It should be the simplest thing in bowling, picking up a single-pin spare.
But when it's the 10-pin, lots of us just shudder at the thought.
That's for righthanders. If anything, the 7-pin can cause even more problems for lefties.
For the sake of this discussion, we'll stick with 10-pins for righties, since everything for a lefty is a mirror image on the 7-pin.
If you don't bowl much and see how easily the pros make 10-pins - though even they miss them once in awhile - you might wonder what all the fuss is about.
The pros practice, practice, practice. Then practice some more. And even more. That's why they're pros.
For us once- or twice-a-week bowlers who don't do much more than show up to bowl three games a night, the 10-pin is a bugger. Well, that's about the nicest thing I've heard it called.
For all the big-hooking balls everyone has bought in the past two decades, the 10-pin is "hiding" on the right edge of the lane away from where the ball hooks.
I would say that for 90 to 95 percent of us, throwing a strike ball at the 10-pin is NOT an option - not if you want to have a fighting chance at picking it up with any kind of regularity.
Throw your hook ball to the right edge of the lane and one of two things will happen - either it falls in the gutter, or it hangs on the edge for a few feet, maybe even a few dozen feet, then hooks off left by the time it gets to the 10-pin.
About 25 years ago when I was carrying an average in the 180s, I was so bad at shooting 10-pins that I tried a radical experiment - I took one summer, when the averages don't really count, and threw a straight ball at every spare I left, even if I fouled or guttered on my first ball.
Because I threw a straight ball as a kid, it worked well. In fact, it worked for pins in both corners, but the main thing was to find a way to pick up a 10-pin, and I did. By the way, I now throw a straight ball at just about every spare.
The straight-ball shot doesn't work for everybody, however. So Country Lanes general manager Clay Sandberg and I talked one night a few weeks ago about some other ways to more effectively pick up 10-pins. And here's some ideas you might try if you're having problems:
- Make sure you're throwing across the lane, and the farther the left you can comfortably release the ball at the foul line, the better. Walking straight up for the approach instead of at the 10-pin makes this easier, while a tip Clay mentioned is having your belt buckle face the 10-pin at the start, even if you're walking straight up the approach.
- Speed. The harder you throw the ball, the less - and later - it hooks.
- Switch balls. A plastic, rubber or even less aggressive reactive resin ball can do wonders.
- Break your wrist. No, not literally, but let your wrist flop backward or at least get out of the cupped position a lot of big-hook bowlers prefer for their strike ball.
- Take your ring finger out of the ball. That may be radical for some, but if you're so strong that you can't kill your hook, then you might be strong enough to throw with just one finger in the ball.
- Use an extreme release. Either stay completely behind the ball all the way through the release so it has little or no side rotation, or totally spin it like a toy top so the rotation isn't able to "catch" by the time by ball gets to the 10-pin.
- One I had never thought of that Clay said was to pin bowl instead of spot bowl. Just for shooting the 10-pin, you would move your eyes from the dots or arrows a few feet past the foul line all the way down to the 10-pin itself. He said that automatically makes you project the ball out on the lane more.
- Staying down at the foul line. Rearing up tends to pull the ball left across your body.
- And finally, don't be afraid to ask teammates or other bowlers who are good at shooting this pin what their secrets are.
Now for the Mining Journal Bowlers of the Week, two slower weeks actually.
Randy Mattson shot 150 pins over his 159 average with a 627 series in the Monday Northern Electric Automotive Industrial League at Country Lanes on Dec. 19. He was incredibly consistent with games of 212, 202 and 213.
Next was Jim Goloversic in the same league on the same night. Just getting back into bowling this season after 20 years away, the 141-average bowler shot 560 with 178, 200 and 182 games to go 137 over.
On the women's side, Amanda Deloria was 113 over her 102 average with 419 in the Tuesday Night Mixed League at Superior Lanes. She had a high game of 151. Next came Hope Virch in the Friday 800 Mixed at Superior, as she was 71 over her 171 average with 584 and a 234 high game.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.