Failing to experiment enough.

From the outside, bowling appears to be a game of physical prowess, repeat enough shots and your score goes up. Same with picking up spares. This is true up to a certain point of skill level, not at the professional level though.

To put this in perspective, with the way bowling is scored when you’re on a string of strikes and you suddenly get a 9 count, your maximum score loses 21 pins. That means the difference between averaging 219 and 240 is 1 pin that stayed standing in 1 frame per game. A tiny shift, and a huge difference.

Now, the problem with that is the lanes have oil that moves around as well. It moves enough without you noticing, then you’ll leave that pin standing and see that drop. However, bowling balls aren’t static. There are different ways to drill them and different surface finishes you can put on them that produce different reaction shapes. These reaction shapes can minimize or maximize (if using the wrong types) your misses providing better odds that a little miss still gets a strike. If you’re interested in this phenomenon, Luke Rosdahl mentions it in a video below.

I’ve been bowling competitively for 21 years now. Early on without proper coaching and guidance, failing to experiment held me back significantly. My physical game adapted quickly, but not understanding how important surface was to oil patterns saw me getting beat by people much less skilled physically. There is such a strong life lesson here.

Experimentation is a must. You need to try new things. You need to discover how you work best. You need to discover what maximizes your opportunities and what minimizes them. It’s okay if everyday isn’t an experiment, but something new needs to be there from time to time, else we’ll go on in life underperforming what we are capable of. Would you rather average 240 or 219? A small change could be a massive difference, but you won’t know that without the experimentation.

If you ever forget this, just remember at the top level bowling isn’t just a game of physical prowess, all the pros throw the ball well. It’s a game of matching up, and to learn to do that, you must experiment.

P.S. This applies to companies too. A company that fails to experiment will be a dinosaur in 20-30 years and it won’t be that noticeable because they’ll likely have left two more single pins standing in 10 frames then they did two decades earlier. The problem is they were averaging 240, now they are averaging 200 and sinking fast. The conditions changed on them and they didn’t see it.