The "Bear" Necessities - First Time on PBA Bear

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Last night I had my first exposure to the PBA Bear pattern in the pattern league I am bowling in this summer. Let's start by thanking the powers that be for making this the first pattern of the that reduced the 220-230 house bowler to shooting under 600 in a four game set, and to what I could only imagine as Aslan's delight, the two handed bowlers missing the head pin in all ways imaginable.

First I will discuss my initial game plan for this pattern. The pattern itself is a flat 40 foot pattern that I have heard as the hardest thing you will likely see (granted reverse blocks are probably more evil). With this in mind my plan was to keep the shot as simple as possible and try to steal a double here and there; our league structure is a scratch match play so I wasn't bowling to score high as much as to post 180-185 per game and tell my opponent "good luck". I came in with the notion of throwing a Freeze Hybrid up 10, expecting to leave plenty of spares because the ball roll wouldn't be the best, but I wouldn't have to move or play a difficult angle. The other reason why I thought this would be good is that we were bowling on AMF synthetics so I knew there would be a little more friction than at the Brunswick houses.

Game 1 - 150: As you can imagine from the score, my strategy of keep the pattern simple and throw weak equipment really worked out for me (shakes head). The game started ok, but the four frame stretch of 2 8-10's, a 4-6-10, and a 2-10 (all opens) let me know that the Freeze Hybrid was going to be too fidgety on the back ends. This comes to my first point of this pattern, early on you MUST focus more on controlling the backend of the pattern. I switched to my Hyper Cell and moved in 10 boards with the feet maintaining the same breakpoint. This allowed me to do some damage control and grind out the 150. On the last ball of the game I moved back outside (breakpoint at 8-9) with the Hyper Cell and used a weaker hand position...this is what I should of done the entire time. This brings me to the second thing that should be done on challenging patterns; on fill shots in games that are not your final game or close enough that a pin or two could win or lose the game, you should throw an experiment shot in which you try to see what happens with a different ball or different line. I would argue that this can also be done on frame 1 of a game, something I will do at a later time. Essentially this "experiment" shot can give you information that you can use if the lanes drastically change; and you would prefer to use your fill ball for one of these shots rather than the fifth frame of the next game.

Game 2 - 230: Not much explanation needed here, the Hyper Cell with a breakpoint of 8-9 with a small bump (laydown point around 17) and a weak hand position. The center uses the Kegel ice oil so the oil was holding up well and with two 2-handed bowlers, 2 others facing consistency issues, and the last bowler playing a line on another planet from me the only concern was watching my backend reaction, the heads stayed clean.

Game 3 - 180: This is when I began focusing more of how my ball was clearing the heads. Started to have inconsistency on the backend so I switched to a Reign Supreme that is at 2000-2500 thinking that the symmetrical core would solve the problem...well at least the ball still smells like lava spice because one shot told me it wasn't the answer (as well as letting me know the heads had finally lost enough oil that I needed something to push through). Switched to the IQ Fusion and tried to play on top of the line used by the Hyper Cell, it took some time but I made sure to bowl cautiously (in the sense of my adjustments) and found a line by the end of the game.

Game 4 - 245: Finally found a place with the IQ Fusion, same breakpoint as before but left of the laydown point used for the Hyper Cell. Essentially the lanes got to the point where clearing the heads had to be the focus point...the lane was not broken down very well (with 6 bowlers and 4 games there is a great potential to open up the pattern). With an difficult condition that is not broken down correctly I go back to the "don't give up the pocket" mentality. Fortunately, I was able to kick out some single pins and scored well.

What I realized from the night is that controlling the backend is a must, you really want to avoid something that is going to jump off the end of the pattern. Oh, and for at least one week I can say I was within 20 some pins of Josh Blanchard who I think shot 827 this week.

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