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If You Are Compensating on Too Many Shots It May Be Time for Another Practice Session – February 2010 – Par Bowling by Tom Kouros

WHEN IT COMES TO TENPIN FORM, “Dave the Dilettante” personifies bowling balletomania. He assumes the stance with flair and grace, then employs a meticulous adagio style in the approach, his feet emulating the dexterity of a ballerina strongly influenced by George Ballanchine, the great choreographer.

He then glides to the foul line where, with great aplomb, he finalizes the shot with a breathtaking arabesque. Yes-sir-ee, our nimble danseur would be the uncontested master of the sport if bowling paid off on form instead of toppled pins. Alas, it doesn’t.

Bowling’s ultimate challenge is to demonstrate a high level of accuracy, coupled with action skills, to realize the highest probability of effecting strikes. Note the term “highest probability.” One must accept the fact that good shots do not always strike. The bowling neophyte soon learns that perfection is impossible. As Earl Anthony often said, “It’s the bowler who makes the least number of mistakes that prevails; a perfectionist doesn’t exist.”

The truth is there is yet another critical factor that must be addressed if a bowler is to achieve his or her true potential; that factor is compensation, which refers to making an adjustment in one’s bowling shot in order to nullify a mistake that has been made.

Compensations are not the same as allowances. The difference: allowances are pre-planned. Compensations, on the other hand, are made spontaneously, many times instinctively and always while the bowler is in motion.

A good example of an allowance is when a righthander moves farther left on the approach when the ball is hooking too much.

A good example of compensation is exaggerating the swing to the right when sensing a leftward drift in the approach.

Another term often used by skilled bowlers for compensation is “saving the shot.” The intelligent bowler, knowing the human susceptibility to making mistakes, is alert to compensating when sensing such is needed to give the shot a chance for success. For example, take the bowler who overstrides the key step (the step on which you put the ball in motion) and arrives at the foul line off balance. In our case, “Dave” would ease up on the swing to re-establish some balance at the line. The true professional would maintain his swing leverage through the delivery and follow-through even if he had to stand on his head. The priority is “saving the shot,” not bowling form. Looking pretty doesn’t always pay off.

An important theorem to remember about compensation is that usually a negative action in a bowler’s shot can be nullified with another negative action, providing it is in opposition to the original negative action and equal in degree.

Let’s consider again the bowler who has drifted to the left. We mentioned that this could be corrected by exaggerating the swing direction more to the right. Yet, it must be mentioned that there is another option for compensation... namely, increasing the speed of the swing, which will increase the speed of the ball, thus reducing the ball’s hook span and most likely holding the ball’s path to the pocket.

This is compensation by means of changing a bowler’s basic plan of attack.

Finally, although compensation is extremely important and used by every skilled bowler, a strong attempt should be made to limit its use as much as possible. Compensation implies the need for correction. Therefore, the more you employ compensation, the more mistakes you are making. So, even though compensation will many times correct a mistake, the less need of compensation in your game will inevitably result in a higher strike percentage. In other words, too much compensation in your game suggests the need for a coach and a little practice.

Posted with permission from Luby Publishing Inc.