Loss of ball speed is one problem that senior bowlers may face. The problem may be due to an injury or just the aging process. Whatever the reason, let’s examine how important the loss of ball speed is and what you can do to remain competitive if your ball speed has dropped.
A good place to begin is realizing that your ball speed has decreased. Obviously, the most notice able sign is your own visual perception. All of a sudden you see your ball isn’t getting to the pins as quickly as before.
Another sign is the automatic scorer. Many of us fall victim to the gauge that measures your ball in miles per hour. Maybe in previous years you were throwing at 15 mph and all of a sudden the figure is reading 12 or 13 on a consistent basis.
Both scenarios may cause panic. But, is the panic necessary? Most of the bowling experts say no. As we get older, it should be expected. In a previous paragraph I mentioned the aging process and injury as two reasons for a decrease in speed. Let’s expand the list.
You could be using a ball that’s too heavy. Actually, this could be a result of the aging process. You’re just not strong enough anymore to handle a 15- or 16-pound ball. But, your ego prevents you from going to a lighter ball.
Here is something to remember. With today’s equipment, the power (both hitting and carrying) of a 14-pound ball might be the same or just a fraction below that of a 15- or 16-pound ball. Don’t be afraid to try a lighter ball. That might be the first step in remaining competitive as you get older.
However, there are some things to remember when going to a lighter weight ball. When the weight of the ball decreases, changes occur in the ball core. Since manufacturers can’t adjust the circumference of the ball (make it smaller), they must adjust the weight by changing what is inside the ball (core).
So, buyer beware! If you are going to purchase a ball based on the advertising of one of those tremendous flip blocks, or the performance of one of the PBA stars, you’re in for a rude awakening. Once that core is modified, it’s going to affect the reaction of your ball. Remember those performers on the PBA Tour are probably using the heaviest ball with the largest core.
Take note of what I mentioned in an earlier paragraph. The reaction of a lighter ball will be a fraction lower than the heavier ball. It’s going to be your choice. Do you want to sacrifice some hitting power to keep your speed or vice versa? Remember, that lighter ball might give you the best of both worlds.
Another reason for loss of ball speed might be the equipment you are using. It might not have the correct surface to match up to the lane conditions. I always recommend that before you consider any type of equipment change (drop in weight, drilling, etc.) you consult with your ball driller. He knows your game and what is best for you.
Once again, don’t fall victim to the power of advertisement. Purchase equipment that fits your game and is suitable for the conditions you compete on. Remember a properly drilled ball will help your game.
Let’s get back to the ball surface. If you’relosing speed, you might want to consider a shinier ball. This type of surface doesn’t grab the lanes as early as a dull surface ball. Your bowling knowledge should tell you that the earlier a ball grabs the lanes, the quicker it loses speed.
If your ball speed is down, there is going to be more deflection as the ball hits the pins. This may have an effect on your spare shooting. You need to compensate for the loss of speed and deflection by either maintaining or becoming a better spare shooter.
Many bowlers use a plastic ball when shooting spares. If this isn’t part of your routine, please consider it. Using plastic negates the lane conditions and lets the bowler roll straighter at spares. You might also consider using the third or fourth arrow as your target. This technique will allow your ball to skid longer in the oil, which decreases movement left or right.
If ball speed is truly affecting your game, you might want to consider getting some coaching. Chances are you may have to make some physical adjustments to your game. The slower speed may have affected such areas as armswing, timing, release, etc.
In closing, remember that for senior bowlers with lower ball speed, the differences between bowling balls are not huge. However, they do exist. Learn to take advantage of these slight differences or adjust your game to your current physical attributes.
GABE D’ANGELO is a member of the Mercer County Bowling Hall of Fame and Professional Bowlers Writers Association who writes this weekly column for The Herald. He can be reached at [email protected]