Monday, March 22, 2010

The Calmer Way to Better Bowling

Did any of you watch Alex Aguiar take it to Chris Barnes in Saturday's "Chris Barnes Challenge"? I did, and it wasn't pretty. Aguiar shot 626. Barnes shot 524.

But it wasn't only what Chris shot that made the contest so ugly, it was the WAY he shot it. He smirked and grimaced and juggled balls all the way through it and finally just figuratively if not literally threw up his hands in resignation.

That was what disappointed me the most about Barnes' performance. I think maybe he's been so good for so long that he expects to do well all the time and hasn't learned to handle struggle and defeat with exemplary professionalism and grace.

Can you imagine Earl Anthony carrying on like that? Or do you think he would have continued calmly trying to figure out the lanes, correct his mistakes, and stay in the hunt until the end? And do you think he, even in this modern age of bowling ball mania, would have kept going back and forth between all those balls, or would he have taken a couple at most and tried his best with line, speed, and release adjustments to make them work?

I realize that we're all different. We have different temperaments and styles and ways of doing things, and what works best for some may work worst for others. But I wonder if there isn't an optimal way to approach bowling psychologically and strategically that works best for virtually everyone.

During the Chris Barnes Challenge Saturday night, Del Ballard noted how upset Barnes seemed to be and said it was good to get angry because this focuses you on your game more intensely and makes you bear down, try harder, and do better. But it didn't seem to be helping Chris.

I personally don't see the value in getting upset at yourself or the lanes or your opponent or whatever. It seems to me that you aren't consciously trying to make mistakes. You're trying to do the best you can, and when things aren't going well, there are reasons or causes for why they aren't. So, rather than get all bent out of shape, why not keep your cool and try to figure out what's amiss and correct it and keep on trying to make the best shots you can?

I guess there's such a thing as being too cool and not caring enough about what you're doing up there on the lanes to do your very best. But surely there's an optimal middle ground between that and what we see from a lot of bowlers on TV, in our own bowling leagues and tournaments, and maybe even in ourselves too much of the time.

Maybe there's a better way, and maybe we can find and discuss it here together.


  1. I wonder if this is one of the keys to better public appeal?

    The way you describe Chris' behavior is not at all unusual for many of the PBA stars. Rash, Malott, Weber, Koivuniemie and others are right there with Barnes when things aren't going their way.

    OTOH, I don't think you could find a more competitive spirit, fire in the eye type of player than on the women's tour, but without the pouting, spoiled child behavior or self-flagellation so often seen on the men's tour.

    Liz Johnson, Lynda Barnes, Kelly Kulick, Shannon O'Keefe, Stephanie Nation, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Michelle Feldman are fierce and capable competitors. But, their ferocity is generally limited to the time they're facing the pins. These women are class acts all the way, capable of both winning and losing with grace and style. The men's tour could learn a lot from them, IMO.


  2. I agree with Kerry. The men could learn a lot from the women in regards to temperament