The Epiphany


This whole thing started the week before we had our lesson here in Houston. I was at my tough house on a Wednesday for the senior league and had a 160 game. Same old stuff, aiming the ball, no follow through and just generally up tight like I usually am at that center. I was really upset with myself because I had worked so hard as had you with what I saw as minimal results.

As I sat there between games I had this, call it a vision (kind of like Saul on the road to Damascus, no thunder or lightning or voices from on High, however) of me rolling the ball perfectly. I also decided that I had to get loose and quit micro managing every shot. So before every shot that particular day I saw myself rolling the perfect shot: solid at the line, relaxed armswing, knee bent and great follow through. Then, with that in mind, as I got on the approach I tried to execute that shot. Shot 217, 224 and it has not stopped since.

For some reason this little routine has served to get me relaxed. I have a goal, execute the perfect Donk (a nickname) shot. Whatever I need to do just follows without it being a labored, thoughtful process. Get the shoulders aligned to my target, visualize the path of the ball, get the ball started, and follow through. As I said this is not a belabored thoughtful process; whatever thinking I do regarding lane changes, critique of the last shot etc. happens between shots on the chair. Once I get on the lane my intent is to execute the Donk shot and commit completely to that goal. Don't think about too much just do it.

In practice last night the lanes were a little slicker than they have been. I started the first game knowing that the ball was not quite getting to the pocket but nothing I did (moving on the approach, for example, seemed to help). As a consequence I was a little unsettled and not completely confident about the ball path I had selected. I executed the shot but not with complete confidence. So I did not carry well and missing the first two spares I shot at did not help. I think I had seven single pin leaves. All either the 7 or 10 pin except a stone 8 after one of the few strikes I had. So here I am frustrated as hell as demonstrated by the two really bad shots I threw in the 9th and 10th frames.

Between games I am thinking I need two 225 games to continue my string of 600's. I reviewed that first game in my mind and remembered that I had thrown some good shots. I was just uncertain about my line and I needed to execute and not let my frustration affect my shot making. I decided on a line I would use. I had moved a number of times the first game and I had an idea about where I wanted to play. I moved about two boards right to 20 on the approach and decided to hit 12 at the arrows. I executed the Donk shot perfectly and watched the ball as it crossed the arrows--RIGHT ON TARGET. It got out and rolled back perfectly to leave a 10 pin. I felt the shot was as good as I could roll and that the ball path was good. I played the same shot on the left lane and struck. Before you knew it I had three in a row and because my concentration was better, I found that I had a little room both right and left of my chosen line. All I had to do after that was see that perfect shot and execute. I had one light hit that somehow carried the 7 pin but the other nine were no-brainers. Amazingly, I am calm through all of this, the balls in the 10th, 11th, and 12th frames were crunchers. It's easy because all I have to do is see me executing the Donk shot and than do it.

I started the third game with a double (I shot a Buddy Bomar 300) and leave a 10 pin in the third frame. This is not what usually happens to me after a really good game. I usually am on an adrenaline high and have trouble executing well. Not the case last night or recently for that matter. I double again. Leave a couple of 10 pins and go out. 693, wow.

This visualization process seems to work. All I have to do is execute. Takes all the thinking out of the mix on the approach. I am relaxed because as a result of all our work I know the Donk shot is a possibility. Even my spare shooting has improved. I believe in myself. Decide on a line and commit to the shot. What happens down the lane happens, but I am satisfied that I rolled the ball well and that seems to be the big difference. I am satisfied with my performance and have been for the past few weeks. I guess knowing that I did my best on every shot is what has satisfied me the most and brought me peace.

God I feel good.