I know as a bowler it’s hard to bowl through the summer months. There are a ton of things to do in the summer months that you can’t do in the winter, like go to festivals, baseball games, fishing, golfing, etc. I too enjoy all of those activities, and even more than I have listed. As active of a guy as I am, I am here to tell you that you if you want to take you game to that next level, this is the time to really work on your game. I signed up for a PBA Experience League for the first time, and am so happy that I did. In my article I will discuss not only the benefits of playing in a PBA Experience League, but also tell you what worked, and what didn’t work for me on the lanes.
First of all the PBA Experience League I signed up for is run by AMF, which has many benefits to the program. The layout of the PBA Experience League is unique in that you bowl doubles against one other team. The league is 11 weeks long in which you bowl 5 PBA patterns twice through, and then a final sweeper night in which you bowl 5 games on 5 sets of lanes without knowing which pattern is laid out to see if you have learned from the experience. In addition to bowling 3 games during league, they allow you to bowl once you are finished until they close. This I almost find just as beneficial as bowling the 3 games in leagues as you are able to try different things to find out which lines and angles work best for you on the pattern. In addition to all of these great features of the league, they also give you a “AMF League Bowler Rewards Summer Program” discount card that allows you to bowl two games for free every day until August 31st (each additional game is $1.30). Also in summer kids get two free games of bowling regardless if anyone in the household is in a league.
I really enjoyed my first night of league, and want to help you get better as well, so each week I will discuss the pattern I bowl on and discuss what worked, and what flat out did not work. The first night of the PBA Experience league we bowled on the Tournament of Champions Pattern. Before bowling AMF supplies you with a pattern layout sheet and explains what the best ways to attack the lane are in a classroom type setting. One great thing I learned in the classroom was that no matter what the length of the pattern is you should minus that number by 31 to get your optimum breakpoint in this case that number was 8 because the pattern is 39’ feet in length. For the Tournament of Champions pattern, they explained that there were multiple angles of attack, and all really depended on your equipment, and style of bowling you can consistently repeat. I traditionally like to play around the track line, so I started there in practice and was striking at will. I experimented with my more aggressive and less aggressive equipment, but felt most comfortable with my benchmark ball. In the first game I bowled great in my mind for bowling on the PBA pattern for the first time shooting a 192. By the second game I noticed some small transitions were coming, and prepared myself for the worse. I spoke with Bill Monce (1 of 16 USBC Gold Coaches) who runs the league, to discuss what I was seeing, and asked for his opinion on how he predicted the lane would break down. Bill explained that it is essential to NOT make parallel moves like two and two, but to make 2 to 1 moves in order to keep a strong angle to the pocket. I took his advice as the lanes did what I thought they would do. I did also notice one lane was playing a little tighter than the other and adjusted for that as well. In game two I made two bad shots that cost me big time, one which was in the tenth frame. I ended up shooting a 174 my second game and really learned quickly that on this pattern you do not want to miss even a board or two outside of your target as the ball will never make it back to the head pin. The inside really was not forgiving either, but I did leave more makeable spares when I missed inside. The third game I started off great, but had some trouble in the 6th and 7th frames, with my ball over reacting. I remember what Bill said in the classroom setting before we started league, when he said “Don’t be afraid to make big and bold moves, and learn from your mistakes”. So I made a big and bold move since the traditional 2 and 1 didn’t work. I took more aggressive equipment, and played a far inside line. Although it took me two more frames to find the exact line, I was happy I made the switch. I shot a 171 my final game, and although I did not score great, I was overall happy with the night, knowing I trusted myself to make the tough decisions. Next week we will bowl on the same TOC pattern, so I am hoping to have learned from this experience and shoot at least 600.
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Hey, great advise about challenging yourself over the summer leagues. I will be doing the PBA experience for the second time this summer. It really brings to light your flaws and forces you to repeat shots if you want to bowl well. You just don’t have a 3-4 board area that you can hit down lane like you do on a THS. One of the other challenges is that you have to deal with other inexperienced bowlers that may or may not attack the pattern in a way that is conducive to good scoring. My league is similar in that we get 2 weeks on each pattern, but we have 3 man teams, but we also bowl 4 game blocks. I really struggled last year with it and only averaged 170 after finishing my winter house shot league with a 211! I think I have made some good progress in my game this year and I am hoping to average near 200 but will be more focused on repeating shots and converting spares and filling frames and not stress on the scores. That is the most important part of this – improved spare shooting and shot repeat-ability. Good luck with your league!
Great to hear you are working on taking your game to the next level. I wish you the best on your quest to hit 200 on a sport league. I also agree with you about making spares, they are necessary to scoring well on the PBA and sport patterns. One open makes a world of difference! Thanks for following.