Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My First Bowling Ball, First Bowling Shoes

Recent requests for information leads me to make a few points to those of you that are new bowlers or recreational (low involvement) bowlers. Please do not misunderstand this post, there are 10's of millions of you that bowl every year, just that with the continuing technology and advancements made in the bowling industry, the bowling ball or bowling shoe is not like what grandpa (or great grandpa) used to use!

Many people view a bowling ball or performance shoes like a commodity item, like a shirt or an apple or a screw. Find it cheap and pick up what you need. If you have been shopping lately, there are so many of the above mentioned items it's almost dizzying to consider a purchase. So, between the Fugi, Gala, Golden Delicious, etc., there surely is an apple you like best (that works best for you). Similarly in bowling the right item, let's call them the right tool, will work best, too.

The wrong size screw or shirt certainly will NOT work, so to, with today's modern bowling equipment. Bowling balls, while some are intricately made with resin infused polyurethane covers and built around up to 7 pounds or more of complex inner workings, the core system, some are made just like the house ball you may have rolled when you were a kid first playing this sport or like grandpa's (or great grandpa's) old two finger rubber ball from "awhile ago."  

Just like picking the right size shirt, the look of the shirt must work for you. So let us consider ball weight as something akin to the size of a shirt. If you pick an extremely light ball, to have more "control" of it, you will often find yourself "controlling" it right into the gutter. Weight must be a determining factor for ball choice as it contributes to the effect of your ball. I am sure you have seen plenty of lighter bowling balls bouncing right off the pins hardly toppling a one. The synergistic potential of you swinging a ball without needing to accelerate it, because it is too light or possibly even that it is too heavy, helps create a consistent, momentum and gravity driven swing that is VERY repeatable. Repeatable, like it's better to get two strikes together than one. Better to get three? Five? Repeatable is good in bowling.

Now let us consider the look of our shirt/bowling ball. Color is a personal preference. Having something you like will clearly help you enjoy the shirt. But bowling balls come in some outrageous colors, these days. Just like the guy in the wildly colored shirt, that shirt surely catches your eye and gets your attention. But simpler color pallets can be pleasing, calming, workable in bowling balls, just like a new shirt.

But when you notice more than one of the outrageous colors rolling down the lane, often you notice a dramatic effect created. Ball manufacturers realized along time ago, with bright yellow, dull yellow, dull white and every manner of bright red, that a unique and dramatic color will get peoples attention.

So, the very dramatic colors had better work very well, or people will steer clear of the bright stuff in droves. Look close, today you will see multi color balls of yellow, orange, gold, red, and my favorite PINK, mixed with black, blue purple, etc., for dramatic effect, doing very neat things on bowling lanes all over the world.

You do not want a ball to hook like crazy. Then you will also notice the green, black and blue, and darker hues, work nicely for many bowlers, often with less ground covered out and back on every shot. Effectiveness is not solely living in bright colored balls. More often it is not the ball that is magically striking down those pins but the skills of the person rolling the ball that is performing the magic. A bowling ball that fits correctly helps create the magic you might be looking for. More on ball fit in a future article.

Lastly, when considering the bowling shoe, there are many options. The shoe with a universal sole, works for lefthanders or right handers, is a workhorse. The more basic sport shoes last a long time, breaks in quickly, and often there are a bevy of colors and styles. But like any shoe, the nuance of fit should be investigated. Make sure to check in at the local bowling store, often inside the bowling center you bowl in. Check out the choices and try on some styles that work for you. The specialty retailer that you meet is committed to serving you, the bowler. He or she can be your best asset and confidante when it comes to all things bowling. 

Higher up the bowling shoe ladder is the performance shoe. Often priced comparably to other high performance sports footwear. The more complicated shoes, often made of leather, with colorful trim and accessories, will often last for a decade or more. The accessories can include: multiple soles and heels, pouches to carry the shoes, shoe covers to protect them and more.  The advanced options, usually help serve bowlers that bowl in multiple locations. Multiple soles and heels can provide vastly different potential to limit the amount of slide you get or increase your slide. Creating just the right amount of slide helps a player duplicate their delivery. Repeatability.  

Covering the shoes as you do everything else in a bowling center, but bowl, protects the soles and heels from getting contaminated by moisture or particulates from carpet, etc. Shoe covers are strongly recommended. If you purchase more basic shoes for a small additional investment you can get the additional protection from a number of makers.

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