Spare shooting & adjusments!

When a lane begins to break down, is it more advantageous to make adjustments with your starting position, angle, or release, or is it better to ball change? - Dalen Demary Mesa, AZ

Josh Blanchard - Dalen this is a great topic to bring up for the average league bowler. While I wish there was one specific answer to give you, this answer really depends on the player and their comfort level and physical abilities. You named four possible changes that a player could choose and this is the tip of the iceberg in possible adjustments. 
  The first thing I would suggest is find what you are GREAT at, than start with that. If you are great at moving your feet and playing different angles than that should be your adjustment when the lanes break down. If you are great at speed adjustments, than do that when lanes break down. If you are not good at any of those, than you should be changing balls when you split. Not all of us have 30+ hours in a week to practice and be good at them all so don’t lie to yourself. Find which adjustment you are good at and start with that and if that doesn’t work than go to your B) adjustment and work down the ladder. 

Craig Spencer - This really depends on the bowler, and the conditions you are bowling on and exactly what you are seeing on the lanes. This question is really where all of the new skill in bowling is at. 30 years ago, it was more like horse shoes, where the main goal was just repetition. While shot making is still important, what adjustments to make is really where all tournaments and leagues are won and lost. Most league bowlers will really only be good at 1 of the three options you mentioned. I think it's best to master one of these than to try to be a jack of all trades. Even high level players don't necessarily do all of these things. With today's large variety of equipment and performance options, it's not necessary to know how to do all of these kinds of adjustments. Whether it's speed, release or starting position find the thing you are most comfortable and consistent at changing and only change that. My final answer would be have one physical adjustment you like to make and than combine that with changing balls as need be. The ability to know when to change balls is paramount in today's game. 

Converting spares on a tough oil pattern can be a challenge, how can one prepare or practice for such an occasion? - Timothy Satomba Phoenix, AZ

Josh Blanchard - Tim you highlighted a topic I wanted to speak about after watching Jr Gold in Dallas last month where 3,500 youth bowlers hit the lanes and I saw 10,000 easy spares missed. Spares should be the foundation of your game, no matter how rocky the terrain gets, you can rely on your foundation to bring you home. Think of spares as the footings of your house, do you want footings that could move in wind, rain, hail, a hurricane or any other possible natural occurrence? 
   We all get insurance on our house if we live in these areas but guess what, that insurance gives us peace of mind and comfort when we sleep to know we are COVERED. So if you like the comfort of being COVERED, I would strongly suggest shooting a majority of your spares straight or with a plastic ball to eliminate the oil pattern all together. Just like your home footings, you want it to hold up no matter what it comes your way! 

 
Craig Spencer - Plastic ball! Final answer! I can't emphasis this enough! Take the time to get used to throwing a plastic ball and also trying to minimize the rotation you use when throwing it. Because so many people get used to hooking at their spares, when they get a plastic ball, they miss them all to the right (for right handers), get frustrated and go back to hooking at them. If you plan on bowling on any sport patterns you will get severely punished for not getting used to throwing plastic. Also try to get used to shooting your spares the same regardless of the lane condition. This makes it where the "occasion" doesn't change what you do. Not only will your spare conversion percentage go up, but you will also now be able to focus all of your mind, body and thoughts on your strike ball. You won't have to deal with the anxiety or decision making that comes with hooking at your spares on a sport pattern. Buy a plastic ball and commit to getting used to it. Once you learn it, you will immediately become a much more consistent player.