Using statistics to improve your bowling By Alan Brizee © June 15th '97 (Rev. Oct. 16th, '19.)
Stats are imprtant- What are they? What do they mean? How to use them to improve your game?
MOST bowling leagues use just 4 statistics; total pins, number of games bowled, average (usually a whole number) and handicap. If I printed out standing sheets with just this information, would it help your overall game? The only useful stat is your average, which will not tell you if you're close to raising your average.
How can statistics improve your bowling? Stats can be used to set short-term goals as well as long term goals. Statistics can be just a bunch of numbers to most bowlers, but knowing how they effect other stats can be the key to open your awareness to areas of your game that need improvement. One of the reasons other sports use a variety of statistics is to show team and player strengths, weaknesses and tendencies. This can also be said if league secretaries would post more statistics that each bowler could use and learn from.
Some of the statistics I use in the Traveling Masters are Average (with tenths), 4 week average, average at each center, opens per game, strikes per game, clean games and 5 baggers. The purpose of these stats are: Average (with tenths) to show bowlers how close to raising their average so they can get psyched up when they are at 209.9 and know that a 650 will get them to 210.0. 4 week average tells you if working on your game has helped and how much you have improved over the last four weeks. Average at each center to show which center or centers you may need improvements at. Opens per game to indicate a how well you shoot spares and if you should practice on them because SPARES STILL WIN GAMES, 1.0 open per game is a goal I shoot for. Strikes per game is really another indicator of average, as 5.5 strikes per game is needed to average 200 and could also determine who you would want to anchor the team. Your opens and strikes per game will be a good indicator of what you average and tell others what kind of bowler you are. Clean games show bowlers that hit around the pocket leaving routine spares to fill marks in all ten frames. 5 baggers show you can put strikes together and keep the pressure on the other team.
To average above 210, you must average about 6.0 strikes per game and have no more than 1.3 opens per game. With 1.0 open per game, you could average 200 with about 4.8 strikes per game. (You need a turkey to make up for an open.)
How important are Spares? Most of you know the answer. With very few opens, you’re not beating yourself, you’re making your opponent beat you. Teams with the least opens over the season are the teams to beat in the Roll-Offs. In match play, individuals with clean games win about 80 percent of the time with half the losses being to other clean games bowled against them. You also will want to drop your opens per games to around 1.4 per game. Under 1.0 open per game is excellent as you will not have to strike as often to keep that high average. The difference between 1.3 and 1.0 opens per game is at least 5 pins in average.
You already know the importance of strikes, so naturally you want to keep your strikes per game as high as possible. If you’re at 5.5 strikes per game, set your next goal for 5.7 and so on. These goals will not only result in confidence to throw strikes, but when games are on the line, will almost become repetition. It's like throwing 300's, the first is the most difficult and the rest becoming a little easier.
If you bowl a lot of tournaments or bowl in a traveling league, using a notebook to keep your average each game can tell you what adjustments need to be made. I don’t keep each bowlers average per game except on their individual card but most bowlers have an idea of what it is. A lower average in the opening game can be that you need to change equipment or that you are playing the right area but not the right angle. It could also be that you arrive late a few times and are not lined in soon enough. A low 2nd game could indicate lanes breaking down and you’re not adjusting fast enough. Try to avoid that low final game as this shows that you need to make faster adjustments, change equipment to combat the changing conditions, that you are physically tired or that you may be mentally burnt out or frustrated by the conditions. (Don’t fool yourself when you’re timing is off and blame it on the lanes.) Also charting which ball works at what centers would be very helpful as well as noting starting points and the area you're playing so you have a starting point next time there. Knowing what ball to use is sometimes half the battle. I have averaged over 215 a couple of times in the Traveling Masters using the same equipment except for about one or two weeks. You should also keep track of adjustments made during the evening to help indicate as to when adjustments might need to be made the next time there. With some lanes the track area dries up and you might need to move inside into the oil. Other times, the oil carries down and you might need to play a little more outside. With the reactives, the oil might carry down one week and then next week, evaporate.
This explains why I keep the statistics that I do and hopes that it helps you improve your game. I enjoy using numbers and it keeps the league more enjoyable. The stats show what it takes to record those wonderful averages so use the stats to chart your progress and to improve your shot making ability.
GOOD LUCK & See you in the ZONE!!!
Pg. 30: 7/3/20
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