Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Rocky Start

My new bowling league began last night. I've never bowled in a league like it before. We bowl three games of doubles and three games of singles each night. The doubles teams were created by the bowlers with the lowest entering averages choosing their partner from the league roster. The person with the lowest entering average chose first, then the person with the second lowest average, and so on. Usually, each person chose the person with the highest entering average who had not already been chosen. The person who chose me is acknowledged to be one of the finest bowling coaches in the country.

I wanted to perform well not only because she's my teammate who chose me because she had faith in me, but also because she's such a great coach. I wanted to impress her discerning eye with my skills. Of course, I bowled terribly, and the other team beat us soundly. I didn't just score poorly. I executed even worse. I felt almost like a wobbly beginner, sometimes missing my target by feet rather than inches, and awkwardly bouncing the ball on the lane instead of rolling it smoothly like someone who knows what he's doing.

Of course, I don't know what I'm doing. I never have really. And that's why I've been bowling for forty years and am so mediocre. Because of my inability to understand the biomechanical principles behind good and bad bowling, I depend almost entirely on "feel" or "touch." If I'm bowling poorly, I have to just bowl my way out of it with sheer willpower, repetition, and haphazard trial-and-error adjustments rather than think my way out of my difficulties. Yes, I now have a superb coach to give me pointers if I ask for them. But what good are pointers if one doesn't understand them well enough to apply them and doesn't want to seem either stupid or as though he's stubbornly ignoring the pointers if he fails to apply them?

The best answer I can come up with is that I need to explain to my teammate that I have trouble understanding biomechanical principles and following instructions, but that if I ask her for advice when I'm struggling, I'll do my best to understand and apply it, because I want to do my very best for her as well as myself. I need to overcome my fear of revealing my cognitive weaknesses to others (and one of my purposes in writing so much about them here on this blog is to accomplish exactly that) and do my best to overcome or circumvent them with all the expert help I can get. And now I have an opportunity to receive some of the most expert bowling help I could ever wish for without having to pay a penny extra for it. I can pay simply by doing my darndest to use it to help myself and my teammate to win.

Even without her help, I managed to excecute and score significantly better the second set of three games and beat my able opponent three points to one. But that was singles competetion that benefitted only me and not my doubles partner. Next week, I hope I can do better for her as well as for myself, with or without her help.


Jess said...

Have you thought about videotaping your bowling and then have someone try to show you what you might be doing wrong? They could record themselves doing the incorrect movement and then show the correct one. That way you would have something you could see and copy. Just my .02 for all that it's worth.

Nagarjuna said...

Jess, no I had never considered doing anything like what you suggest, but I'm definitely considering it now. Thanks.