I play slowly. I know it affects the tournament experience. Let's talk

I play slowly. I know this affects the tournament experience for particularly fast players who might wait up to 20 minutes at times between games. Since we slow players are the bottleneck, we collectively create a environment somewhat hostile to faster players in particular. When there is a delay on our pair, it gets even worse.

I’m inviting you to talk about this here, rather than on Facebook, where we can have real talk without the pressure to be funny or entertaining or whatever other nonsense Facebook encourages people to do and be.

What do you want to say or ask about this situation?

I’m on #teamslow. Ask me anything.

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I might be one of Newfoundland’s slowest bowlers. I’ve made efforts to speed up the process this year, not because of the environment it creates by being slow but because I thought it creates space for random thoughts I don’t need.

I kind of rely on most bowlers not being like me though, at least in St. John’s. It drives me nuts when I’m not the slowest on my lane. If I’m in an Open trial and I get a lane draw with a slow bowler and we both have to spend the day doing lane courtesy at each other for hours it creates a bit of tension - I wonder if that’s what you mean by hostile, and I wonder if everyone feels it. I know I’ve heard jokes before “Oh it’s Mitchell and so and so on the lane we’ll be all day”

But like… I’m not going to let that motivate any of my decisions because just grabbing a ball and throwing it without taking time with it has never ever worked in my life. The days of pre-shot practice swings are over for now so that’s a gift I’m giving out of pure selfishness! Be grateful lol

I’ve gone the other way. I have worked on letting the thoughts roll through and so I don’t have the impulse to speed up specifically in order to reduce the impact of those thoughts. I’m increasingly satisfied to let them be as they are.

I guess this is the next kind of open blaming that needs to disappear from our sport culture? I don’t poke fun at people for going too fast; I merely wonder at how they’re able to do it, because it seems out of my reach.

I think this lies near the crux of the matter. I’m not doing this because it’s fun; I’m doing this because when I just grab the ball and go, I’m terrible. And I don’t want to be terrible at this.

As a guy who can slow it down every once in a while, I think some that maybe help shift attitudes on this is changing the concept of how it is framed. From my personal end of it I have no issues with people playing slower as long as their is a mean where it seems to be the natural pace where the feel ready, as compared to being unnaturally slow to unnaturally be “ready”. Like I said earlier I can get slow with an extreme example being Open provincials last year where the was documented instances of me taking in excess of a min to take from my first step from the time I set my feet, yet in light of that fact until the end of the event and it being brought to my attention I had zero idea that I had slowed down my process at all. Never once did I give consideration to “slowing down”, the entire time was always centred around completing a checklist/process in my head. Those items did not change but I went when I was ready, and not looking for a timeline to actually accomplish taking a specific amount of time. I am not certain if that makes great sense but hopefully it provides a different perspective on the whole slow play discussion.

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I think this lies at the center of the issue: naturally and unnaturally. That seems to me to be a matter of trust.

I’m not slow because I’m

  • not paying attention
  • not ready to walk up there when I’m up (unless I’m coming back from the bathroom)
  • at the bar when I’m up

I’m going through a checklist, too, which includes breathing. Slowly. A full breath often takes me 10-12 seconds. If I take one breath on the approach, I’m already slow.

Most my time comes from waiting for other folks. I often let the people beside me throw an extra ball, especially if I know they’re faster on average. That, to me, is real lane courtesy. And that’s what probably slows me down the most.

I’m also the type to grab a ball then come back and wait for my neighbors, rather than grab a ball then jump on the approach. I just never acquired that habit.

It’s similar for me. Grab a ball. Give them a chance to go. Up on the approach. Focused thoughts. One breath. Go.

That’s what I’m trying to do every time. When I have a false start, I slow down. When I try to get out of someone’s way who’s on a roll, I slow things down.

As a player who has tried to get quicker in order to appease the masses, you can’t compromise who you are.

I’ve had numerous conversations with upper-elite players on the subject and the general consensus is at the end of the day… you have to be you!

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Yes. At the same time, it’s a short walk from here to spite. I know you’re not there, but someone will go there, and I don’t think that helps.

I’m more interested in what you do with all that time. I suspect that if more people knew what we were doing, it might be easier to let everyone be as they are.

I agree with you. I know this year I’ve tried to be quicker in some tourneys and it’s cost me negatively in the score sometimes.

I’m working on the time it takes for me to get set, which is far longer than the approach and shot itself.

Sometimes the rain delay is mostly pre-shot, which I can minimize if my focus and concentration is better off the lanes.

I know I’m often waiting for my breath cycle to step up onto the approach, so that I’m timed well when I get up there to take just one breath then go. What are you usually waiting for to feel set?

I’m really interested in what average-to-faster players have to say about all this. I have heard about complaints towards the pace of play especially at the 2023 Autumn Open. I was there, so I was part of it.

It’s a tough line to figure out. I’m perhaps one of the faster bowlers at a tournament, but that’s just my mindset. I can easily get too into my head and I overthink every little thing and that’s when I start faltering more and more. I can’t grab my ball and stay at the back of the lane going through a checklist mentally. My body has been doing this for enough years that I trust it to know what to do. Granted, I’ve had my sliding knee become compromised over the last year or two, with Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Osgood Schlatters Disease, as well as a partially strained/torn MCL (Knee Specialist hasn’t fully diagnosed this yet, but he knows the MCL is compromised), so it’s definitely affected everything overall.

But back on topic. As someone who is on the opposite spectrum it can definitely be… annoying? Hard? Tough? To watch someone be incredibly slow. But at the same time, if it’s truly succeeding for them, such as a Adam Weber, or Brad Tytgat at open provincials, who am I to say for them to change? To speed up? If they are scoring at that rate because of it, all the power to them.

I believe it is just more exposed now from how large the tournaments have become. Instead of the odd speckling of a Weber, a Ziebarth, it’s grown more and more. I’ll say keep doing what you do. Be comfortable with who you are. People will give a stink eye for anything. Slow bowling, being loud, etc.

I feel very, very, very conspicuous when I’m slow and not scoring. It’s easier to bowl 2100 slowly than 1600 slowly. If I don’t feel comfortable doing what I do, then I don’t see how I’m going to score more 2100s to compensate for my slow play.

I came to a similar conclusion. We are getting more and more of all kinds. There are even people throwing more balls than I am! This, on its own, is going to make the extremes of the spectrum move farther away from each other: faster rabbits as well as slower turtles.

I appreciate the vote of support, but I’m looking at this issue even more widely. At Regina, people are sometimes waiting 20 minutes for the next game and that’s just not reasonable any more. I do not want to contribute to driving people away from these competitions. (I know it’s not just me, but it’s also me.)

I know that part of the problem lies in jumping ahead and starting the next game when the pair is free, rather than waiting for everyone to finish. I get the impulse, but it makes those delays bigger, not smaller. Delays accumulate and there is no way to catch up; you can only hope not to fall farther behind. That’s not my opinion; that’s math. (Real math.)

I’d like to know more about how that really feels for you and what you consider “incredibly” slow. Or maybe better, how much waiting would feel reasonable to you.

I came to a similar conclusion. We are getting more and more of all kinds. There are even people throwing more balls than I am! This, on its own, is going to make the extremes of the spectrum move farther away from each other: faster rabbits as well as slower turtles.

I truly think this is the biggest culprit of slow pace of play overall. There’s just more players overall. I remember the days of 130-170 entrants. You just didn’t have the further outliers. The few who were, were generally throwing a millioin strikes anyways lol

I know that part of the problem lies in jumping ahead and starting the next game when the pair is free, rather than waiting for everyone to finish.

It would be interesting to see the difference in “Once your set is up, go”, and “Wait until everyone is done, then go”. I truly don’t know if it would make a difference at end time, as you are always going to be dictated by the slowest lane, but still.

I’d like to know more about how that really feels for you and what you consider “incredibly” slow. Or maybe better, how much waiting would feel reasonable to you.

I can say it’s frustrating… but I find it far MORE frustrating to bowl with someone that is throwing incredibly bad. I don’t mean a “Oh, Bowler X plowed his lights out for a 1700”, but a “Bowler Y probably shouldn’t be bowling this as they shot below a 1400 for 8.” I don’t want to name names, as I think these tournaments are for everyone and I don’t want to drive away money from the tournament. I’d rather bowl with someone slow over that though.

As for what I feel reasonable to me, that’s hard to narrow down. Again, someone like Weber having a long routine works and I would bowl with him all day every day. But if a long routine that has minimal results is what is putting a set behind 1, 2 or even 3 frames behind, my thought process is “Why?” Is there something in that routine that can be shortened? I know you mentioned letting everyone else go ahead of you, but that may be making things worse. Perhaps going up first will speed things up. I think that plays into what you said: “Delays accumulate and there is no way to catch up; you can only hope not to fall farther behind. That’s not my opinion; that’s math. (Real math.)”. You are delaying yourself, which is lost time.

I will say this though. I don’t think slow bowlers is what is going to push people away from these tournaments. I do think it’s going to be the INCREDIBLY high cut lines. But I think that’s a topic for another time.

I would say to try and find “time saves”. Is the long, slow breath necessary? Is it making a difference? Can I do the long slow breath while waiting on another bowler? Can I do a 5-6 second breath while on the lane?

I may have rambled, but hopefully this helps.

Personally I appreciate the break between games. Helps me change lanes less chaotically so I don’t forget things. Also I’m a nicotine addict so I vape between games so slow bowlers on other lane draws make it so I’m not the delay.

After a bit more reflection I realize the reason I sped up my process is because I don’t bowl slow in practice. I adjusted my league and tournament bowling to be closer to the pace at which I practice.

I’m going to agree with this. I think it’s reasonable to understand that everyone is bowling at their pace in order to do their best, and I think most people are reasonable. They don’t even seem to mind me being out vaping, which has nothing to do with bowling. Most people are focused on their own game I find.

It doesn’t change the end time, but it changes when the delays happen. More importantly, it changes how (most) people relate to the delays.

It’s a common bug in the human brain: we’d rather have longer delays sprinkled throughout than one shorter (but still long-enough) delay. This is true even when we’re not trying to manage our bodies (avoiding getting stiff). Most people feel better driving 60 km/h for an hour than sitting in stop-and-go traffic covering 70 km in an hour (sometimes 120 km/h and lots of time stopping). Even when they cover less ground, they feel better when the delays are sporadic and spread out.

I’m very curious about this, because bowling with someone scoring poorly doesn’t bother me until they start really whining about it. And even someone who routinely scores poorly doesn’t bother me until they start really whining about it. I am happy to bowl with someone shooting 1600 and being good-natured about it.

What’s it like for you when you bowl with a 200-average bowler having an off day and shooting 1450?

And here we have another conundrum: if a long routine gets the most out of the bowler’s performance, then that’s what they “ought” to do, even if their best is 1800. Who knows whether, after a couple of years, those 1800s might turn into 2200s? It almost certainly won’t if they feel pressure not to do what helps them perform at their best.

Oh, there’s no question. This is one area where I believe I can make a big difference. I think (and hope!) that, as I become more comfortable, I won’t need to let everyone go ahead of me. Even so, I don’t think I’m going to build the habit of grabbing a ball and getting on the approach. I will absolutely pay more attention to grabbing a ball earlier, even at the risk of spooking someone on the approach beside me. That ought to speed things up.

That doesn’t bother me yet. Ask me again in a year or two if I keep not qualifying and it starts to seem like my best will never be good enough. :person_shrugging:

I don’t know what’s necessary yet, but I’m becoming more aware of what I might be able to experiment with. I have spent years trying to regulate my emotions and I’m really quite good at it now. I can more-safely experiment with letting go of some of those routines and seeing what happens.

Wednesday at practice I experimented specifically with this: I took quicker inhales (cuts probably 4-6 seconds on the approach) and it felt good. I didn’t always wait for a full exhale to push away (cuts probably 4-6 seconds on the approach about half the time) and it felt good. If I throw 20 balls in a game, that’s about 2.5 minutes per game right there. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s 20 minutes for a shift if I’m the bottleneck (and I often am).

Getting deeper than “OMG! GO!!” helps, yes. :smile_cat: Thank you.

It’s hard for slow bowlers to find time to go the washroom, refill water, take medication, or do anything else… because they’re already so slow! I can imagine that wondering where I am for 90 seconds only makes people react even more sharply than me spending 2.5 minutes throwing an open frame.

Tournament directors seem to have taken to expressly mentioning that the tournament will not wait for people out smoking at vaping in recent years which feels like a sharp, yet appropriate reaction lol

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Honestly, for me in tournament play id love to see a shot clock. Really shouldnt take more than a minute to throw a single ball or less. Just my personal opinion. I love a quicker pace but i can deal with a slower one too. Its more mentally taxing for me to bowl with slower bowlers but its part of the game at the end.

Implementing a shot clock is tricky. When does it start? What about people beside me slowing me down? Do I throw away lane courtesy because my clock is ticking down?

I’m about 15 seconds on the approach. Most of the time I take is in two places:

  • grab a ball, come back, let the people beside me throw a ball
  • false start or stop when I go to throw the ball

And the stopping is a bit worse, because I probably tried to spend 3-5 extra seconds to settle down before throwing the ball, that failed, and that’s why I stopped.

I’m not sure a shot clock would make much of that better. Presumably we’d have to have provisions for a time out—let’s say 1 per game. I rarely stop more than 8 times in a shift. The only thing that would really speed me up is a rule saying that once I grab a ball, I must step on the approach to throw that ball.

And that’s something I could just experiment with and get used to without the need for a rule.

Oh absolutely it would be tough to implement but for me its once you get into your setup on the approach…clock starts you get 15-25 seconds to throw the ball. The preshot is tougher to manage. Totally agree. Lane etiquette is paramount.