"What is the most significant disparity seen between the amateur and professional levels?" - Dylan Taylor Scottsdale, AZ
Josh Blanchard -The biggest disparity between the two is mental. On a professional level, the bowler trusts their game and equipment more than an amateur bowler. Decisions are made quicker and more confident shots are made from frame to frame by the professional. Where on the amateur level, the bowler tends to stay with the wrong ball too long and tend to be 15-30 pins a game behind a professional.
Craig Spencer - The difference is definitely between the ears. For one, most professional athletes have complete control over the minds during competition. Their minds aren't wandering to other things, or wandering to the negative. Secondly, they have full control over it, they use it to think positively, visualize and focus. You occasional see some pros lose their cool after a shot, in the same way that many amateurs might, but the difference is that many pros have the ability to get back into the zone on the very next shot, because they have complete control over their minds when they need to.
"How has the new equipment helped or hurt the sport of bowling?"- Roger Buckley Mesa, AZ
Josh Blanchard - Technology in bowling bowling balls have advanced more in the past 10 years than it did in the previous 100 years. Bowling ball companies have figured out a way for bowling balls to adsorb more oil and hook more in today's environment than ever before. It has helped the average bowler develop a hook on their ball and create more pin carry with a wider variety of pocket hits than ever before. This has lead to higher scores and more instant gratification from bowlers. The downside to technology has been the lack of physical practice and precision needed to become a better bowler. Technology has allowed someone to miss by a wider margin to become successful.
Craig Spencer - The bowling balls have helped the sport of bowling. I say this because I don't think they are the main problem in regards to scoring, but the variety that has been offered has kept the sport alive. With the number of players that compete now, if they only needed one ball for years on end, the industry would take a huge hit. The countless bowling ball options have kept consumers engaged with a sport that offers less challenge then before. Let me explain why I don't think they impact scoring as much as people think they do.
If bowling balls are the largest contributing factor to the scoring epidemic then shouldn't the PBA Plastic Ball challenge be the lowest scoring event the PBA runs? It wasn't. There have been many PBA events that have allowed today's modern bowling balls that have had lower scoring paces than the plastic ball event. In my opinion, that small amount of data in itself, tells you that the ball is a factor, but isn't the largest contributing one to the scoring issue.
Let's talk golf. The clubs have advanced just like our bowling balls right? Has golf gotten easier for the recreational player? Sure it has. Has it gotten as easy to be a scratch golfer as it is to be a scratch bowler? Definitely not. Why hasn't their equipment advancements impacted the integrity of their sport as much as it has ours?
Well, if the clubs hit it straighter and further, they make the old par 5's, par 4's, and force the players to shape their shot more. Simply, make the course more difficult. In the end, that is the what all equipment is used on, the course. So the course is the ultimate contributor to scoring. Taking this back to bowling, I am certain that centers would use the extremely advanced lane machines to find a perfect pattern for the plastic balls to score well on. Would it be as high as the scores are now? No, but it wouldn't be as low as people expect. I'd guess about a 10-15 pin drop in league averages, but at a cost of completely redefining what a legal bowling ball is. That isn't a big enough change in scoring to justify everyone's equipment becoming illegal and forcing them to buy new balls.
On the other hand, you do what golf has done, you make the course harder and don't worry so much about the equipment. You force higher averaged leagues to bowl on harder conditions. I have seen players drop 20-50 pins when bowling on sport patterns, and it would have a minimal cost. It's as simple as hitting a different button on the lane machine. This takes all of the dynamics in a bowling ball and makes it just as much of a liability as an asset. Players have to consider; "Am I using the right ball?", "Is it the right layout?" "Is it the right surface?", "Am I in the right part of the lane?".. all the new cerebral parts of the game would go away if we regress to the old bowling balls.