My experience at the world men's championships

Posted by: Luksa

My experience at the world men's championships - 08/30/08 03:42 PM

CoachJim encouraged me to write a little something about my experiences here at the WMC 2008 in Bangkok.

We came here only one day before the official practice, which was quite a problem because of jet lag - and on top of that, we had to get up at 6am local time to catch the bus to the bowling center (that meant I had to get up at 1am my normal time).

The first thing that caused problems was the approach. Usually on AMF lanes, the lighter colored boards are on 9,10,11 and 19,20,21 etc... but here, the boards on the lanes were the same as at home, but on the approach, they were offset ... on each lane differently. This forced me to start aligning on the arrows, which I'm not used to - at home I usually line up on the light-dark board pattern, which I've gotten to know by heart.

Then we noticed that the approach was offset by 1/2 or 3/4 boards on some lanes. The dots befure the foul line were offset by 1/2 board compared to the arrows on the lane. Not only that, it appeared as if the lanes were at an angle to the approach boards (I took a photo and will check if this was just an optical illusion or not).

I throw my spare ball perfectly straight, but I kept missing the ten pin to the right (but just barely). I tried to adjust by moving one board to the right, but it didn't help. I still don't know if it was the approach-lane-angle thing or if it was simply me. My spare conversion percentage really was the cause of my low scores (166 average over the whole championship).

I'm not really dissapointed but I am amazed at how unconcentrated I was. There was maybe one single shot I executed as I should.

These are the things I figured out here:

- you don't need to have perfect form and execution to be have great results (there were A LOT of bowlers with less than perfect swings here - including the americans).

- you can become a champion by having a really good spare game. The conditions here were extremely tough. People who basically made every spare, were the ones who came up on top.

- even though a pattern is meant to be played in a certain area, your strategy could be to play in a totally different area: the long pattern here was supposed to be played out to 8 or 9 board and a lot of people played it like that - moving left every couple of shots. But this caused the middle part of the lane to be burnt completely and the lane actually emphasized every error you made instead of fixing it. On the last day of the singles competition, I was acting as coach to two of our team members. After trying every possible line in the middle of the lane, out to 9-10 board (and getting washouts, splits, brooklyns) I finally said to my team members that they should move right and just play up 7 board. What was incredible is that they actually had some area there. So, even though the pattern itself was not as forgiving around the 7 board as it was left of that, when the oil broke down, the 7, 6 boards were much more forgiving than the lines left of that.

Anyway, I learned A LOT. My plan used to be, to try to make my execution text-book perfect, but now I plan on practicing totally different things. I know feel that you just need to have good timing and close to perfect execution. Once you achieve that, there's no sense in making everything perfect - it will not enhance your score. When I come back home, I'm gonna practice only looking at my target and watching the ball go down the lane, so I'll be able to tell where the ball went for each and every shot (so far, I have only been able to do that, when I really really concentrated). Beside that, I will take a few weeks to practice spares only. Keeping track of spare statistics is A MUST.

Despite the bad results, it was a great experience. I got to know Walter Ray (he even says hi everytime we see each other) and Bill Hoffman (we were drinking with him at the hotel lounge yesterday and he told us a lot about how to develop the sport in our country). Beside these two, I also saw the whole team usa, Mika Koivuniemi, Patrick Healy (he was coaching team Kuwait), Tim Mack (coaching Sweden) and Shannon O'Keefe (she's a fox :)). So even seeing these guys was worth every penny I had to spend on the plane ticket.

I have slow-motion release videos of Chris Barnes, Walter Ray, Mika, Tommy Jones and Osku Palermaa. I will post them as soon as I come back home.

I also measured some of the guys' rev rates - Chris and Mika were throwing at around 400rpm, Walter Ray at around 260rpm.

This is all I can think of now...

Once again, thanks to everyone on this forum. I am here in Bangkok because of all the people who answer questions here as well as the people who post them. I have learned A LOT from the posts here, most notably the posts about grip and completely relaxing your hand and arm. I suggest everyone to trust the advice given here and try it. Stop making up excuses for not trying to change your grip and start being fair to yourself and try to really not grip the ball. Don't be afraid to drop the ball in the backswing - this is the only way you will know your grip is or is not ok.

ok, enough for now. if anyone has any questions, I'll be glad to answer them.

Posted by: Richie V.

Re: My experience at the world men's championships - 08/30/08 04:43 PM

Marko, I think I replied to your post in the "Bowler's Lounge" thread that the fact that the bowlers that did well had good spare games should emphasize the importance of the spare game even at the elite international level.

I hope you enjoyed your stay in Thailand, anyway. Did you ever meet up w/ Pattayabowler, the native Thai bowler from here?
Posted by: Atochabsh

Re: My experience at the world men's championships - 08/30/08 05:00 PM

Quote:
The first thing that caused problems was the approach. Usually on AMF lanes, the lighter colored boards are on 9,10,11 and 19,20,21 etc... but here, the boards on the lanes were the same as at home, but on the approach, they were offset ... on each lane differently. This forced me to start aligning on the arrows, which I'm not used to - at home I usually line up on the light-dark board pattern, which I've gotten to know by heart.

Then we noticed that the approach was offset by 1/2 or 3/4 boards on some lanes. The dots befure the foul line were offset by 1/2 board compared to the arrows on the lane. Not only that, it appeared as if the lanes were at an angle to the approach boards (I took a photo and will check if this was just an optical illusion or not).


Thanks so much for that report. It sounds like it was one of those Once In A Lifetime events. I really enjoyed reading that.

As pertaining to the two paragraphs above. It immediately made me think of a center in San Jose. One where the dots on the approach do NOT line up with the dots on the lane and the arrows. Its only one lane (#4) but if you don't know that about this house then you could get thrown off. When the center went to synthetics....sure enough, lane 4 was still one board off lane vs approach. That was not the first time I had leaned to never trust the approach vs the lane. Another center in San Jose, the approaches are about 18 inches longer then normal. If you start 2 inches in front of the dots, you are a foot or so off lengthwise on your approach. As a person that still laments the loss of wood lanes and wood approaches, I cannot imagine counting on those light and dark boards on the synthetic approaches. It just never occured to me. I check the dots, the dots at the approach, the dots at the foul line, the arrows. If all is well, then I procede as usual.
But then on wood lanes, I used to target imperfections in the wood up and down the lane. That you can no longer do on synthetics. I still wish we had wood approaches and wood lanes.

Keep up the report. I look forward to your other impressions of the tournament.

Erin
Posted by: Brandon510

Re: My experience at the world men's championships - 08/30/08 05:16 PM

Marko,
Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you had a great experience there meeting people from around the world. I bet it was a blast eventhough you didnt bowl so good but you had fun.

Posted by: CoachJim

Re: My experience at the world men's championships - 08/31/08 09:06 AM

Thanks for taking the time to make this thread it sounds like you had the experience of a lifetime.

Dr. Jeff Briggs used to coach in Singapore and India, as well as several other countries, he said the quality of lane construction is suspect at best he showed me pictures of lanes with 6 boards between some arrows and 4 board between others, dots not lining up with arrows, no arrows, big gaps between boards, burn marks where the friction of the ball has burnt and warped the heads where the ball lands because of no oil, so I guess things could have been worse.

I sure wouldn't coach anyone to bowl like Walter Ray does, but he is the best in the world and form and rev rate are not what got him there that's for sure.

Thanks again, and congrats on just making the team to be there, I'm looking forward to seeing those slow motion vids. Have a safe trip home.
Posted by: Brian Pickell

Re: My experience at the world men's championships - 08/31/08 08:23 PM


Is it really a problem to have the dots/board color of the approach off a little? Sure I use them, but where I line up changes every time I bowl due to differing lane conditions. I find my line and then try to repeat. I don't start at 20 every single time at every single house. I throw a few test shots to find out where I need to stand -vs- where I need to target. It really shouldn't matter if they are off or not..
Posted by: Luksa

Re: My experience at the world men's championships - 09/01/08 04:13 AM

The misalignment only played a part during spares. I missed the ten pin by 1/2" to the right at least 8 times (the ball would go in the gutter just an inch or two before the pin).

During the finals, during the close up shots of the pins, I could see that the pin deck was narrower than the lane by at least 1/2" or 3/4" on each side, so maybe that was the real problem.


We ran into Tim Mack yesterday at the Hard Rock Cafe and his opinion was that even though it seems the US team dominated the championship, it was only because of the finals format (single game matches). He was also pretty [censored] he wasn't in the team or at least the coach for team USA.
Posted by: CoachJim

Re: My experience at the world men's championships - 09/01/08 08:24 AM

Tim Mack knows the coaching situation for team USA, you have to work your way up from the lowest rung and then the head coach has to leave before anyone else moves up so it takes a long time. What was Tim doing there, was he coaching for another team? Besides the coach for team USA didn't have to do much with that team in the first place except say "you bowl here in this squad with this person etc..." He wasn't on the team because who would you rather have, Walter Ray or Tim Mack? Bill Hoffmann won the us amature last year, so he has to be on the team, and when they decided to let pros bowl this year it was all over for Mack.
Posted by: Luksa

Re: My experience at the world men's championships - 09/01/08 12:21 PM

Mack was here as coach for team Sweden.

He was mostly saying he should have been in the team instead of Bill Hoffman, because he supposedly doesn't really bowl anymore.

Posted by: Pattayabowler

Re: My experience at the world men's championships - 09/01/08 10:33 PM

I posted this on the Bowler's Lounge forum, but thought it might have some relevance here also. Luksa, I couldn't find you man; I was there on Thursday to watch the Single's Squad 1 play, but couldn't stay for the night session. I was there for the entire Master's competition on Saturday. I agree with Luksa concerning the lane conditions at the bowling center, but just think, this is one of the better bowling centers. I live about 2 hours outside of Bangkok and the lane conditions at my bowling center are even worse. I complain to Dennis about them from time to time, especially the poor quality of the machines laying down the oil pattern; it's never consistent.

Richie V, I'm not Thai, but just an American retired and living in Thailand with my Thai wife; I just don't want to confuse anybody.

I don't really have a technical analysis to offer of the tournament, but here's my thoughts from a spectators point of view:

My wife and I have had a busy, but enjoyable week. We drove back up to Bangkok early Saturday morning to arrive in time for the start of the final day of bowling, the Masters competition. Competition began precisely at 8:00 AM so we left home just a little past 6:00 AM to arrive about 10 minutes before competition was to begin. At 8:00 AM, there were very few spectators so when we arrived; we headed straight for where Walter Ray Williams Jr. was setting up to bowl. It was an unfortunate draw, but Walter Ray and Rhino Page were paired up in the first round of the best 3 of 5 game match play. Later that morning, I was able to sit down and chat with Rhino for a bit while watching some of the other completion. I mentioned to him that is was a shame that he and Walter were matched up so early; that I would have liked to see an all American final. He replied, not an exact quote, "Yeah, I qualify 2nd in the All Events and I have to get Walter Ray in the first match." Walter Ray took the match 3-1. Due to the early morning hours, I was able to sit or stand right behind the bowlers and was able to get some good video footage of the match. Walter Ray and Rhino was playing near the far end of the center on lanes 33 & 34 I think. Most of the spectators were at the other end watching the European bowlers. The British, Fins, Danes and the Koreans seemed to have the most fans present.

Tommy Jones had a tough time in his match that extended to 5 games. He bowled ok, but this guy, Osku Palermaa of Finland was unbelievably hot, especially in the final game. He is a two-handed bowler who throws extremely hard and has one hell of a hook. Anyway, he reeled off strike after strike in the final game and took Tommy 279-244 in game 5 to advance. Osku Palermaa would later take Walter Ray to 5 games in the quarter-final match.

Patrick Allen was paired with Choi Bok-Eum, Korea in the opening round. Choi Bok-Eum was the All Events gold medal winner, just edging out Rhino Page who was leading before the Singles completion. Neither bowled really well with Patrick opening with a 143. Choi Bok-Eum took the match 3-1 and would later bowl against Walter Ray in the semi-final match.

By the time that the final came around, Walter Ray was in his groove. He was paired against Jesper Agerbo, Denmark who had just destroyed his competitor, Dominic Barrett, England in their semi-final match 3-0.

The final match, as with all of the finals, was televised live and as far as I know only Thai Sports channel 3, unfortunately all of the commentary was in Thai language. Like I said before, Walter Ray Williams was in his groove and took the match 3-0 for his third gold medal.

All of the American bowlers were very friendly and approachable. Tommy and I spoke a little concerning the flooding in the southeast. Several of the bowlers, particularly Rhino Page gave some of his balls away after his final match. I wish I could have gotten one as the balls are very expensive to purchase overseas. I really liked Walter Ray's Stars & Stripes spare ball; I even told him so, but he replied, "I like it too!". So much for getting a free ball (lol).

Final thoughts, I don't understand why bowling is not an Olympic sport. With 330 bowlers from 57 countries, you would think that it could qualify; does anyone know why bowling has been Olympic competition status? I like the short oil/long oil lane bowling format. During the Masters completion, the bowlers alternated short oil and long oil each game. Rhino Page told me that they were going to bowl some short oil/long oil combinations on tour in the upcoming season for some of the competition. Out of all the teams participating, I was most impressed and surprised by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) team. I didn't even know that they bowled over there. I worked eleven years in Saudi Arabia and never saw a bowling center, note no team participated from Saudi Arabia in this year's competition, and I just assumed that bowling wasn't that popular among the Middle Eastern countries, but the UAE team came to bowl and bowled well.

I took some pictures of the awards ceremony following the Masters final, but I don't know how to upload them. They presented the medals for both the Masters and All Events winners.

Sorry for the long post, but I just felt like sharing my first experience attending a professional bowling tournament; it was an awesome experience.

Pattayabowler
Posted by: Pattayabowler

Re: My experience at the world men's championships - 09/01/08 11:12 PM

In his post, Luksa made the point that you don't have to have perfect execution to bowl well and I confess that there was some strange happenings going on with some of the bowler's approaches and releases. There were two-handed bowlers, bowlers with backswings that extended staight up to the 12 o'clock position, you name it, but the one thing that I consistently noticed was that, no matter what style of execution was used, the execution was repetitive and consistent.

I followed Walter Ray for the most part while I was there and his execution looked like one of those video clips set on continous loop. I couldn't tell any deviation in his approach, swing or release, even his line. I'm sure that he may have made minor changes of hand, speed and target area, but it was hard to see with the naked eye. Every match I saw, he rolled over the 5 board, give or take a board whether he was bowling on the short (34ft.) or the long (43ft.) pattern. I think that the most important thing that I learned from watching Walter Ray, other than his execution, was that his equipment matched the lanes and his style of bowling. He didn't try to make major adjustments with equipment that didn't fit the conditions. Walter Ray had some difficulty at the beginning of the tournament. He and Chris Barnes didn't bowl very well during the doubles competition and the first day of triples, but over the course of the tournament, Walter was able to figure out the patterns and by the latter half of the tournament, singles and masters competition, he was all set. During the masters competition, they alternated bowling games on the short and long patterns. From what I could see, and I was standing right behind him, he pretty much through the same line, but alternated between balls. He basically either rolled the MoRich NSane LVG/RG and I believe it was the Solid LVG/RG. I watched Walter bowled this way during the first match of the masters tournament against Rhino Page. Walter just plugged along using the outside line, switching balls every other game, basically just keeping it simple. On the other hand, Rhino would bowl the outside line on one lane then switch balls and roll inside out on the other, I think, adding a level of difficulty to the equation.

In addition to the above, I took from this event a little better understanding of lane patterns, I studied closely the different release styles, and matching your equipment to the conditions and be prepared to change quickly if your initial plan is not working. Even though Walter Ray continued to use the outside line, I noticed that during the practice session prior to each match, he would pull out additional balls and roll different lines to see the reaction of the balls.

Pattayadavid