Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Breaking Into New Territory...But Not On Two Wheels

I normally wouldn't rant about rave about my bowling but......

My first game of league night last Saturday night I wasn't happy with a 170 something I threw but I was content that I was closer to where I wanted to be. I should be able to throw 180-190 every game. I had 2 bad weeks before this and I was working on digging myself out of a rut. Only issue today was that I was hitting the pocket well but the pins weren't falling for the strike. I felt like my first game I should have had 2-3 more strikes than I ended up with. No issue tho, that's how the game goes some days. At least I was throwing a consistent ball to the pocket. I did miss two spares that cost me a 190 game though. I get more upset with myself for missing spares than I do with not getting a strike on the first ball. But as a team we did enough that game to pull off a win against one of the better teams in the league.....by 16 pins.

Before game two I went to talk with Sean, my officially unofficial bowling coach. He is on the league and loves to help people bowl better and does it well because he only gives out advise if and when you ask for it. He said, "Slow the ball down. Lower back swing and you'll control the release. Plus you know your ball gets better pin action at a slower speed. So game two I made the adjustment and slowed the ball down a bit with a lower back swing. I also toweled the ball more often. Some times I forget how important that is. So I was able to rack up a few more strikes and managed a solid 218. Picked up all my spares and we won that game by 11 pins. Sue, Danielle and Todd were throwing their averages both games but we barely escaped a loss both games. I knew in order to take the series I needed to throw another good game. It was then I realized that another 600 series was possible if I just threw a 210.

So going into the third game I was focused on my 600 series. I wanted to start off with 2-3 strikes to get the team rolling. The first three strikes felt perfect coming off the hand. 4 was a little different but barely. 5 was spot on like 1-3. So I had tied my record for most consecutive strikes and was on my way to the 210 I wanted. 6th frame the ball slipped out off my thumb and I threw it flat, end over end, no side rotation but since I felt it slip I adjusted the release and sent it straight to the pocket from the right side with no hook. I figured I'd leave a pin or two and was very surprised when they all fell. I turned around and said out loud, that was pure luck right there. Number 7 was a picture perfect strike. Could possibly be the best ball I have thrown in decades, seriously. But it didn't really sink in until the 8th frame.

While going up for the 8th frame the sweeper, Jon, for the other team stopped me. He could tell I was starting to get nervous. He said, "Listen, this is bowling. It gets scored one frame at a time. Don't think about any thing else but this frame. Relax and take it one frame at a time." I knew Jon and we had talked quite a few times in the past. He's an avid bowling with a more than a few 300 games under his belt. So I relaxed a bit and remembered what he'd said.

After I threw the strike in the 8th it started to become a reality that I might be able to pull off a 300. After the 9th I wasn't sure what to do with myself while waiting for the 10th frame to come. No one was talking to me but I wished some on would of but at the same time I was to wrecked up to start a conversation with anyone. 10th frame comes and I am the lead off bowler for our team. In a regular league I'd be third or fourth man but this is for fun so it didn't really matter. Well the girl on the other team didn't even get out of her seat. I walked by her and she gave that look like, "the lanes are all yours." Very classy move. Jon gave me 'the nod' like he knew I could do it. So I grabbed my towel, and cleaned my ball. By now I had developed a pre approach routine, even where I was putting my towel down after wiping the ball off. Took my stance, then a deep breath and then my approach. I knew if I was going to mess up any of them it would be this one. It left my hand and I knew it was good. Went back to the ball rack without making eye contact with anyone. My nerves were really starting to get to me. Grabbed my towel before my ball came so no one would see my hands shaking.

Ball came and now I am set up for number 11. 'Two more' I told myself. As I stood there for my approach I noticed the music was louder. That's when I realized more people had stopped bowling and had come to watch me bowl. That didn't make number 11 any easier. However, I kept the little cool I had left and managed another smooth release. It was tracking good but I made sure to watch it all the way through. They all fell and I closed my eyes in amazement. I really couldn't believe the situation I was in. Just 6 months ago I threw my first ever 600 series and this season I had only thrown a handful of games over 200. I had no business being this close to a 300. For crying out loud my previous high game was a 248 I did that over 10 years ago at open bowl with some friends.

But none the less I was here and had a chance at perfection. Now the whole damn place was quiet. Music was still on but he had turned it down. When I went back for my ball I didn't look up as I really didn't want to see how many people were watching although I had a good idea of how many. While cleaning my ball I thought about volleyball. I had played for so many years and been in so many good matches but it was nothing like this. I thought about cycling. So many races I had did well at but I trained my ass off for them so I expected good results. This tho, this was all new to me. As I held my ball for my approach I could now see it moving from my hand shaking. 'Uno Mas' I thought to myself. Took my approach and it all felt good until the release. The pressure had gotten to me and I threw it a little to much to the left but it did not have as much lift on it so it wasn't going to hook past the pocket. I knew it was going to hit a little high and heavy on the head pin but the crowd behind me already started blowing up because it looked like it was very possible I'd get the strike. Problem was me and maybe one other person there knew I had thrown it a little to fast and I would not get that side to side pin action that had been working so well. As it hit the pins, they scattered and I could see some of them went up to high and when they all went still the 4 and 7 were standing.

298. . . . so close.

As I walked back I got a lot of hand shakes, high fives and congratulations on an awesome game. I knew it was incredible but to be so close I couldn't help but be a little disappointed. I'm human. So we had won the third game, the series and retained first place in the league for yet another week. Todd immediately said, "Let's go get a drink and celebrate." It took a few minutes for the disappointment to go away and once I had the drink down my nerves also went down and my hands finally stopped shaking.

In the end I learned a few things and also saved some money. I told Sue if I would have hit a 300 I would have had to retire my ball and put it up on a stand above the fire place in the Living room. I got that look and she said, "Well, I would have let you keep it up there for a couple weeks." and then gave me a big hug and kiss.

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