Bowling a 289

Apparently I needed to take a break from bowling. A bowled quite a bit in leagues from 2002-2004. I improved a lot over that time too. I think when I took up bowling as a hobby, I was averaging about 125. When I bowled my last league game in 2004, my average was about 185. Not bad at all. The best game I'd ever bowled was a 279, and it was at an old center in Mechanicsburg, PA, where I think the pins were so old the edges had totally worn away. It wasn't a league game either, so there was no pressure. I'm not sure what my high league game was prior to Monday's, but it was probably something like 245. I don't think I ever broke 250 in league play before.

Since my last league game in 2004, I easily bowled less than 20 games. I am an alternate on the AOL bowling league, and Monday was the 3rd night I'd participated, or just 6 league games played prior to that night. My second game of the night started off pretty good. But even after my fourth strike, I thought, my groove would end soon. After the sixth strike is when I first started feeling that adrenaline rush. I started taking long walks up down the bowling center between my turns so as to expel some of those adrenaline jitters.

Even if people from other lanes were beginning to notice, I wasn't aware of it yet. My seventh and eighth strikes were pretty easy, as I was managing to stay relatively calm. I'd focus very well and shut out everything other than what I needed to do. On the ninth frame, I noticed that other people were watching me from afar, but they were still sort of pretending that they weren't noticing, and I managed to pull out another strike.

My heart was pounding while I was waiting for the tenth frame. I kept walking though, and tried to settle down. When it was my turn, my surroundings still looked about the same. I went through the same routine; although I probably spent a little additional time breathing and clearing my mind. Strike! Yes, I can do this. I turn around.... Where did all of these people come from??? There was a decent crowd behind my lane now watching to see if I could do it. And I have to bowl again, it is still my turn, and I don't get to go for a walk (although in retrospect I'm sure I could have). I did my best to focus after that, but I couldn't... I choked. My eleventh ball left a single pin, which I did pick up with my twelfth. It was quite a rush. So now I'm just 11 points... or two rolls away from a perfect game.

Mom would have been proud.

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I also bowled a 289
Ryan, Exactly 1 year and 1 day after your 289, I bowled a 289 on March 20, 2008. My normal ball was at the shop getting resurfaced so I had to use an old ball last night. It took me the first two games to get comfortable with the old ball but started stringing in the 3rd game. After hitting the first 5, a member of the other team informed me that I could throw a 300 if I kept striking. My first reaction was to think to myself, “Why do people always have to mess with people when they are having a great game.”. I was letting it get to me but soon set it straight in my mind that if I am ever going to throw a 300, I would have to overcome these type of distractions. In the long run, I think it helped me focus on what I needed to do. (After the game, he informed me that he does that early in the game so as to calm and relax the bowler, kind of taking their mind off of what they are about to do. I thanked him.) I had been fairly calm even after the 7 pin fell slow on the 6th strike getting tripped out by the 6 pin. The 7th strike started my heart beat to increase, but managed to calm it down before throwing the 8th strike. Again, my heart beat elevated. I found it very beneficial to joke around with our team and the other team. Now, our house has lanes on 2 sides of the bowling alley with 2 different leagues. A guy from the other league had thrown a 300 just minutes before I was on a role. Due to lane issues in the second game, we were the last team finishing up our third game. The guy shows up at behind my lane to watch me. All I could think about was wishing he would leave. I get up and throw the 9th. I took the approach of keeping everything as normal as possible by sitting down like I normally do. Again, I had to slow my heart rate down. Luckily, the guy left after I threw the 9th. So, now we are in the 10th and I am focused on doing what I need to do. Just me on the lane an no one else in the entire place was bowling. (It was quite empty as they had finished their league play and had gone home.) I throw the 10th strike and the few people standing there were cheering and clapping. I don’t remember seeing any one, just hearing them. Now for the 11th shot. My legs started shacking a bit but I was able to get relaxed. I threw a great shot and it felt great coming off my hand. It hit almost perfect leaving the 4 pin. My first thought was, oh well, guess I do it another time. Next I thought, man I need to pick up the 4 pin and then throw another strike. I grab my ball get lined up and let it go. It connects. I go back to pick up my ball and I looked at the score board. That is when I see the 289. My mind was so zoned I didn’t realize that I had no more shots to throw. What a memory!! James, March 21, 2008 08:38