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If the Top Part of Your Body Isn’t Properly Aligned, You Could Be Heading for Trouble – August 2010 – Par Bowling By Tom Kouros

ALMOST FROM THE DAWN OF sports instruction, athletes have been
admonished with the expression, “Use your head,” suggesting some
cerebral activity in almost every sport. It also begs the question as to
what role the head actually plays in a given sport or competition. We
can best answer the question by reviewing some basics.

The head consists of 22 bones, eight of which form the upper part, or cranium, which is akin to a box holding the brain. The cranium protects the brain which, for the average adult male, weighs about 50 ounces. The brain consumes more energy than any other organ, burning up one-fifth of the fuel we take in. One-quarter of the brain is used to control the eyes. We actually “see” with our brains, while the eyes basically serve as cameras.

A sound mind dwells in a sound body. Plato was the first to express this view, and though this axiom is not entirely true, there is no question the brain often functions better after exercise. Similar to your muscles, the brain is favorably stimulated by extensive workouts. Proof of this is increasingly demonstrated as a growing number of senior citizens continue to exhibit a keen mental acumen via the benefits of regular exercise. And despite all the complexity of the brain, you still have only one thought at a time. So strive to make it a positive thought.

The size and weight of the head varies from person to person. Nevertheless, it is a significant factor, especially when you consider its location at the top of the skeletal frame, which affords it the opportunity to exert a much greater force than its weight would suggest. Indeed, moving your head to one side or the other can unhinge an otherwise smooth approach.

The fundamental rule regarding the position of the head throughout the approach is: The head should maintain the position adopted in the
stance, relative to where the eyes are affixed on the target. As a rule, it should stay in this position, like a “passenger,” while the rest of the body works its way to the foul line.

There is one exception to that: Many advanced bowlers, using a “line method” to aim, re-adjust their eyes to the target as they move through the approach. Line bowling is basically two strategically placed locations on the lane, at least six feet apart, over which a player can imagine a straight, connecting line. This requires the head to move. For example, some bowlers in the stance fix their eyes at the arrows, but midway through the approach, they shift their sight to a spot approximately two or three feet beyond the foul line. This requires the head to move downward slightly.

Aside from this single exception, moving the head during the approach usually invites trouble. It is somewhat like a beginning dancer who looks down at his feet, or the golfer who looks up before striking the ball. Among other things, moving the head hinders the natural flow and cadence of the performance. Also, it randomly affects accuracy since the eyes are often “pulled” off the target.

In summation, unless you’re accommodating a well-practiced line method, keeping the head still is an elementary and logical principle in bowling, as it is in many sports.

One caveat: Don’t get in the habit of using the movement of the head as an excuse for a multitude of problems. After making a bad shot, a player often will say, “I looked up,” unjustly giving this as the reason for his poor execution, when the real problem was an unrelated error.

Don’t con yourself. For example, if you effect a release with little extension and an inordinate amount of lift (thus cutting off your follow-through), your head will necessarily snap upward. The blame lies not with the head, but with the curtailed follow-through. Therefore, with any and all mistakes made, be sure to adhere to the sagacious axiom: “Differentiate between what is cause and what is effect.”

Posted with permission from Luby Publishing Inc.