Monday, May 17, 2010

Lots of Bowling This Weekend

Bowling is a funny thing, because when people ask me about it, I tell them that I'm "OK." I'm not great, but I am pretty competent. Of course if I say I average around 200, they tend to think I'm crazy to not think I'm really good! Probably part of my mentality there is that a lot of the people I am friends with are a lot better bowlers than I am (think averaging 220 and higher).
In recent years I've watched my average drop from around 200 to under 190. It doesn't seem huge, but it's a big hit on the confidence. A lot of it was mental, part of it was just having more on my plate (graduating and getting a real job has its effects!). But in the last year or so, I've been able to pull myself back up, and especially in the last few months, managed to get a book average of 200. Still short of my peak, but getting back to what I know I can do.
A few months ago, my confidence was at a peak. I had some new equipment, and I had been bowling some of my best scores in well over a year. Then came our trip to Nationals (click here to see the blog post on that). At Nationals, I bowled the worst I have in years. I honestly can't remember how long it has been since I did that bad.
Afterward, my bowling confidence was understandably shaken. I did realize that bowling at Nationals was a tougher situation than bowling at home, but I was still down.
Fortunately, I was able to pull myself out of the funk over the next few weeks. I took a trip to Modesto to bowl their Mini Peach, a 5-game scratch tournament. After 3 games, I was in 7th place, then tanked one game. I just couldn't find my shot, and I dropped to 23rd place. I came back the last game and bowled decently, to finish in 21st. Unfortunately only the top 17 moved on to the next round. I was disappointed, but proud that I had made it through the one bad game, and got myself back on pace the last game.

Now all of this finally brings me back to this weekend. I had considered bowling the San Joaquin Bowling Club's "Last Chance" tournament. It's the last tournament of the season leading up to the Tournament of Champions. I hadn't bowled any of the tournament before, so I couldn't move on to the ToC, but I wanted a chance to get more experience in tournament settings. I got talked out of it, then talked back into it. In the end, I decided to bowl.
The tournament was 6 games of qualifying, with the top 5 moving on to a stepladder final. I felt like I bowled OK. Not great, not terrible. In the end, I finished 9th, and the top 10 cashed. I was excited, especially since I hadn't thought I'd done that well. But apparently it was enough. And beyond cashing in the tournament, I learned a few things about my shot, and how to adjust in a tournament.
After the tournament, there was talk of traveling up to Modesto to bowl a scratch 6 game tournament, which would be on the Professional Bowlers Association's Viper pattern ( I knew it would be challenging, but eventually decided to go with them and try it out. In my head, I had hoped to cash and make a good showing, but in the end all I got was experience. But that's not a bad thing! I learned a few things about my shot, specifically a few things I do when I get off my game, and ways to relax myself and just get back to doing what I do, rather than forcing things.
I do think I probably wasn't helped by bowling 12 games in two days, when I've generally been a "3-game-per-week" kind of guy. I was definitely exhausted, and I'm still feeling the effects, now I know where I am physically, and I know what I need to do if I want to bowl at this level again.
Although I know I am not quite at the same level of some of the guys I went with, I do know that on any given day I can compete with them. I might be deceiving myself, but I do believe it, and maybe I just need to keep telling myself this to force myself to keep trying.
So what's in store next? First, a little time off from bowling. Then in June, we start up a new league, quickly followed by State Tournament in Bakersfield, then back to Modesto for The Peach at some point, and hopefully a few more events scattered in the middle.
I'm just glad I've got a wife who supports me, not just by saying "You can do it!" and meaning it, but also just being there to help pass the time on the travels. I know that watching bowling is not the most exciting thing in the world, but I know she'll always be there to watch and cheer me on, so at least I've got that consistent thing going.

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