Fair Witness

Here is a wonderful story from Steve Jensen of Colorado Springs about consciousness, practice, lane conditions and the real value of non-judgmental awareness or what Robert Heinlein called a 'Fair Witness'. If you asked a Fair Witness what color the house was, she would tell you it was 'white on this side' - making no judgments about what she could not see or know to be true. A refreshing perspective....

"I went through a period of about 14 days where my spare game just TANKED! I could hardly convert something easy like a 2,3,8,9 - much less either corner, which I simply could not begin to convert. I was missing right/left, the whole gamut. I received all kinds of well intentioned advice from my bowling buddies, but nothing seemed to help.

So, one day I went to the bowling center a little early to work on my spare game. No matter what I tried, my accuracy just stunk. I even tried the eyes closed exercise to no avail. Then two things happened:

1) I had a hunch something must be wrong with my armswing.

2) I noticed Ryan (son of one of the aforementioned bowling buddies) watching me. So I had Ryan hold a pencil up and align it with my armswing while I attempted to throw a shot straight down the boards. Naturally, my shots were just about everything but straight down the boards.

After I had thrown several shots I asked Ryan what my armswing was doing in relation to the pencil. He said my armswing was moving to the outside during the backswing.That was great! He's young and doesn't "know" anything about bowling, so he didn't try to interpret what I was doing (no stories about fast feet, etc.); he just reported on it. So, I moved the ball from the middle of my chest to more in line with my shoulder and two shots later everything was fine again. I haven't missed a single pin since... :) Yeah!

Apparently I had gradually moved the ball from in line with the shoulder to more in the middle of my chest over the last several weeks and hadn't noticed it. That's all it was. It was a breakdown in my pre-shot routine. When I'm bowling well, the next-to-last thing I do is check the alignment of my ball and bowling shoulder and the set of my wrist. All of a sudden I realized I had stopped making that check.

What's interesting is that this little screw-up was hardly noticeable during my first ball. (I did notice a drop in scores, but I attributed it to my spare game entirely--that was wrong, I believe.) That tells you how helpful the lane conditions really are. When I took the lane condition out of play during my spare shots (absolutely straight ball release), I saw my "true" accuracy and it stunk. However, with all the guidance from the lane conditions, my errant shots were redirected to my intended line and they didn't appear to be all that bad. It wasn't like I couldn't get to the pocket -- I "just wasn't carrying". Hilarious! I am NOT going to fall into that trap again....

If I were playing on a real condition, my errors would have been much more obvious, the motivation to fix it much greater, and it wouldn't have taken two weeks to figure out.