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More Than One Way to Bowl a Strike

My husband and my middle son are in a bowling league that meets on Monday nights. After several weeks of pause, they have been able to resume. But, since my husband had a prior commitment last night, I accompanied my son to the league.

In the days prior, my son and I discussed the differences between how he bowls and how his oldest brother bowls. They have been in bowling leagues since they were in the elementary grades, and they were on our local high school’s bowling team. We are no strangers to bowling, yet we analyzed where to stand and how to adjust to oil patterns. I know from my years watching my sons and their teammates that there are reasons for using one bowling ball over another based on whether the ball needs to curve or not. Often I can tell if they will get strikes based on how the ball leaves their hands.

But, I became curious about something the more as my son and I chatted. So, I brought a notebook with me to the league and observed the other bowlers.

It didn’t take more than watching them during warm-ups for me to conclude that there is more than one way to bowl a strike. One right-handed bowler kept his arm closer to his body, twisted his hand back, and released the ball to rotate down the lane. Another right-handed bowler kept his arm straight, locked at the elbow, and parallel to his hip before swinging through his shot. Then a left-handed bowler approached. I noticed he had his hand turned toward his body before releasing it into a spin. Next a right-handed bowler stood up straight, released the ball, and lifted his right leg at the end of his shot. The last right-handed bowler I observed maintained a straight arm, but twisted his hand at the release. (Normally, there would have been six bowlers with three on a team, but my husband wasn’t there. Just a hunch, but I think he’s relieved he missed my scrutiny of his bowling skills.) All of these men of various heights, weights, and ages bowled at least one strike if not several in a row (the left-handed bowler threw six strikes in succession) throughout the course of the three games. While there were moments of having to adjust to the changing oil patterns, one thing became obvious, and it was something that my sons’ coaches repeated often when they bowled in high school.

Consistency.

The most strikes happened when the bowler threw with a consistent form, rhythm, and speed.

It sounds so simple. But, ask any bowler and he or she will tell you that there are reasons why those who bowl a 300 receive a ring and have their names on banners hung above the lanes. Not many achieve this goal. Even maintaining an average over 200 takes practice to be consistent.

Similar to consistency in bowling, consistency in living life can be difficult to maintain. There is more than one way to get tasks done whether it’s writing computer code or doing the laundry. Even then, something can happen to disrupt the day–waking up late, a headache, spam calls about an expired car warranty, health concerns, social interactions, social isolation, spilled milk–that throws off our consistency. The reminder is to understand we all make mistakes and miss our intended target. The goal is to adjust to the ever-changing pattern and regain the consistency achieved through patient practice.

There is a verse I have held firm to most of my life. It is one I repeat whenever life throws me a curve or I find myself missing my mark. It is most consistent way I know to live life although doing so may look vastly different depending on individuals and making adjustments based on current conditions. When I release myself to the truth of these words, I know I am practicing my most consistent life.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

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