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Returning to Bowling after an Extended Break

It’s been some time since I’ve posted any articles here mainly because I ran into some personal challenges that required my full attention after I finished off the league I was in this past Fall.  Once things finally calmed down a bit, I received a call from a buddy of mine asking if I could jump on-board with them after one of his guys had to quit.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance as these were my best friends and we all started league bowling together about two years ago…so we essentially got the band back together again and we’re now on the Mission from God ala The Blues Brothers.

Now, there two major areas that I want to cover in this article based on what to expect when coming back to the game of ten pin bowling after an extended amount of time away.  Not that you forget how to bowl, but there may be changes that need to be addressed before you start up again and run into some unexpected results of your game.

Physical Expectations

The obvious subject on making a return to bowling after some time away, is to consider the physical aspects of the process.  We’re not simply talking about knocking the dust off your swing, although that can definitely be an important attribute to keep in mind.  In my case, I was returning to my primary bowling house – the Fall league was in a totally different bowling alley, tied to a different company – and the change in both the environment, lane construction as well as lane conditions, were dramatically different.

House Environment Changes – When you participate in a league, you become used to the lanes and other overall features of the bowling alley.  You’ve more than likely invested time into honing your swing and delivery to match your style and expectations with that of the lane conditions.  When you change houses, everything else has to change and you will need to readjust your entire delivery again to sync up with the new conditions.

Delivery Changes – Due to the environment changes mentioned above, I had to essentially reinvent my typical setup and approach.  I have a hard hook in my delivery in such, I start out with my right foot with my toes right on the 5 board.  Thus, by the time I deliver the bowling ball to the lane, I’m aiming for the third arrow from the right and the ball hooks hard in the backend and I tease the gutter every time.  As cool as it looks, the shift to the new house was different enough to where I have to start out now on the 3 board, and still keep my aim on the same spot on the lane.  Be prepared for these changes no matter where you are.

Mental Expectations

Much like any other game out there, ten pin bowling is much more mental than it is physical.  Now, obviously we need the physical aspects to get the ball from our hands to the pocket, but everything before, during and after the entire routine is the game going on in our minds.  Coming back to a new house, or new league, after a break includes having to deal with some mental hurdles as well.

Your Average Will Shift – Taking a break will in many cases remind you that, unless you have been practicing, your muscles have weakened up a bit.  Yes, muscular work is physical, but stick with me here.  Upon the first few frames, your mind will expect you to simply pick up where you left off before the break, and your expectation may simply be – “I ran with a 203 average before I took off, I should still have it three months later!”.  Umm…I’m guessing you don’t.  So, if you end up tossing a 150 game, don’t beat yourself up although you expected to roll a 190.  Give yourself time to ease back into things.

Find Comfort in the Environment – It’s been awhile and perhaps the place has changed a bit since you’ve been there last.  The seasonal banners may have changed, the snack bar may have been remodeled, there are new people on the league and the staff may have had some turnover.  I obviously knew the guys I was bowling with as they’ve been childhood friends, but I didn’t know anybody else there.  Even the staff was different aside from one working in the lounge.  Being the “new kid” after time away, may bring some unexpected anxiety, but don’t let that ruin your good time and don’t let it stop you from playing your best.  Melt into the environment, take it in and relax.

Give Yourself a Break and Take it Easy

Your numbers probably won’t be exactly where you want them to be come the first few nights of league play.  My first night back on league bowling, at the different house pulled in a 185 and 223 for the first two games, respectively but the last game finished out at 138.  Not bad, but before my break, my average was 191 so the lower game did indeed mess with my mind.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t have asked for a better return and I definitely wasn’t expecting to toss a 223 in the second game, but while trying to relax and go back to basics in my delivery trying to get the feel for the house, that’s what happens.

So hopefully, with my return to the lanes, I can fire up the drive to keep writing here again for you and I’m hoping to build up a solid and supportive community for all of us to learn from and lean on, so do me a favor and chime in by leaving a comment below, then tell your friends and family about the blog here and let’s get the party going, shall we?