Garza: Video Games Will Make you a Better Bowler

Video games are taking over the world by the day, and thanks to the heinous coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, they are also playing heroes to not only our time spent during the day, but also our muscle memory. 

Games such as Wii Bowling (a part of the Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort bundles) and PBA Bowling Challenge, or even Bowling by Jason Belmonte, feature some of the best bowling physics around in a video game. 

A casual person might see a bowling game as an opportunity to throw the ball as fast as they can and hope to kill the pins (I work at five different centers and see people of ALL ages asking for six-pound bowling balls hoping to achieve this). Guess what? You’re just going to leave splits all day if you don’t know what you’re doing! 

Thus, here’s what you can do: go to YouTube and learn how to throw the ball. Then research how to strike, and learn a spare targeting system. Then repeat over and over again. I mean, what else are you doing during this period of boredom and panic? They say that now is the time to take up a hobby you might not have had before, or really solidify a skill and master it. 

Ever watch the movie Hoosiers? Gene Hackman doesn’t even let his team touch a basketball for weeks, focusing instead on fundamentals, ingraining the “little things” into his players’ heads.

The same goes for bowling. The more you know about your bowling game on the lanes, the better off you’ll score, react and in the long run, win. 

Every day you’re hearing of a new story emanating from the professional ranks of baseball, basketball, football, soccer and many other sports, and how athletes have video games to thank for training their mentality while on the field. Baseball gamers have MLB: The Show; basketballers rely on NBA 2K, while EA Sports has blessed football players with Madden and soccer players with FIFA. 

One of my favorite modes in each of these games is a career mode. I was a former football and basketball player back in the day, playing left guard and nose tackle on the gridiron, and center on the courts. But my video games back in the 90s could hardly train me to excel at those games. Not true anymore. Look at the graphics and the physics! Wow! 

I got into bowling at 9 years old, joining the junior league at Del Rio Lanes in Downey, and I was instantly hooked. I looked forward to bowling my Saturday league all week. The only way I could play a video game back then was to purchase a Super Nintendo I didn’t have and play Brunswick World Tournament of Champions on the SNES. But my parents weren’t about to shell out $59.99 plus tax for the game, and definitely not the $299.99 plus tax for the console, especially when league fees cost just around $10/week. They wanted me to go outside and play “like a normal kid.” 

Well, times are different, and I haven’t competed in any of my three leagues in about three weeks now, and I miss bowling. Well the physical aspect of it. That’s because video games keep my brain sharp. 

That might sound silly to the majority of readers, but hear me out. 

Wii Bowling might not have the aspect of a sport pattern or reactive ball, but it does offer a bowler the opportunity to hook the ball, or throw it straight. To even throw at and convert some of the dreaded spares we know and hate so much.

Here’s a thought. Hate the 10 pin? Keep practicing on Wii Bowling and see which board you have to roll the ball over to convert it. Pro tip: move left! I don’t know how many times I watch people try throwing at a 10 pin while standing on the 10 board. How about standing 35? Roll it up 20 and see what happens. But watch what your ball does en route to converting that pesky pin. Remember that, and take it to the lanes. 

PBA Bowling Challenge (also known as PBA Pro Challenge) is available on Android, iOS, Playstation 4, XBOX 1 and Nintendo Switch, and lets you bowl on house shot or sport patterns. Play with the blue oil on, and practice throwing into different spots of that oil. Learn to read the lane, and throw, throw, throw. Guess how much extra games cost you? Nothing! Just the $19.99 to purchase it on any of the consoles. You can unlock lots of fun balls in the game, which act just as balls in real life, with different components added to the game. 

Just like Wii Bowling you can practice that spare line, or split conversions, or whatever it is you want. But the beauty of this game is to learn how to read lanes through a video game. 

Bowling by Jason Belmonte gets the most in-depth of the three games, allowing bowlers to customize the layouts of their ball throw statistics assigned to each ball. This helps you to learn what you want going into your arsenal. Are you looking for something to go a little further down the lane? The game could do that for you. Want it to snap early? Fine. As you play you build up reputation points and develop more speed and revs, and eventually can unlock the “pro mode” a two-handed approach, just like Belmo, himself. 

I’ve seen many people on social media taking up these games to pass by the time. I say follow along with them. Set up an online tournament and post your scores. Have fun with it! I promise you it won’t hurt your game when we return to league in the near future. 

Until then, have a great and productive day, and don’t forget to live up to your fullest potential! See you soon. 

This story was originally published in the April 9, 2020 issue of The California Bowling News. 

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