The Practice Plan

Hello Coach,

I wanted to pass along to you that this evening I will be headed over the Mississippi River and through (or acutally across) the Gulf on my way to Ft. Lauderdale (again) and Nationals. I also would like to pass along to you that some of my fellow league bowlers have begun to notice a 'slight' improvement in my bowling skills over the past week. I have made every effort to credit you with any possible improvement due to your exemplary coaching abilities. Of course, I also mentioned that you have a long way to go with this inveterate student, who is, however, willing to try whatever the coach asks. I'm not really a sycophant you know. I have even placed my cheat sheet: uh, I mean my 'Practice Plan' sheet in my bowling bag so that it's readily available for perusal while bowling. I know there are some people who can remember all the things listed on that sheet but the deeper I get into the pangs of perimenopause, the more constant my search for the correct dosage of ginkoba and /or soy in order to return my memory to its previous reliable level. That might explain some of my practicing problems.

I would like to be able to tell you that I have mastered ALL the tasks you listed, but Ha Ha, I know you would laugh at that, I'll just say that I continue studiously working on all of them. Some of the tasks are becoming easier while others make me look like a novice instead of a 30+ year bowler. I'll persist with the practicing, Coach. I'm sure some of my problems are equipment issues, which should be resolved next month. I finally made contact with Mr. Askins and he will work my equipment problems June 11 or 12. That means I will be optimistically awaiting the chance to exhibit my newly developed skill (and solicitously awaiting my less than desirable display of washouts of the more difficult tasks you have so sagely assigned) so I will be ready for my next lesson around June 13 if that fits into your schedule. I will have the entire day available so please select the time and place that best fits your agenda.

As mentioned above I keep your 'practice plan' with me when bowling and I spend different parts of my 30 - 45 minute practice time working on certain tasks. Fortunately my youthful softball experiences still haunt my subconscious, so getting into that 'universal athletic pose' hasn't been too difficult to accomplish. I think my knees are flexed and hips are back, but please observe that I wrote 'think'. I also used to 'think' I walked straight until your video disproved that conviction.

I might have a handle on 'elbow on hip' and I would like to point out that I have established that (for me at least) the right elbow on the right hip seems to be the best strategy. I thought I had mastered the 'hand @ 4:30' but things aren't always as close as they appear (in or out of the mirror). I am still fumbling around a bit with the details. I could possibly be off 30 minutes either way or maybe I just can't differentiate between AM and PM. I'm sure you are more that capable of clarifying this issue for me my oh so estimable Coach! I definitely see '2R' on a somewhat regular basis and I seem to be at a point where taking my '2nd step to the left' is almost an unconscious act. At least the drifting problem 'seems' to be under control. That's a couple of problems (almost) conquered leaving several I will continue to work on, Coach.

I know you will be saddened to hear that I believe (or at least hope) I have managed to 'keep my head up.' I say saddened because I know you were so entertained by my modeling exhibition of that classy "indoor-lighting" visor. Darn, I guess I'll have to let that fashion statement go to someone else, unless you deem it necessary again, Coach, and I would never argue with your astute coaching process. I am also working, though not as successfully, on the 'shoulders back.' I think that is a softball habit that might encumber my progress. As a catcher, I tended to ball up in order to become a smaller target. Sometimes the batter wanted to smack me with the bat as I bantered with them in a sincere effort to assist in their temporary loss of concentration on the pitched ball. I'm sure it wasn't me personally they objected to, but possibly my witticisms they didn't care for. But I will try and get my 'shoulders back' as requested by my esteemed Coach. And again there is that '2R'.

As for the practice on 'longer slide-hips down and right leg on the floor (30%). Easy for you to say, uh, what I meant Coach is that I believe I can master those with more practice. I have been trying to lengthen my slide and am struggling miserably. Is it my foot...my shoe...my body alignment at the line...or just too much stuff in my perimenopausal brain?? I've tightened my shoelace...I've tried the new and improved #10 slide pad for my Dexter's but that was a bit much (which is actually an understatement), I almost slid out the door near lane #1...I have even resorted to sampling 'Easy Slide' and other such products that your are so adamantly against the use of. I'm sure being the august coach that your are, you can help me see the error of my ways on the sliding issue and prescribe the required correctional practice. Believe it or not, the 'hips down' is beginning to work. In fact that just began coming around this past week and I'm so relieved. I was beginning to think I had lost all my pythonic athletic abilities, except of course for my own variation of the 'universal athletic pose'.

Now about that 'right leg on the floor (30%). Was your intent the right LEG? I thought your intent might be the right FOOT...gosh I hope you meant the right foot because if you meant the right leg then I'm not even close to getting my hips down like I 'thought'. But you know, I think maybe I should just keep my mouth shut about that issue. I am already envisioning more incomparable coaching tools (much scarier than your visor) you might be tempted to pull out of your black bag (or white truck). But no, Coach, that is not a negative statement, just a reminder for me to renew my vow to continue practicing on 'hips down'. I just have to keep reminding myself how fulfilling that 200+ average will be. And about that '2R', you know Coach, just when I think I have that under control I find myself looking directly at my MARK just as I release the ball instead of looking '2R'. But I will continue to labor on it.

OK. The last tasks were about my 'follow through', 'extending out and up' and 'loose floppy arm', I 'think' (there is that word again) I've finally calculated that if I get my hips down (and now I'm concerned if they are really down enough) and keep my head up and shoulders back, well gosh, look at that, I almost always follow through with my arm, and it's easier to keep my head up...and my shoulders back. You know Coach, I think I'm beginning to see a lane approach blueprint appear here. Can it be true? Imagine that, but I'm sure you saw it all along. I'm still working the 'loose arm' and will hopefully some day deduce why that action is so erratic that I cannot yet find neither rhyme nor reason for why or when I will do it. I'll persist with the practicing, Coach. I am complying with your directions on 'Sport Bowling'; instead I'll concentrate on 4 or 5 35 to 45 minute practice sessions a week throughout the summer.

Hopefully I will be able to email you next week that I rolled at least a fair game or nice series at Nationals. But if I don't bowl well I will humbly accept the fact that in spite of all your exemplary coaching skills I'm still not quite the malleable student I need to be and so I'll strive to be more receptive to your teachings in the future. Have I told you that some of my peers think I'm an "apple-polisher"? They are wrong you know, I'm not sure why they would even think that of me. They all know I prefer strawberries and bananas to apples. What could they be thinking?

I look forward to my next lesson.