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How to deal with an early-season bowling slump

By Barnie Haen
Advocate columnist

Help! I'm in an early-season slump and I can't get out!

I've had bowling seasons in which I've had slow starts, but it's always been the result of working out the various aches and pains related to doing something my body has forgotten how to do over the summer.

This year, I busted out of the gate with a 663 series on opening night, and it's been downhill ever since.

In hopes of figuring out an escape from my predicament, here are a few things I've considered. Maybe one or more of them will be of use to you, as well, if you've been struggling on league night.

I probably haven't been getting enough sleep lately, especially now that I have a new job with early morning hours. Maybe an afternoon nap on league night will help. When I'm tired, it takes more effort to keep my ball speed up. Weak legs leave me too close to the floor at delivery, meaning that my ball doesn't get out far enough over the foul line. Plus, it's harder to maintain mental command through three games.

I need to arrive at the bowling alley early on league night to throw as many practice balls as possible. It will not only get me loose, I'll also have the chance to dial in my muscle memory on all the changes I've been making to my delivery. If I make a big change, I should consider (gasp!) showing up at the lanes on a different day for a practice session or two.

I always need to remember to go back to the basics. Square my shoulders. Stand up straight to get the ball out on the lane. Keep my balance. Keep my speed up. Keep my hand behind the ball. Follow through.

I need to concentrate. After I pick up my ball and before I step up onto the approach, it seems to help when I take a second or two to visualize the perfect shot. I have a difficult time eliminating distractions from my head — even for the few seconds it takes to throw my ball. I need to watch the entire shot to see if I hit my mark and how the ball reacted to where (and how) I threw it.

Finally, I need to ask my teammates for a second opinion. It doesn't matter how well versed they may be in bowling mechanics; they know whether I'm doing something different than I have before.

There. Nothing to it.

Checking the oil

I've taken tapes at both Apple Valley Lanes and the Sister Bay Bowl that reveal how much oil is on the lanes and how it's distributed.

When I get the results back from the United States Bowling Congress, I'll spend an upcoming column or two explaining how to read the graphs and suggesting ways in which you might benefit from knowing the oil pattern.

Tourney dates announced

Don't forget to save the dates for the Door County USBC Association Tournament.

Singles and doubles will be at Apple Valley Lanes on Jan. 16 and 23. The Sister Bay Bowl will host the team event on Feb. 21 and 28.

In another change from previous years, the team event will consist of three-person teams.

Sponsors are still being sought for the tournament and a rebate on entry fees is available to bowlers registering and submitting payment by a certain date.

Cuculi rolls another 300

Usually a perfect game gets top billing in my column, but Mike Cuculi has been so hot lately that we hardly blink an eye any more when he shoots a big score.

After rolling a 300 game and an association record 814 series in September, and an 803 a couple of weekends ago in the Apple Valley Lanes One Day Tournament, Cuculi started his night out last Wednesday in the Washout League with another 300, followed by a 258 second game.

Cuculi seemed well on his way to moving the series record up another notch with six strikes in the first seven frames of his final game, but the strikes turned to spares over the last few balls and he was forced to settle for a 794.

John Heimbecher's 771 (268 game) was a heck of a series to end up second, with Matt Heldmann at 718, and Torry Lake posting a 268 game.

Lake had topped the Majors the previous evening with a 719 series, sharing high-game honors at 255 with Rick Davis. Cubby Hartl's 683 took runner-up status.

Scott LaLuzerne led the Industrial with a 663 and Fred Miller topped the Senior Men with 580. Miller also crashed a big 678 (236) in the Goodtimers, where Eileen Lardinois led the women with 522 (184).

Shirley DeFere was the best of the Women's Masters with a 517 (200).

Bill Kroll's 621 snuck by Mike Schumacher's 617 in the Bay Couples, although the high game of 248 went to Brian Schram. Tina Schram shot 513, while Margie Ford rolled a 197 game.

In the Adult/Youth league, Matt LeMieux topped the men, 612 (225); Alisa Hutton the women, 488 (179); Danny Jacobe the boys, 439 (185); and Casey Hutton the girls, 461 (162).

Barnie Haen is an Advocate bowling columnist. He can be reached at (920) 559-6417 or

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