The art of goal setting.
By Alan Brizee September 15,1999
Setting goals is an game within the game. Setting them should inspire you to work, but possible to reach.
I attained my long-term goal that I set for the summer trio league at Lucky Strike. A goal of 300 would be unrealistic for me. Unless you have several 300's, a 300 is more of a dream than a goal. No, my goal was somewhat high, but I have shot before on several occasions. One of my short-term goals was to win at least one bracket every three weeks, which is really a little low for a goal. Winning a bracket every 3 weeks, which I did, meant that I would make money in the brackets for the summer. It was the 12th week of the 13 week long league that I reached out and grabbed my goal.
Goals are about planning the work and working the plan.
My goal was to shoot a 1000 set for 4 games. With the shot at Lucky Strike a little nicer and more consistent than most centers, averaging 250 for the night would be tough, but not out of reach. I had 2 sets of 950 or better before this night, and after resurfacing the lanes with two weeks remaining, it was looking dim on my goal. My second 950 was when the lanes broke down a little in the 2nd game, threw the last 6 for 238 after a 249 start. I couldn't string more than 4 after that and finished with a couple of 230's for 958. That 12th week, it took most of practice to get lined in. Have you ever noticed that getting lined in early in practice, the shot later in the evening will become a mystery and when you get lined in late, that things sometimes fall into place? After starting with the opening four strikes, I left a 10 pin which I missed for my only open. I then threw the next 5 to open the night with 256. Closing the 2nd game with 8 and 268 put me 124 over. A couple of 238's is what I needed. Starting with 3 for the 3rdgame and throwing two more 3 baggers, gave me a 247 and 771 with a game to go. I opened the final game with 4 and would still need a double, provided I stayed clean for the game. It came down to the 10th frame as I struck in the 9th and needed the first strike for my goal. I carried the strike and then left an 8-10 split in the 11th. It was the only 1000 shot in the league. The biggest help were that the lanes changed only a half board in the 2nd game. I had to move right due to oil being carried down a little. It helps to be a stroker, instead of a cranker at lot of times. I used my Quake that Andy Clark drilled and he drilled it to go long before reacting. I will discuss conditions later.
Set the goals that are almost out of reach. It will make you work a little harder to reach it.
I averaged 220 for the summer, which was not a goal when the league started, but then became one with 4 weeks left in the league when I was at 219. After my high for the summer, I shot my low set of the summer, but after a 1000, not a lot of things went right on the final night. You take the good with the bad. I did miss one of my goals, to stay clean for all 4 games. I had 2 weeks with 1 open and 3 other weeks with 3 opens or less. It's a summer that I'll remember for awhile.
Anyone that bowls scratch must set goals. Goals could be something you work on during practice like perfecting your release, a pre-shot routine or becoming better on corner pin spares. Goals you set for league could be shooting 7 700's, averaging 1.3 opens per game, throwing 3 279's or better, averaging 210 or winning 50% of your matches. Setting goals too high will only disappoint you when you come up short unless you're short several times (Then set your goal a little lower). Goals could also be mentally oriented, like having positive self-talk, a one-shot-at-a-time mentality, being relaxed on each shot or forget the past routine. Hopefully your goals come to life.
Goals are just stepping stones to achieve success. They keep you focused to do your best.
Adjust for better scores By Alan Brizee © Apr. 14, 2000, rev. Jun. 2014 & Mar. 2020
NOTE: This article is for right handed bowlers while left handers will have to reverse adjustments. Even the two handers will have to move maybe twice as much as stated due to the extra revolutions you put on your ball. All these adjustments are not set in stone and each bowler will have to understand that your style will determine how much you need to adjust. That is why practice is valuable for everyone that wants to be a “good bowler”J. This article was intended to help anyone that wanted to improve their bowling by showing that adjusting will be required these days and understanding what adjustments they may need to practice on. The hard part is knowing what may work when you may feel like you’re lost. One adjustment today may be different next week. With oil, humidity and where others are playing, is why you need to know what kind of adjustments fit your game the best. A big reminder is that the dots and arrows are on the lane for a reason. You should get comfortable targeting at both dots and arrows if bowling even at just one center. You may need to target differently when you bowl the city and state tournament. Looks like it’s time to practiceJ. I can’t believe this article is almost 20 years old. I have added a little for better understanding and hopes it helps you.
Well I have good news for you that need more info after reading through this article. Adjust is a MUST! goes into actual adjusting to carry the 10 pin for strikes. Of course you’ll probably leave at least one 10 pin, so I included some tips on being more consistent to converting them. At 65 years young, I average 6.5 strikes per game to go with just 1.0 opens per game for a 215 average in two leagues at different centers. I am considered a stroker as I don’t cross a lot of boards. My averages this season are the highest in the last five seasons. It was partly due to writing my book, The Path to Excellence, 31 Days to the Zone. Since I retired, I decided that some of the articles I wrote when I was league secretary, would be a huge help for my teammates and others who really wanted to improve their game. Writing got me to rethink about my own game and help me focus better. One advantage I have over most other bowlers is accuracy and a solid mental game. With some of my minor injuries, I thought it would a good thing to share some of my experience to help others achieve some of their goals. After finishing my book that will show how to get to the zone, I wrote a mini-book, From Excellence to Success, to show how the zone equates to success and being able to maintain success.
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Are you going to make the best choice? You may not get a second chance at victory. Experience from actual competition and practicing will determine if you made the intelligent estimation. Just because your adjustment worked last time at one center, don’t assume it will be the answer whatever lanes you’re on. You should know what happens when you assume anything. There are a lot of variables and they can change as fast as the very next frame. You’ll never predict what may happen after your last frame. There are others playing slightly different areas on the lanes and the oil is changing and picked up by reactive equipment. It will sometimes come down how well did you roll it? A slight lapse of focus isn’t to put blame on the conditions. But now another decision, since you know it was you and came in high, is it adjust on a bad shot? Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. It comes down to making an intelligent estimation based on how hard you ball snapped when it got through the oil. You’ll have to make the call on what you do. Confer with your teammates or others watching as what the lanes are doing. They may help you make the right decision.
Adjusting is an art. It has been said, "Good bowlers adjust". Adjusting for bowling is about 20% of the mental game. This 20% can add huge numbers to your score. It is a difficult thing to master and one of the most important factors for top amateurs and pro bowlers. There has not been many articles on adjusting, which is one reason I'm writing this one. There are bowlers that need some help in adjusting on the scratch level and I hope this article will help you improve your game. Bowlers in the Traveling Masters bowling on different conditions each week, should have an idea what adjustments are and how to make them work for them. Why do bowlers have to adjust? You MUST have the knowledge to adjust to be able to average 200. The more knowledge you have, the faster you can make adjustments and as a result, shoot consistently higher scores. Bowling in a traveling league or in tournaments, this knowledge could bring you record scores. Tournaments where you will cross lanes, makes knowing adjustments, an asset. With crossing pairs, you might be adjusting after a shot on each lane. Knowing your own game and the knowledge needed to adjust could result in making the next cut or in getting a check. Due to today's equipment which can act like a sponge and absorb oil, 3 adjustments during a 3 game session is not that uncommon. Adjusting will be required for throwing strings of strikes while bowling in leagues or tournaments. It will also be needed on converting spares, splits and washouts. The knowledge to adjust is the biggest key for consistent scoring and obviously more important on your strike shot. But there is no excuse for missing a spare a 2nd time because you did not adjust. Knowing how and when to adjust could easily add 10 or more pins to your game. You also must determine when an adjustment is needed. Missing the pocket on a couple of shots, may indicate an adjustment is needed. Only you can determine what adjustments work best for you. If after making adjustments and nothing is going well for you, remember not to quit. Once you give up, you won't learn. I've learned a few things very late in a match that has helped me later in my career because I didn't quit. I hope these tips will help you understand the different types and if or when adjustments might need to be made. Even if only a few of these tips work for you, they will get you thinking about what you need to learn or what you may have to work on to master making adjustments. Use them as suggestions. Slight modifications may be needed for you.
Knowing the 5 factors that will help you when adjustments are needed are the key for all bowlers. There are times that these factors could be the problem and you need to concern yourself about correcting them before more adjustments can be made. These factors are concentration, confidence, execution, attitude and timing. These factors determine the type of adjustments you will make. What type and the amount you will adjust, will depend on your individual style of bowling. The five basic types of adjustments are feet, target, equipment, hand position and speed. The last two are usually only used after a lot of practice. JUST BECAUSE OTHERS ARE MAKING ADJUSTMENTS, DOESN'T MEAN THAT YOU HAVE TO. You might be the last bowler on the pair to make an adjustment. Your teammates might tell you the lanes are breaking down, you should use this information as an indication that the lanes might change for you. As you know, some high hits carry as well as light hits. Talking with teammates about what the lanes are doing will help in making adjustments. I have used this information to make adjustments before I really got into trouble. You must know that making adjustments also come down to following: 1. the type of the ball you are using; 2. the break point of the ball; 3. How the ball is drilled; 4. what area of the lane you are using; 5. the angle to the pocket your ball takes; 6. the lane conditions; 7. how well you are throwing the ball; 8. and of course your mental game. Not all adjustments you make will work. It might require making a second adjustment because the first adjustment was not enough, too much, your physical game is off like timing or need to think through the situation better. The more boards you cross (where your ball lands on the heads to where your ball turns over and starts hooking), the bigger adjustments and the quicker you'll be making them. Knowing the characteristics of the lanes will help in adjusting. You also have to realize that one lane could break down while the other lane has oil carried down. You have to attack each lane differently even if they were just oiled. Another thing effecting conditions is where others on your pair are playing. If they're all playing around the ten board where you are, adjustments might need to be made quicker. Also the number of lines come into play. A second shift could see the track area drier and maybe a little wider, or could even start breaking down in the first game. Now In most cases even bowling just three games, equipment changes are needed. Adjustments on tougher conditions may require keeping the ball in play (hitting around the pocket to leave easier spares when you don’t strike) and try to keep not leave splits.
"Adjusting is about executing and maintaining positive." Executing shots requires concentration. Concentration is essential in hitting your mark consistently. Concentrating on your mark until the ball is out of your hand, is one key to becoming a good bowler. This helps in knowing you hit your target and will help focus on your ball reaction. Throwing strikes over and over require a good ball reaction. You must know how your ball reacts and when the reaction starts changing so you will make the proper adjustment. Concentration and watching your ball’s reaction must be done for making solid adjustments. If your ball hooked a little sooner with a hit high or that your ball delayed the hook due to oil carry down will help in decided what you must do on the next shot. Keeping your attitude in a positive state will keep you more relaxed, focused and ready for most situations. A relaxed shot is not being forced. The perfect shot is a free pendulum swing that will use all five factors to determine if any adjustment is necessary. Mentally being in control will help you make the right decisions in critical situations and even adjust while on a string of strikes to continue to strike.
The type of adjustment and the amount you adjust depends on your individual style of bowling. Throwing that big hook might look nice and carry a few more strikes, but you will be making bigger adjustments and making them more often. The big hook is also known for leaving a few more splits. You must know your game and watch other bowlers on your pair to be able to tell that an adjustment is due or coming. There have been many times that I felt the lanes broke down just to find out that it was me who threw a bad shot. You will have to determine on those times when you don't know if it was you or the lanes that made the ball come in high in the pocket. Staying where you are and throwing a good shot could result in another high shot if the lanes broke down. If you came in light and adjust, you can’t hit the track area too soon or you could leave a split because it hooked too much. So as far as adjustments, the bigger adjustments should be only high hits. The reason is it would be better to be a little light in the pocket instead of leaving a wide open split because you didn’t move enough. With carry down, which could last six frames or more, and moving to the right too much can cause the ball to hit too high and maybe leave a split if you let up just a little bit. You really should never move more than a board right with either your feet or target on light hits to avoid disaster. Still hitting light can be targeting closer to the foul line by about foot, so that your ball will get in an earlier roll and hook slightly sooner to hit the pocket solid to strike.
Making an adjustment could mean coming in light or even missing the head pin if it was you and not the lanes. I have made adjustments after a slightly high hit for a 6 bagger to throw another 6 strikes after a board adjustment with my feet to shoot a 'Varapapa 300' game. If you are a straight shooter like I am, you might be the last bowler on that pair to make any adjustments. Even today, you might not need to make more than one adjustment the whole night. If I move only 1/2 board with my feet for a night and carrying, I’ll usually shoot above 700. The power players or crankers will make the most dramatic or biggest adjustments due to covering more boards. If the lanes are breaking down, moving 5-10 boards a night is not out of the norm for them. Throwing down the boards means making fewer adjustments and usually mean consistent scores. Adjusting with your feet, target or feet and target are usually the first adjustment most bowlers make. Bowlers will usually move using both feet and target. This doesn't mean you'll have to. I have made adjustments with just my feet due to single pins and with just my target usually due to the 10 pin. (Remember that these adjustments are on house conditions. During a tournament, I will probably move both feet and target.) Knowing how to play at least two to three different lines to the pocket will make you more comfortable when dramatic lane adjustments become necessary. You could be throwing in the right area, but because you're not playing the right angle needed to hit the pocket, you're not carrying strikes. This is one reason why a bowler playing around the 2nd arrow shoots 740 while others also shooting the 2nd arrow shoot around 600 for the night. It has been noted that centers might have differences in the number of dots on the approach and the distance from the dots to the foul line is different at some centers. Also remember that the new equipment have weight bocks which determine the breaking point and that a certain ball could be another reason why one bowler is burning up the maples playing a particular line. You'll need to find the line that will give you the best results.
Watching other bowlers with similar styles is helpful and helped me cash in the 2009 Southern Nevada Masters tournament which had the Earl Anthony pattern. I was playing around 10 board and two bowlers on the pair I was about to bowl on shot 250 and 260. I moved in a little and shot 259 to get a check for an entry I won during a summer league at South Point Casino. This shows that watching others could put cash in your pocketJ.
Adjusting is really fine-tuning your shot to the pocket. How you adjust with your feet and target will come down to your own game and equipment. I might move 1 and 1. This means one board with feet and a board with your target. Many years ago, a 2 and 1 was common for most bowlers, 2 boards with feet and a board with your target. Yoho suggests a 3 and 1, 3 boards left and 1 board left with target. It will be determined by ball reaction, the number of bowlers on the pair, where area on the lane they are playing, the speed of your ball and the type of bowler you are.
“Timing, control, confidence and concentration makes a good bowler." I know that a few bowlers may move up or back on the approach. This could mess up your timing. What I will do if I'm close but not carrying strikes, move your target on the lanes up or back. If looking at the arrows and want the ball to break a little sooner, look a little closer like halfway between the arrows and the dots. If you want the ball later, looking two feet past the arrows could be what you want. I have even pin bowled at times is the lanes were on the very dry side. Pin bowl means looking at a pin 60 feet from the foul line as your target. I also will look at the reflection on the lane if needed. On all spare shots, I pin bowl. This helps me follow-through, which keeps the speed up and keeps the ball from breaking as much. Knowing the center you are bowling at is a big help in knowing how much adjustment might be needed. There have been times that it took over six frames to get lined in again. I have made adjustments just to find that a 1 and 1 was enough. I have also made a 1 and 1 to find out that a 3 and 1 was needed. Adjustments at times are an educated guess.
Today’s equipment can be a wonderful thing. It can boost your confidence when it's working. It also can make a two board area seem like four boards at times. It can turn a bad shot into a strike and help you relax and concentrate because of your confidence in it. Keep a positive attitude when you must change from your favorite to your secondary ball. A change in equipment may be needed to continue throwing strikes, if the lanes have broken down faster than the adjustments you’re making. If the breaking point of the ball is not the reaction you need, then a ball change is needed. On house conditions, since I play up the boards, I find the left side of the track area (right side of oil line) with a ball with good reaction in the back ends. I also don’t want a ball that snaps too much, as it could create an over under reaction. The reason for this is that once I'm lined in, my adjustments will be minor ones. I may not shoot a lot of 750's or better, but I won't shoot many sets under 600. The more consistent you are today, the better bowler you'll be due to it. It helps with scores of 230, 210 the second game when oil is moved around and a 220 or 230 the final game of league. How many of you would take this night two of every three sessions? One out of about five nights would include a game above 250. It would be rare that I have high average in the league, but I’m in at least the top five for most of the season. I may have only one game below 185 for the month for both leagues because of my knowledge to make the right adjustments. All you have to do is ask any of my teammates from my entire career, how important it is to know how dependable I am when the game is close in the 8th frame. I was practicing after a lesson I had in Phoenix on lanes that were just oiled. Tom, the mechanic saw me and told me to put my ball down. He took me down the walkway next to the lane I had just bowled two games. We looked at the area halfway between the dots and arrows, where the ball tracking in the oil before hooking back to the pocket. Would you believe that just three boards shown signs of oil movement? For someone in their 60’s, that’s being fairly accurate. 20 years ago, it might have been just two boards. What I’m telling you is, with today’s equipment, you don’t need a big hook or a lot of revs to carry more strikes if you’re satisfied with strictly bowling leagues. Consistency and adjustments, even today, can be the difference in winning matches. Consistency comes from repetition and focus while adjustments comes from repeating good shots, experience and knowledge.
Here’s food for thought. How many of you take more than three balls to the center just to bowl on a house condition? I’ve seen some bowlers bring a four ball bag and a three ball roller. I realize some use a spare ball, so that would give them six balls to throw for carrying strikes. Choices, choices and more choices. Some of these bowlers, I out average by ten pins per game. With so many choices and their carry isn’t there that week, most seem to think that a ball change is the best adjustment. Well isn’t it? It can be at times. Even the house shot will change slightly, but does anyone need five more options should their first choice appear to not be working? Too many options can lead to over thinking the situation and can create bad decisions when trying to find the right reaction for that night. There has been a few nights where I changed balls just to find out that the ball I started with was in fact the right decision all along. My timing was off a little and later after being more relaxed, loosened up and rolling the ball better, I was able to string strikes together. How many weeks of shooting below your average will it take you to realize, that having more equipment and being able to make quality decisions when adjusting, because you have more choices? Another thought, of course you want to throw more strikes, but who doesn’t? In your quest to throw more strikes and finding that ball that hooks in your backswingJ, it’s a great plan when it works. But does it really work each game? OK, the 2nd game is close and you haven’t made any adjustments or maybe you made just one. You’re probably thinking you got this. But in the meanwhile, the lanes are transitioning and breaking down slightly. Very few bowlers make adjustments before they’re needed. You just threw the ball and it wasn’t a great shot. Your speed was a little slower and guess what, a wide open split for an open frame. My team wins the game taking advantage of the open because filling frames with spares are sometimes enough to win. The big powerful hook looks impressive until the lanes break down and splits happen. It takes three strikes in a row to make up for just one open if you average around 200. Consistency is still better for the league level. Even Norm Duke winning back to back to claim titles number 39 and 40 against two handers shows why he is one of the top ten bowlers of all time.
I now take just three balls with me into any center and don’t have a spare ball. Only after I feel that one of two balls won't work will I go to my bag and try a third. I used to take in four without a spare ball with me and many times, only used one all night shooting good scores. During tournaments, then taking more than three of four makes sense. The less you'll have to worry about during league, the better off you'll be. The new reactive equipment make throwing strikes easier, but it can also overreact more when the lanes start changing. You should have a ball that goes straight without a lot of snap for those drier conditions. Having a urethane ball could be an adjustment from reactive equipment. Also plastic ball on spares can help, but the way some shoot at spares, it doesn’t help them as much as it should. Remember that changing equipment on spares can be risky at times due to your feel in each ball. You could hang up in the ball or lose the ball because your spare ball had a different feeling. Before changing equipment, you should try at least another angle to the pocket. Another thought is if two balls can hit the pocket and carry strikes, and you’re up against a rev dominate team, using the one with less snap in the backend might be the one to use as you won't be making as many adjustments. The less adjustments I make usually equates to higher scores.
The more difficult adjustments are hand position and speed. Top bowlers usually use these after years of practice. Hand position to adjust will become important, if you want to get to the next level you're trying to reach. Changing hand positions will not come overnight. It will take some time to master. Speed is the most difficult adjustment to make because timing or rhythm comes into it. With all the technology in the balls coming out every month, changing balls makes more sense than changing your speed. Speed adjustments could also be going from a 4 to 5 step approach or a 5 to 4 step. You should only change your approach if you are comfortable with both approaches. You should first master moving with your feet and target. Even with an equipment change, you'll need to move your feet and target to get lined in. You’ll also need to know the differences in reaction when changing balls to feel confident that your first shot with a different ball should hit the pocket. Being able to change balls and throwing a six bagger comes from experience and confidence.
I have covered adjusting in some detail but it is you who will be making them. I can only tell you what has worked for me and a few others. Knowing adjustments have to be made is just the beginning. You must know your equipment, be able to play different areas on the lane and have a sound mental game to compete at top amateur levels. This knowledge will help the lower average bowler in raising their average and should make bowling more fun. Knowing what ball will react sooner, while another may break a later will help in deciding what ball you start with. On a house condition, you should start with the same ball every week and then make your adjustments. Don't let others influence you unless they are truly trying to help your game. Just because someone says the lanes are drier this week, you MUST find out for yourself. Having a good mentally sound bowling game is why the good bowlers are always leading the league in average. They have the knowledge and the right equipment to keep on top. If all else fails, remember that this game is supposed to be fun. Before I get too frustrated, you'll see me run shots out that may not be that close. It is because I'm having fun in the present and forgetting some of my past bad shots. Sometimes I was trying a little too hard and pressing myself and just running the shot lets out my frustration and loosens me up. We are human and will make mistakes. It is what YOU DO AFTER YOU MADE A MISTAKE, which determines what you are made of. Put any mistake behind you and focus on what needs to happen on your next shot. That’s all you can control. It’s about one shot your roll, about 30 times for the night.
Adjusting now is about the transition and break point. It is with these adjustments that can help when the lanes really change from game to game. I was reading where some were saying that reactive equipment depletes oil and plastic carries it down the lanes. For the most part, that is true. It may not be that situation every time you bowl. You will be able to experience for yourself what is happening on the lanes while competing, and then adjust to what the lanes are doing. If there is some carry down maybe late the first game or during the second game, you’ll probably experience break down before the night is over. Even after a few years of experience and being fairly accurate, you’ll gain confidence in your adjusting ability and start seeing better and more consistent scores each week.
That is why a log book of what ball you threw and the adjustments you made are needed. It will help you in future weeks and for tournaments. Practicing at the 10 pin should happen for some of you as well. I have had to shoot spares differently lately after my lesson because I’m staying under the ball better and it hooks a little sooner. So don’t think adjusting is just to throw more strikes. It’s also to convert more spares which actually creates higher scores.
"I made the right adjustment." "I shot 700 tonight because of my adjusting." Go ahead and be a one-bowler cheering squad. Making the right adjustments should make you proud. It is for your dreams, your desire to improve, for the love of the game and to prove something for yourself that you'll want to be able to make better and quicker adjustments in the future. I hope that you become a better bowler after reading this article. Good luck.
For those that do not know me, I have averaged 208 each season after getting out of the Army in '92. I was averaging 220 in 2014 due to being a straight shooter and a very good shot that has been consistent through-out the season. To average above 220, you must know your game well, be very knowledgeable about adjusting, having confidence and not making a lot of major mistakes. It is also due to confidence with my equipment and having fun. Throwing up the boards has been extremely helpful due to an accident before I started bowling. Being a straight shooter, adjustments at times have been a half board with my feet or with a slight change in my target. It is also due to knowing what adjustments work for me after over 30 years of bowling. Knowing when the lanes might break down or whether the oil is being carried down, due to excessive oil in the middle of the lane has been helpful. Also never quitting and not being afraid to make an adjustment you're not comfortable with will show what you are made of. I know that I didn't go into much detail on any subject. Chapters and books have been written about them, I just wanted you to be aware of the possibilities. Also you could do what I did years ago, and that is to keep a log for the centers you bowl in. A log will provide a starting point for the next time you're there. It can also indicate when lanes start to change. It will be a big help when changing equipment. Good luck with your bowling and all I can hope for, is that one of these tips has helped improve your game.
If you have any comments, questions or need more information like what’s in my mental game library on where you get more information on adjusting, Contact Alan..
Pg. 15: 7/3/20
NEXT: Acept challenges.