Sunday, September 16, 2007

What's with all the Dots and Arrows?

You've seen them every time you get up to bowl: dots and arrows are EVERYWHERE, but no one ever told you what they were for! They probably have something to do with aiming, but since you're just looking at the pins and hurling the ball at them, you don't know how to use them!

Aha - well, they ARE incredibly useful, and once you understand what they're all about, you'll finding yourself relying on those lane markings more and more.

First, even the approach itself has information you can use. Let's start there. Every lane on EVERY bowling alley has common characteristics. One of them is that the boards are (on average) one inch wide. There are 39 of them from the edge of each gutter. If you're one of those people who like to think in terms of the properties of odd numbers, it means there's a central board: #20.

NOW, unfortunately, there are two ways of numbering the boards. Right-to-left and left-to-right. Most people go right to left, because they're right handed bowlers. Left-handed bowlers tend to place board #1 as the left-most board and work from there. For EVERYONE though, board 20 is board 20. Yay. If you look at lane close up, there will either be five dots on the deck or seven (that difference depends on which lane manufacture built your bowling center and to some extent when it was done). Each of these dots are five boards (so about five inches) apart, and mark boards numbered 10, 15, 25, and 30 (or also 5 and 35). At the foul line, the same dots usually appear on the same boards. The dot on board #20 is sometimes slightly larger, making it easier to find your place.

These are the map of the lanes for showing the location of the dots on the approach. One set is mid-way so you can use them to set yourself up with the ball, the other set is just at the foul line. This allows you to either check to make sure you're not drifting during your approach, or to set up deliveries that aren't parallel to the pins.

But the dots on the apporach are a tool, even for the most inexprienced bowler. Why? Because it allows you to set up in the same place when you want a consistent delivery (typically for strike shots applying no adjustments). By being as consistent as possible you'll improve your game. So, with a little practice to find the right "spot" on the approach based upon where the dots are, you can be more confident that you're starting off right.

Out yonder - on the lane - there are seven arrows. They are on the SAME boards as the dots, centered on board 20, spaced 5 boards apart. They're another important tool because they tell you where to aim. Most beginner bowlers tend to look at the pins setting up the and executing the delivery - that's natural since they're the ultimate target. However, the arrows give you an advantage: they're only 15 feet away, whereas the pins are 60 feet away! So, your targeting precision is greatly increased using the arrows for targeting instead of the pins themselves, especially for picking up spares. The right combination of starting position and target, in combination with making adjustments for lane conditions, will increase your chances of making any spare or split (some like the 7-10 will still fall under "slim" :-) but you'll have that more of a fighting chance).

There are other markings too - small dots closer to the gutters - five on each side. They're also for setting targets, typically for more advanced targeting using angles.

Most of the medium- and high-average bowlers use these markings as fundamental tools. The more you learn, the more you can compete on their turf. :-)

More to come.


Rishi said...

For someone like me who practice a lot just to keep it straight(inconsistently) without knowing the tools to achieve a strike, this was very helpful :-)

CBTestGroup said...

Ditto Rishi's comments. Thank you!