By Rick Wiltse, Coach at the Kegel Training Center
In the history of bowling there have been many methods to allow bowlers to accurately roll a bowling ball from one point to another on a bowling lane. Probably the most common and easily recognizable target system has been the seven “arrows” that are placed between 12 and 15 feet past the foul line on most every lane in bowling. More specifically, the 2nd arrow on either side of the lane has become the most famous target for bowlers. In addition, bowlers have used pin bowling, spot bowling, area bowling, visualizing the ball path and breakpoint targeting.
All these targeting methods have been used with some measure of success, but none of these systems compare to the immediate improvement in accuracy and consistency that has been documented by using 3 Point Targeting and Quiet Eye.
At the Kegel Training Center, the coaching staff has been teaching this very effective targeting system called 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye (3PTQE). Although our research has proven that this system produces dramatic improvement almost immediately, it also has raised more questions by bowlers than any other area of bowling in my experience as a Kegel coach. In this article we will explore 7 Easy Steps to Understanding 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye and we will then answer some of the most common questions asked by our students at the Kegel Training Center. This process will hopefully give you a much better understanding of 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye which, in my opinion, is close to being a “magic bullet” in bowling.
Step 1 – How Long is the Oil Pattern - Find out the length of the oil pattern on the lanes where you will be bowling. This can be done by reading a program sheet or lane graph. You can also consult your local laneman or the center staff who may be able to tell you pattern length. If none of these methods work, you can roll a few slow speed practice shots and make an educated guess as to where the oil ends and the dry lane begins based on the hooking action of your ball.
Step 2 – The Formula PL Minus 31 - Take pattern length (PL) number and subtract 31. The result of this subtraction will give you the desired location of your bowling ball at the end of the oil on the pattern. For example, if the pattern length (PL) is 43, subtract 31 from 43 and the result will be 12. Board 12 (at 43 feet) is where your bowling ball should be to gain the most margin of error for this lane pattern.
Step 3 – The Focal Point - Look at board 12 at 43 feet down lane and draw a straight line to the pins. Pick out a part of the pin that most closely matches up with the line from board 12. Each pin will have 5 locations that may match the line.
1. Inside edge
3. Outside edge
4. Inside base
5. Outside base
The pin location you selected for the 43 foot pattern should be the outside edge of the 3 pin (board 12) and this will be called your “Focal Point”.
Step 4 – The Visual Target - Now trace back from the outside edge of the 3 pin location along the line to board 12 and extend this line back to a visual target of your choice such as the arrows or dots. This location will be called your “Visual Target”.
Step 5 – Locate Your Starting Point on the Approach - Step up on the approach and align your body with the Focal Point and Visual Target by placing the inside edge of your slide foot 6 boards from the 12 board. In this example, that would place the inside of your slide foot on board 18. Now your body is properly positioned to swing the ball and roll it down board 12 toward the outside edge of the 3 pin. Achieving this trajectory will give you the most margin for error and the greatest chance to strike even if you miss your target on one side or the other.
Step 6 – Quiet Eye - Combine this targeting system with what we call “quiet eye”. To implement “quiet eye” simply focus on the “Focal Point” which in this case is the outside edge of the 3 pin for two full seconds – count in your mind 1001 – 1002. Then move your eyes smoothly from the focal point pin to the Visual Target at the arrows or dots. Again, focus on the Visual Target for two full seconds – a count of 1001 – 1002. Then take a breath, exhale and execute your delivery keeping your eyes on the Visual Target throughout your approach.
Step 7 – Drift and Shift - Note the position of your slide foot at the foul line and determine if you have any “Drift”. If so, adjust your starting position (based on the amount of drift) so that you will be sliding on the appropriate board at the foul line. In our example, you want to slide on board 18. If your drift causes you to slide 2 boards to the left (board 20), you will need to adjust your starting position on the approach 2 boards to the right (board 16) to compensate for your drift and slide on board 18. Finally, if you roll the ball down the intended target line and you don’t hit the pocket, you will need to make an adjustment or “Shift” such as a 2 and 1 move (2 boards with your feet and 1 board with your eyes) to hit the pocket. Continue to adjust as oil depletion occurs on the lane and your ball motion changes.
The Example below shows three focal points for short, medium, or long lane patterns, for both right and left-hand bowlers. Right-hand bowlers would focus on some part of the 10-pin for short patterns, a part of the 6-pin for medium patterns, or a part of the 3-pin for longer patterns. Left-hand bowlers would use the 7-pin, 4-pin, or 2-pin respectively.
Answering Questions About 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye
Question: Most students, who come to the Kegel Training Center, enter with a strong desire to get better and a willingness to try almost anything to improve their game. The exception to this willingness to try new techniques seems to appear most often when we ask a student to try a new targeting system. The comment is often heard, “But I’ve always used the 2nd arrow as my primary target”. The implied question is “Why should I change?”
Answer: The response to this question is simple. If you use a single point as a target such as the 2nd arrow, it is possible to roll a bowling ball across that target at an infinite number of angles – each time hitting the 2nd arrow, but each time the angle of the ball path will be different. In order to obtain consistency, two points are needed to create a straight line and a ball path with a single angle of travel. Thus, the use of at least two points for targeting increases accuracy and consistency to a degree well beyond the scattered outcomes of using a single point target.
Question: The 3 Point Targeting System begins with a simple mathematical calculation that we have termed pattern length minus 31 (PL – 31). For some bowlers who are feel players or who just don’t feel comfortable with math, this beginning calculation can be a roadblock to going further. The question for these bowlers becomes, “Why do I have to solve a math problem to bowl?”
Answer: The incentive to find out the lane pattern length by asking your local laneman or center staff or by consulting a program sheet is that by doing this simple subtraction problem you will gain the most margin for error. This means that every time you use this simple formula you will be able to miss your target left or right by the largest margin possible and still have a chance to hit the pocket and strike – not a bad incentive to go back to math class!
Question: The next question that we often hear is “How does PL-31 give me the most margin for error?”
Answer: If you examine the lane graph shown above you can see that outside board 12 there is a lower volume of oil on the lane. This means that if you miss your target to the outside, the ball will encounter less oil (more friction) and it will hook back toward the pocket.
The lane graph also shows that inside board 12 there is a larger volume of oil, thus if you miss your target to the inside, the ball will encounter more oil (less friction) and it will tend to “hold” its position and stay close to the pocket. In this way, the PL-31 formula insures that you have the most margin to miss your target and still hit the pocket and strike.
Question: So now let’s say that you’ve made it past PL-31. For example, you found out from the front desk staff that the house pattern is 40 feet long. You take the number 40 (which represents PL) and you correctly subtract 31. The result is 9. The next question is, “Now what do I do with this number 9?”
Answer: The number 9 represents the board on the lane that the ball should be on at the end of the 40 foot oil pattern in order to gain the most margin of error. Look down the lane to board 9 at approximately 40 feet keeping in mind that the lane is 60 feet long from the foul line to the head pin. From this point on board 9, draw an imaginary line to the pins and pick out part of a pin that corresponds to the imaginary line. In this case it will be the center of the 6 pin.
Then move your eyes smoothly back from the center of the 6 pin and a corresponding visual target of your choice (i.e. at the arrows; at the dots or at the foul line). This will allow you to select a starting position on the approach and to have two points of reference to guide your swing along the correct ball path to get the most margin of error.
In summary, 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye offers an effective method to increase your accuracy and consistency. Using the seven steps above, you should be able to obtain a clear understanding of how to practice this technique which will help take your game to the next level. For more information or to schedule a lesson, please contact the Kegel Training Center at: US Toll Free (800) 280-2695 or International +1 (863) 734 0200.