Tuning Up Your Bowling Technique

Picking up spares is the one thing that even a beginner bowler can learn to dramatically improve their game. It can easily make the difference between a 110 and 180 average!

While strikes are an important thing to learn, for a beginning to intermediate level bowler, I advise this: Clear your spares and the strikes will come. You will beat most of the competition by simply clearing your frames.

Professional bowlers use a “spare ball”. That being a regular, plastic ball they use solely for the purpose of picking up their spares.

Even if you have your own ball, try using one of the regular, plain-colored, plastic “house” balls to pick up your spares. They are drilled to roll perfectly straight, enabling you to better hit your target.

Take the time to learn how to effectively pick up your spares. Start by looking at your body posture and stance. The way you hold yourself makes a difference. When your wrist is straight yet relaxed and your arm flows smoothly and in a straight arc forward (not curving around your body and back) your aim will be more accurate.

The easiest bowling technique to knock down your spare pins is to aim the ball directly at them in a straight line. It’s not the time to use your $300 hook ball; you want to minimize any spin.

Be sure to relax your wrist as you release the ball and it will roll smooth and straight. Take the time to practice picking up your spares every chance you get. Many experienced league and professional players practice by aiming for the 7 or 10 pin. This method allows them to see how the ball reacts to the effort of crossing the lane.

Practice, relax, concentrate and take your time when going after your spare. A moment taken to line up your shot and take a deep, relaxing breath will make all the difference.

A good rule of thumb is to aim your ball at the pin closest to you, striking it on the side opposite any other pins. Always start from the arrow to the left or right of whichever pins remain standing. Roll across the strike target at the pins you’re aiming for and before you know it you will be picking up your spares!

There are a few instances in which your efforts may prove futile. If you know that you’re doing the right bowling techniques but are missing your targets, one of the following culprits is usually to blame:

If your ball is too dull or dirty, it can roll early and use up all its energy instead of storing it up until it reaches the back-end. Pop it in the ball-polishing machine.

If your ball is consistently hooking early and slowing down on the back end, it could be the ball’s surface. Again, use the polisher or have it buffed with very high-grade sandpaper.

If your ball seems to slip, or obviously moves funny at the same spot on a lane, it could be a divot, oil, or other flaw in the lane. Try a different lane and see if that helps.

If you’ve tried a new ball surface and a new lane and your ball is still hooking too early, move your feet a little to the left if you’re right handed or right if you’re left handed to compensate.

With just a little extra effort you can learn to improve your average and clear your frames. You will have a newfound appreciation for the sport, admiration of your teammates and the envy of your competitors once you’ve mastered the bowling tips and techniques to effectively pick up your spares.

Triathlon Swim Technique

Practice Bilateral Breathing

Mastering breathing is one of the most important techniques triathletes should adopt. It’s important to know how to breathe on both sides because weather and water conditions are unpredictable, other swimmers may be close by, the direction of the sun can interfere with vision and buoys may not be placed on one side.

Learn What Head Position Works for You

A leading triathlete coach, Swim Smooth’s Paul Newsome, argues that there is no ideal head position for everyone. While many trainers feel that looking down straight down is ideal, this position isn’t that great for open water swimming where a forward-looking head position helps you navigate and draft.

You also need to get used to water-clogged goggles. It’s important to have a good pair of swimming goggles and learn how to position your head for the best view with them on.

Work on Your Catch and Pull Early On

While head position, stroke and kicking get ample attention during traditional swim training, coach Paul Newsome advises that catch and pull are techniques that need to be mastered early on for success in open water swimming. He says it will take your swimming to the next level. Do the doggy paddle and head up polo stroke drills to improve catch.

Increase Endurance Work

Do some dry land work to increase endurance, especially if you go to the gym. If you’re a beginner, the fitness of your arms may not be enough to endure a triathlon swim just yet, so pull ups, cable weight pulling exercises, lateral pull downs and bench presses will help build arm endurance.

Video Tape Your Stroke

Most of us have experienced situations where the coach repeats something over and over, but we aren’t able to see what they mean. An analysis of our stroke on video will help you see exactly what it looks like and where you need to improve. You can follow it up with some resistance band work on dry land to perfect technique.

Perfect Your Posture

The best swimming posture is a good posture. A good posture in general helps you keep your body straight in the water and will prevent things like arm cross-overs, reduced rotation and scissor kicks. A good posture means a cleaner, stronger stroke and less energy spent.

Learn All the Strokes

You might think, “But I am never going to do butterfly in open water!” Of course you won’t but that’s not why you need to practice other strokes. When you challenge your body with different strokes, your body develops more strength because of the extra stimulus you offered it. You can gain a stronger core, mental fitness and aerobic strength with every new stroke that you add to your skills.

Getting Hiking Gear

Hiking Boots

Among the essentials in any set of hiking gear would definitely be hiking boots. And you will need to choose them carefully based on where you’re planning on walking. For most purposes, a good set of hiking boots should remain waterproof and provide support especially to the ankles, which can often twist easily if you’re going to be hiking for a long day or on rough terrain.

Personally, I prefer a good solid boot without anything too fancy. But really, it is a case of experimenting with your preferences and trying on a few different styles and brands until you’re happy with your choice. Once you’ve got them, spend a bit of time hiking regularly while breaking them in, and soon enough, you’ll have a pair of hiking boots that will almost feel as though they’re a part of your feet.


If you’ve ever found yourself hiking on the trail with the pants chafing between your legs, then you’ll know that getting the right pair of trousers is vital. Polypropylene is the usual material used for hiking trousers because it is comfortable and quick-drying. Aside from being comfortable, I like my hiking pants to have plenty of pockets for storing granola bars or almost anything that you need quick access to on the trail.

When choosing my hiking trousers, I usually go for the ones that have the lower legs which can be zipped off, and be converted into shorts. It might just be a small thing, but when the heat is baking, then putting the bottom of the legs into the pack and getting on with the hiking does feel great.

Shirts And Base Layers

When it comes to hiking, the base layer is probably the most important garment that you will wear, second to your boots. A good base layer will be wicking away the sweat from your skin, while making sure that you stay at the right temperature. Most important of all, you need to make sure that you’re comfortable, so try a few different materials, and make sure you’re happy with the one you choose, and it’ll look after you while you’re hiking.

Once you start moving on to shirts and fleeces, the old adage about thinner layers and lots of them being better than a small number of thicker layers is completely accurate. If you’re hiking to the really cold areas, a thicker coat can be a good addition, but most hiking trips will suffice with a few layers and a set of waterproofs.

Calorie Burn

Long Runs

Long runs also help to boost your post-run metabolic rate – running keeps your metabolism raised for several hours after a workout and so you burn more calories even if you’re resting, though as you become fitter you’ll recover faster and you won’t burn so many calories.

Another calorie burning exercise is to carry out speedwork sessions – if you’re running on a track, alternate fast laps with slow laps which will promote fat burning.

Run first thing in the morning when you haven’t yet replaced the carbohydrates you have burned during the night. Your body will then burn a higher percentage of calories than usual.


If you join a running club, you’ll not only have running partners but also people who can help you stick to your goals. They’ll also support you if you start to feel stressed or depressed which could lead to overeating.

Remember though that if you do want to lose a lot of weight, you should consult your doctor for further advice.

Millie Reed writes regular stories for the running website dorunning. Specialising in running footware, clothing and accessories, dorunning is becoming an unmissable resource for athlets of all abilities. With vast amounts of information to help runners, dorunning is fast becoming a runner’s bible. With amateur and professional athletes buying their running shoes and gear from us, we are always up to date with the latest in the world of running.

Arborist Equipment

Saw Blades

With so many options to choose from, it’s important to sort them out. A straight saw blade saw with smaller teeth is generally used for fine pruning, with a smooth, steady cut, but slower than more aggressive design. The curved blade, on the other hand, offers you unmatched cutting speed. Narrow width saw blades are best for cutting in tight crotches, and fine pruning.

Tree saws also come with different sorts of teeth, namely large or fine. The large teeth are best for cutting big branches. They work faster, but don’t count on them to give you as fine a cut. The fine teeth are for smaller limbs. Most professional saw blades now come with tri-edged, laser cut teeth for long-lasting sharpness and efficient cutting.

Pinnacle Arborist supplies carries the most popular professional hands saw, pole saw and replacement blades form Samurai, Silky, Jameson, Fred Marvin and Fanno.

Pruning Poles

Most pruning poles today are made of extruded or spun fiberglass, though Poplar wood poles are still in use for their durability. Fiberglass poles from Jameson or Marvin come in a variety of wall thicknesses and lengths to meet your needs, some models also extend or telescope to desired lengths. Foam filled fiberglass poles are widely used for trimming in proximity to power lines. Fiberglass poles have male and female ferrules allowing 2 or more poles to be connected for extra reach. However, the longer the pole, the less rigid it becomes making pruning more difficult.

While all clean and dry fiberglass poles have insulating properties, you should never work within 10 feet of energized lines unless you have been trained to do so safely.

Silky makes popular aluminum Hayauchi and Hayate pole saws that can telescope to 20 feet, providing extra reach in a single pole. Because of the conductivity of aluminum and their long reach, Silky pole saws should not be used within 50 feet of power lines.

Tree Climbing Rigging

For more athletic individuals, it may be very easy to climb up a tall tree with their bare limbs. This is not the case with everyone. So, what should one do if he is not athletic and does not have the courage to conquer the tree all by his own? A decade ago, it would have been difficult to answer this question. However, in the modern day still very few people know about tree rigging. It is a new term introduced into the tree world.

Tree rigging is the process of mounting up equipment and gear on the tree to make it easy for anyone to climb up a tree. Not only this, it means to perform some maintenance tasks such as lowering already cut heavy tree branches loaded on some ones shoulder. The gear is almost similar to the equipment used by mountain or rock climbers and the term rigging came from the mast system of a sailing ship. The pulleys and ropes used are similar to the ones in the mast system of a ship.

It is important to know that there are a number of methods for rigging a tree but mainly three types of riggings are very popular. Single rope rigging is the most simplest of riggings with a strong nylon rope wrapped and tied around a very thick and strong branch of the tree. The climber can then use mountain climbing harnesses that have the feature of using a metal belay which the climber uses to tighten the rope with. As the rope gets tighter, the climber moves up higher on the tree. The belay prevents the rope from losing grip and unspooling. The climber can use a lever to unspool the rope and lower himself down from the tree.

Another kind of rigging is the drift line rigging. This is quite a complex type of rigging but once done it even provides the climbers with the facility of walking over a rope tied between two trees just like a bridge. It is usually done by tying two very strong and durable ropes between two trees that are a few meters apart. The ropes are tied to the trunks and branches of the two trees very securely. The climber wears a safety harness belt hooked to the upper rope and tries to walk on the lower rope.

The pulley system rigging is most useful in raising or lowering materials and tools. It simply employs a pulley fixed on a top branch of the tree. Then a nylon rope is passed through pulley with both ends reaching the ground. The rope is pulled from one end to raise the materials or a climber attached to the other end of the rope.

Points to a Great Daypack

Compartments & Pockets

You figured out what you want to do with your daypack, now ask yourself how many compartments you need to do it? Only School books? One large compartment for books and a small pocket for miscellaneous might do it. Professional photographer? At least 2-3 heavily padded compartments for cameras, lens, flash, and tripods. Small pockets for keys, passport, currency, and credentials, and a separate area for a water bottle. These are 2 clearly different daypacks. The second daypack might also work for the books, but the single compartment one would make the photographer very frustrated, and likely appear like a bumbling novice.

Type & Number of Straps

Huh? These days daypacks come with 1 (mono) strap, 2 straps (padded or rope type), with/without a sternum strap, and with/without a waist-belt. Espresso machine and surround sound sold separately! It’s tempting to throw up your hands and say “whatever,” but if you do more than walk from the curb to your door, it makes a HUGE difference. Ever hiked down a mountain without a waist-belt, daypack slamming into your back every step? Trail runners will think you’re nuts if you don’t have a sternum strap to keep it from slipping off you shoulders every time you dodge a rock or hole. I wouldn’t want to be rocketing down the highway without knowing I’ve got secure, fully adjustable straps to keep my pack from tangled round the bikes rear axle either!

Hydration Compatibility

If your daypack is an empty bag to throw dirty undies into for laundry day, this feature isn’t one you’ll need to consider. Outdoor types will tell you a daypack that is hydration compatible is a necessary convenience. Carrying a water bottle in your hand, or taking off your daypack and fumbling around when you’re thirsty, makes for a longer, more tedious journey when you should be enjoying yourself. Some daypacks come with water bladders, while others are “hydration compatible,” and allow you to purchase a bladder to put in a special compartment that gives you access to the drinking hose. At very least, consider one with an exterior mesh pocket that holds a water bottle.

Attachment Points

This one area separates a GREAT daypack from one that’s destined for the circular bin. If you’re the type of person that skips over points, #5 alone might save you from wasting money on that “bargain” daypack you planned to buy. A highly usable, extremely versatile daypack has a multitude of hooks, loops, zipper pulls, and molle strap attachment points. These features increase the versatility of the daypack by a factor of X. You can easily carry tripods, umbrellas, hiking poles, snowshoes, bike helmets, rainflys, and if so inclined… the kitchen sink! Many first aid kits, camera bags, tactical gear, and ditty bags are already compatible with these additional hooks and molle straps. These attachment points are like owning multiple packs, allowing you to customize one daypack to many different activities.

Throwing A Hook Ball in Bowling

Hook Bowling

Straight balls are great if you’re a beginner but they can limit your scores to the 160 – 180 range. When you’re constantly throwing straight balls, you have to focus more on bowling perfectly the first time. The way to truly raise your scores is to change that straight ball of yours into a hook ball.

The Definition Of A Hook Ball

A hook ball unlike a straight ball, curves after delivery. The bowlers hand comes from behind the ball rounding the side that makes the ball rotate sideways. The sideways rotation makes the ball go to the left or the right. There are three types of hook: the cranker, the stroker and the helicopter. Here they are:

  • The Stroker. The bowler’s sliding foot stops just before the bowling ball gets to the bottom of the swing, creating moderate leverage for a controllable ball reaction. The shoulders have to be very square at the release point. I like the stroker because it plays straighter up the outside of the lane which allows the ball to gently hook into the pocket.
  • The Cranker. The cranker is different, using this technique, the ball reaches maximum revolution. This way more power is produced. The bowler stands with their feet to left hand side of the approach and then swings the ball out to the left hand of the approach. The cranker technique uses late timing (this means getting to the foul line before the ball). They plant their foot and then pull their arm through, bending the elbow in order to keep the hand behind and under the ball and leaving the shoulders open for the maximum leverage. Because of all these moves the cranker can cause muscle injury.
  • The Helicopter. This is a very popular form of bowling in Asia. This technique originated in Taiwan where the lanes generally were in poor condition. When using this technique it is best to use a ball weighing between 10 – 12 lbs. Bring the fingers all the way round the top of the ball, as opposed to the hook where you bring the fingers round the sides. The ball travels straight down the lane but it spins like helicopter propellers as it travels. Once you master this technique, believe me when I say that you’ll love it.

Improving Your Footwork

In rock climbing, as in every other human activity, people search for the instantaneous improvement, the ‘magic bullet’. In climbing, if I had to cite a magic bullet for technique, it would be improved footwork. I’ve seen world-class climbers with terrible footwork. (How much better could they have been, one wonders, if only…)

You may have just started rock climbing or you may have been at it for decades. I’d be amazed if you couldn’t improve your footwork (and that includes me too!) Better footwork means less effort on your fingers and arms. Put simply, you can stay on the rock for a lot longer without a rest. On a route near your limit, this will often mean the difference between success and failure.

On the rock, most climbers think about going from handhold to handhold. You would do far better to think about going from foothold to foothold. It’s as though peoples’ brains think, “Hands!” – especially when they’re scared. They would be better thinking “Feet!” At their best, footholds may give you a hands-off rest, i.e. full recovery.

A good way of improving footwork is traversing on low walls, just above the ground, in a position of maximum safety (but still, please, take care). Use the toe of your climbing shoe as a precision instrument. Pivot through on it and push your entire body from it. This is what Mike Lea, a former UK national climbing team coach, used to call, “Building your feet.” Try it and see the difference.

Many people shuffle one foot after the other. It may make more sense to ‘step through’, e.g. if you’re traversing leftwards, bring your right foot leftwards, past your left foot. And remember – you don’t need to climb facing straight on to the rock. You can use the inside or the outside front edge of your climbing shoe. You can use heel-hooks and toe hooks.

When I started climbing in the 1960s, it was in big boots. Precision? Forget it! Modern climbing shoes are like Formula 1 racing cars, often driven by novice drivers. Make the most of your climbing shoes and you will notice a huge difference.

A last point (for male climbers, especially novice male climbers). Forget ‘pulling yourself’ up the rock. Instead watch women climbers of all abilities. In general, women have massively better footwork than men. But, with rare exceptions, really good climbers of both genders have a lightness and precision of footwork that’s a marvel to behold. Watch them and learn. Above all, in climbing and in life, never stop learning!

Ways of Bowling a Hook

The hook of the ball while you are hook bowling requires you to insert the fingers up to the second knuckle for a nice score. This is because you use the thumb to hold the ball in space while you swing it back. However, you could also use any other type of hooking as long as it supports the long swing and it gives the ball the required momentum while maintaining the body balance. You might fall the first few attempts you try bowling a curve. This is mainly because of lack of enough speed or lack of balance after the releasing the ball. This is the reason why this technique is assumed to be done by pros only. Bowling a hook also requires the shoulders to be kept broad while the elbow joint is kept straight. It is advisable to swing from the left so that the ball can curve from the left and hit the pins from the left side of the rail.

The favored throw that works with the hook bowling is the cranker. This is because it is equally vigorous and it entails late timing and so by the time you get to the foul line, the ball is till swing from the back and the process of releasing comes systematically just as you get to the line. It also enables the ball to roll from the hand and join the rails as it is rolling from another rail. Since the cranker also involves moving the elbows out and keeping stretching the arm all the length, it is ideal for hook bowling. If you want to tell the difference between a pro and an armature, pros always resolve to hook balling if they want to catch up or if they want to start with a high mark. They are always sure that the hook bowling allows them to spin the ball as much as they want and they can therefore drop all the pins with a throw of this move. When learning this trick, it is advisable to start with a light ball since it can easily dislocate your fingers.