I visualize every time I hit the lanes a chance to string a series of strikes in such a way to roll a perfect 300 game.
I never rolled one until 2006, 30 years after competitively starting the game. Part of me thought I would be like Charlie Brown, always seeking to kick the football and be the hero only to have Lucy pull it from her grasp and see Charlie land flatly on the ground.
I’d see many of my friends and bowlers who started the game well after me with only a few years of experience roll their first one. I’d be happy for them, attempting to disguise a twinge of jealousy surrounding my efforts. I figured out years later that once you master the physical aspects of something, the balance shifts to being more of a mental process rather than a physical process.
After a few misfires in the 11th and 12th frames, my first 300 came on a night when I had a horrible practice session. It didn’t seem like anything was working right. So I went back to basics on the pair of lanes I started league on, and sure enough everything clicked. From there over the next 13 months I would roll two more perfect games- and worked on the consistency of my scores.
Before Thursday night, it was 2 1/2 years since that third perfect game. Once again it was another night where I felt lost after bowling a great 248 game. I made the wrong moves when the oil transitioned. I made an unnecessary ball change. So I went back to the original ball and changed my hand position, playing a little left and straighter to keep the ball in better control of the pocket.
I would end game two with 4 strikes and throw the next 12 for my fourth 300 game. I still felt the nerves in the 12th frame- especially because the whole league stopped to watch me finish things off.
I never thought I would throw a perfect game in this house. While it is a high scoring house, for some reason my ball roll doesn’t usually match up well to the conditions. I tend to leave a lot of back row single pins after stringing 3-4 strikes in a row, thus my highest game in 3 years there was a 290.
There are good things to look for when you are patient. I kept my head in the game. I took one shot at a time. I had a good break in the 8th frame when one of my teammates noticed I really got out of the ball cleanly and fast.
But I know at this point, bowling is more about the mental aspect than the physical aspect for my game. As long as I can repeat the same motion and shots, keeping myself relaxed and on task is the key to throwing great shots and carrying 10 pins.
I do my best to apply this patience and focus to other areas of my life. With so much going on and swirling about, it serves me best to place 100% attention to the immediate task at hand- be it my family, my job, my writing, my reading, my bowling, or spending time with my friends.
And now the weekend comes. Plus Mother’s Day for my wife. She certainly deserves a good one- 2010 has been quite a year for her and our children. Keep smiling, keep sharing, keep caring for your fellow man.