When preparing for a tournament or some meaningful competition, practice taking a longer stride, perhaps a couple of inches longer, with the steps leading into and including the slide step. Slightly longer steps and perhaps just a bit faster tempo, so long as you do not lose balance, will restore some loss of leverage and ball speed.2. Knee Action
- as bowlers age, it is typical to notice a loss in knee flexibility and this usually results in not bending or flexing the knees deeply enough throughout the steps to the foul line. When the knees are flexed, perhaps one or two inches flexed, the big muscles of the legs are more in use than compared to a stiff-legged walking motion. Try using more knee flex with a longer stride and you will find increased power generated from your legs.3. Swing
- as with the legs, a loss in swing flexibility will typically shorten the height of the back swing and slow the speed of the forward swing entering into the release zone. Try to make a swift back swing so swing momentum will lengthen your swing arc and create more speed on your forward swing which in turn will propel your bowling ball at a faster launch velocity. It is important to keep your arm muscles loose and relaxed during your swing motion. Relaxed muscles move more quickly than tense or controlled muscles in your swing motion.4. Follow Through
- loss of ball speed is generally related to a reduction in forward swing speed and containment of the swing completion. Develop an aggressive follow through swing motion on each delivery without losing balance during the release of the bowling ball. Remain solid at the foul line and loosely follow through to a completed and high swing finishing motion without trying to use your head and torso to propel the ball but rather allowing your swing to complete its full cycle back and through to a full-follow through position.5. Loft
- loss of ball velocity and power comes decelerating the forward swing, rotating the bowling ball
before your hand reaches release zone, and from losing the ball into the approach floor. Try releasing the ball using enough loft and speed to propel the ball perhaps 24 inches or more past the foul line and into the lane at a gradual angle of descent and by staying behind the ball as long as possible before your release. Getting the ball well past the foul line using a full follow through with a loose and aggressive swing motion with your hand behind the ball will shorten the lane and conserve your ball energy so the ball will not react too soon and lose power at impact with the pins. Practice getting the ball over the foul line with maximum ball speed until you have gained control and confidence in doing so before you enter your competitive tournament events.6. Exercise
- use of proven stretching exercises recommended by fitness professionals or by medical doctors is highly recommended. Strengthening and stretching your legs muscles is what every successful athlete does before competition. Develop an exercise regimen for both your leg, arm, and upper body and train yourself to be a more aggressive bowler. The effort will most certainly pay dividends in your bowling scores.
Hope these tips help? bowlingball.com
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