California Bowling Writers

December 18, 2009

In the Beginning...
By Mary Lynly

I love bowling. In 1960 when I got serious about bowling and my average started to rise, the quest to get above 169 is etched in my mind. It’s like the team who continually comes in second and then after a long battle – they win! Who knows what pulls the cork, something clicks and they are winners.

I finally managed to get my average above that 169. Perhaps it was the determination to bowl better at a center that had been my nemesis. Maybe it was my focus. Maybe the team or the league I was bowling on. Who knows, but to finally achieve my goal made a different bowler out of me.

I was a good spare bowler and I worked at being a good strike bowler. I loved it. When teams we bowled would say, “Oh, no – not you guys!” it was a feeling of power. I exuded confidence.

Averaging 170 plus for several years, I am now finding myself struggling as I drop below 160. It is many years later and a hundred life experiences, and the horror of all horrors – my average starts to free fall.

OK. So I am getting a little “long in the tooth” and I don’t bend the same. The ball is too heavy. That’s it. Get a new ball, one that doesn’t hook so much. While you’re at it, get rid of those old stiff shoes you’ve had for 15 years.

Ah – the ball feels good. It’s a pound lighter. The shoes are good ones but there is a rubber sole tip on the right foot. For years I slid my right foot forward slightly and moved right into my approach. The rubber tip is not allowing me to do this. I am told this is a push away foot. Not. I finally mastered taking a step and look a little like the ostrich in Fantasia.

I am frustrated and can think of nothing else but trying to solve my problem. OK – time for a lesson. Yes! That’s what I will do. The lesson changes my entire approach. The foot position is changed. The ball is moved way up - nearly under my chin. More power this way I am told. Push the ball toward the center of your body to avoid coming around your back. I am one who sticks with anything I decide to do and usually master things pretty well. But, in spite of my perseverance I never stopped looking like the ostrich. I continued to get worse. My timing, my balance and my confidence all took a hit.

I am not one to blame the lanes. Could it be my age? I don’t feel any different (except in the morning and at night.) I eventually mastered the step but came to the conclusion that maybe there is a degree of difficulty in teaching an old dog new tricks. Hey, I mastered the step.

I love the people on my team and in the league. Averages range from below 100 to over 200 in this league and all have their ups and downs. Somehow I guess I thought I was exempt. I kept coming back with renewed anticipation each week but missing spares like crazy and bowling low scores.

I had a shoemaker take the rubber tip off the right shoe and replace it with a soft leather one. I brought the ball back down where it was comfortable. I decided to continue to try to push the ball to the center of my body to keep from coming around my back. My foot position became comfortable. And you know what? I did learn something from the lesson - renewed determination. It had been missing.

In the end, I added focus. I am sure it will pay off. And, the fun of the game and the great people I bowl with transcend the average dilemma.