Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Evaluating my game

Now that I have my gear lined up, it's time to evaluate where my game stands currently.

After 10 years without any coaching I'm sure I've picked up more than a few bad habits. I may be able to identify some using a video camera but ultimately I'm going to need some help. Sometime very soon, I'm going to have to find a coach.

Until then, I think there are some things that I can do to evaluate/improve my game without a coach. I worked for a company that did quality improvement studies for years. Unfortunately, I wasn't a statistician or analyst for them but I still picked up on the key concepts.

1) Decide what you want to improve - for bowling it would obviously be average score.
2) Identify key quality indicators - an example for bowling could be strike percentage.
3) Make a baseline measurement of the indicators.
4) Make a change that you believe will improve one or more of your indicators.
5) Measure again.
6) Repeat steps 4 and 5

Using a system like this has the advantage of leading you towards making decisions based on numbers and data rather than basing them on emotions. For example, it may feel like you're scoring low because you aren't throwing enough strikes. However, if you're leaving 3 open frames per game, there may be more points to gain by improving your spare game.

I'm not sure what indicators I'm going to use yet but single pin spare conversion percentage will probably be one. Strike percentage may be another. Regardless of what indicators I choose, I'll need to collect data. To that end, I created this score sheet that I take out bowling with me. I keep a bunch of these in a three ring binder. After I've collected data for a bunch of games, I'm going to start doing analysis of that data.

Here's how I intend to use the sheet:

For each game, I fill out the top section just like a normal score sheet. I use the next row of boxes to signify whether I had a bad release, missed my mark, or had a problem with my approach. I'm not sure how I'll use this yet but I figure it might be handy for trying to separate the physical game from the mental game. On the pin diagram I fill in the pins that I leave when I don't get a strike. This way I can see which spares I'm missing and focus on those during practice.

Finally, I have a notes section so I can write a little bit about the situation I was bowling in for future reference. I may note how oily the lanes were, what mark I was using for my strike ball, which ball I was throwing, etc.

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