A little help from your friends can go a long way toward making you a better bowler. Just ask Pam Jones.
"They didn't try to make me over in their style," Jones said. "They took my style and incorporated it with sound technique."
"They" are three of Jones' teammates in the Brunswick Normandy Thursday Mixed League: Jerry Sieglein, Dean Krebs and Tyrone Watts.
Each of the three are better-than-average bowlers. More important each has the ability to teach the sport. Sieglein and Krebs operate the Reisterstown Pro Shop and are able to keep up with the newest equipment that is available.
In an age where there are more than 450 types of bowling balls on the market knowing what new balls are available and what they will accomplish on the lanes is one of the most important aspects of the sport.
Jones started bowling almost by accident.
"My sister-in-law, Agnes King, needed to fill a spot on her team and asked me to try the game," Jones said. "I wasn't real sure that I wanted to do that. I'd heard all the stories about bowling alleys and I was very reluctant."
Until she tried the game and fell in love with it.
"I was hooked after the first night," Jones laughed. "I couldn't believe that even the opposing team would try to help me learn the game and would actually cheer when I did something right."
That first session three years ago saw Jones average "about 130." She finished her first season with a 146 average.
"I used a house ball at first," Jones said. "But the second year I bought a plastic bowling ball and had a conventional grip drilled."
And her average for the second year climbed to 160.
It was last season, the third year of competition for Jones, that her game changed dramatically.
"Now I was bowling with Jerry and Dean and Tyrone, and those guys are good," Jones said. "They began to help me, both my style and with my equipment."
That change of equipment was to a urethane bowling ball with a fingertip grip; the other change was away from her straight-ball delivery to one with hook.
"Oh, goodness, trying to throw a fingertip grip ball was horrible," she said. "I was still throwing at the speed of sound and the ball didn't have time to react properly."
Next, Jones added three more leagues to her schedule at Fair Lanes Woodlawn, Timonium and Fort Meade. And started to get instruction in the sport of bowling. Her average climbed and climbed.
The end of Jones' third season saw her awarded one of the most prestigious honors: the Triple Crown in the Thursday night league for posting the high game (265), high set (670) and high average (177).
Jones has moved on to the high-tech reactive resin bowling balls. Now she's using the Piranha.
"Probably in the next few weeks she'll add to that," Sieglein said. "And she's practicing."
This summer she attended the Dick Ritger bowling camp at Williamsburg.
"The first night [Sunday] they videotaped us on the lanes," Jones said. "The rest of the week was personal instruction and bowling. And more bowling. The last night [Friday]they videotaped again. It has a profound effect on you when you can see the huge difference a week of professional instruction can make in your game."
Footnote: In the summer tournament currently being conducted
in the Baltimore area (bowling in different centers each week) Jones is averaging 185. Last week she pounded out a 278 game and a 692 series in the summer tour.
Leagues start next month
A new bowling season is upon us. It's time to dig out the equipment and head for the practice lanes.
And maybe time to think about buying a new ball or new shoes.
"You should leave yourself enough time to get adjusted to a new ball," Sieglein said. "If the equipment change is a big one, you could possibly see your average dip before you really learn to use it."