Practice Report: March 5, 2021
March 5, 2021
I continue to practise putting intentional rotation on the ball. I have chosen to make this my singular mechanical focal points for now: a kind of object of bowling meditation. When in doubt, put more rotation on the ball. Eventually this will become a problem for me, but that's future me's problem.
Today I wanted to integrate some mental aspects into my practice, notably relentless focus on feeling the rotation in my fingers. I wanted to feel both the ball coming off my fingers and the feeling of "one hand clapping" as my fingertips followed through the release back into the fat pad on my hand. I was hoping to make progress on noticing either of these physical sensations and would have been thrilled to make progress on both.
Well... something amazing happened.
I finished one of my practice sprints with 5 strikes. They felt good. I felt good. I rested, then decided to do the same drill again, just to see how well I kept my focus. I got back up, then threw 3 more strikes. I had a moment that reminded me a lot of my previous practice session, where my mind had wandered from the process to the results and I had immediately thrown a terrible shot. This time, I had a flicker of "Ooh! 8 in a row!" which started to fall away as quickly as it appeared, but for me, it was too little too late: I pitched left. Not by a lot, but by enough. Haha!
But then it got really interesting, because I saw that I did that, I laughed gently at it, and then I felt genuinely not surprised by it. It's just a thing my mind does sometimes. And then it felt fine! I just didn't worry about it. I didn't frame it as a problem to solve. It just happens. Oh well. That sucks a little, but it's nothing I need to worry about.
And then I shot two more strikes and pitched right, which would have been the 10th frame. If I were scoring the game, that would have been 400 on the dot. (I gave myself the spare in the 9th, because, well, it's my mind and I can.) I smiled at shooting a 400 and then gently put that out of my mind. I went back to focusing on throwing balls with really good rotation and the physical feelings in my fingers.
And then everything changed. I. Just. Kept. Throwing. Strikes.
I think I got to about 7 or 8 when I started counting again. This time, I laughed because I couldn't help myself. I stood there for a moment telling myself out loud, "This doesn't help you. You know that. It only messes you up. These scores don't count for anything!" But I couldn't help myself. I kept counting.
I was getting stupid strikes (thanks, black bases!) and I was getting excellent strikes (picture perfect left-pocket hits). I was giggling with glee at the pin action from all this extra rotation: corner pins teetering over at the last moment, high strikes that looked like headpins until the last split second. At one point, I threw a good-but-not-great shot where the ball approached the head pin like it was trying to kill the damn thing. Crack! Aces. Both 3-pins seemed to be apologizing to me for not moving more. I chuckled.
And then I shot something like 18 or 19 straight strikes. Like it was nothing. (And yes, that's my first perfect game in any context. I'm quite sure that I'd never thrown 12 strikes in a row except in No Tap.)
I'm not sure exactly when the aces came, but I managed to count the shots overall. I had one more pitch towards the end of that sprint, but by then I couldn't have cared less. All total, it was 37 shots: 3 pitches, 1 set of aces, and the rest strikes. Combined with the 5 strikes at the end of the previous sprint, that was a strike rate of 90% overall (38/42) and 97% (38/39) when hitting the middle.
Yup. That's what happened. It just felt so easy, too. Good rotation plus robot mind. For about 15 minutes I felt like I couldn't miss if you paid me. And it wasn't just bravado: it was true. If I needed proof that it's in there, then I had my proof.
And that's why I switched balls in the next sprint. I'd learned enough from that. I could have thrown more strikes if I'd wanted to, but I wanted to learn something else. I knew my timing would change, but I wanted to feel the same physical sensations in my fingers. I immediately punched clean. Dead center. It's comical watching the head pin go straight back when a 5" ball hits it dead in the middle. I decided to see how many times I could do that. I shot 6 dead perfect headpins in 7 shots before my timing changed. For me, that was just like 6 more strikes out of 7.
Click here to read a detailed rundown of my practice session
Focus points are rotation and, if possible, robot mind.
- 6 minutes. Warm up. Neons (5"/3 lb 12 oz).
- Felt slowly better. Fingertips are tender from time off, but mostly good rhythm and rotation.
- 8 minutes. Aramiths (4 7/8"/3 lb 10 oz). Focus on the feeling in the fingers of having put rotation on the ball.
- I didn't do this perfectly, but I noticed the feeling in the fingers maybe half the time. When I twisted my wrist, I easily brought my mind back to the fingers. When I noticed myself rushing, I went back to the fingers. I finished this section with a few very good shots in a row.
- 10 minutes. Aramiths. Same intention.
- Fucking exceptional! 33 strikes in 37 shots. I absolutely knew that I was going to put good rotation on the ball on almost every shot. I found fantastic speed and everything felt comfortable.
- 12 minutes. Neons. Same intention. Timing will change due to the ball change, so don't panic.
- Tougher with the bigger and heavier balls. I eventually found good timing. I had one exceptional moment: in the middle of my approach, I felt my mind wander for a moment, but it instinctively snapped back to focusing on feeling the fingers. I was shocked by the incident and immediately emboldened. I felt a sudden shot of confidence.
- 12 minutes. Neons. Same intention with robotic focus on the fingers. Subtle determination.
- Very good. Even at moments when my mind wandered, I found it increasingly easy to come back to the fingers. Even when I missed my spot, I was only interested in the feeling in the fingers. It's harder to feel them with the bigger heavier balls, but it started coming along towards the end of this section.
- 12 minutes. Neons. Same intention. Different spot. 6 minutes over the 15 arrow and 6 minutes over the 25 arrow. [My normal shot is up the middle over the 20 arrow.]
- It took several shots to start trusting this line coming from farther left. My body kept wanting to drift left in order to make room. I gently guided my mind back to walking straight at the target. Towards the end I felt that well enough to resume focusing on the feeling in the fingers.
- 6 minutes. Aramiths. Corners.
- Good. Only shot left corners. A couple of shots I felt myself drifting, then stopped and came immediately back to the fingers. I felt mostly very comfortable.
- Game. Why not?
- Struggled to focus on the fingers, but less perhaps than in the recent past. Only two strikes, but a double. Score of 196. I had to laugh at how mediocre the game was compared to great results in the practice session. I still have work to do to convince my mind that it doesn't matter whether we're keeping score or not. Next time.
Just as in my previous practice session, I relaxed and I focused on throwing the ball aggressively. This time, I zeroed in on the physical feeling of good rotation in my fingers... and magic happened--at least for about 15 minutes. I don't remember how good my follow through was, but it was probably pretty good. Certainly good enough.
I had one moment where I felt a good habit putting down roots in my mind. I pushed away and my mind wandered--I don't remember to what. Before I knew what was happening, somewhere between and second step and my slide, my mind just returned itself to trying to feel the physical sensation of the ball coming off the fingers. I didn't consciously direct my mind to do that; my mind just went to the helpful place without conscious effort. It knew what to do and it did it. No nagging; no mental checklist.
Chunking. Excellent! So this is what trusting my shot feels like!
Progress was made. On to the next one.
- What are your early memories of trusting your shot? What did it feel like? Why do you think it happened?