It's the start of the new bowling season, and if your league hasn’t started, here are a few tips you should consider before you throw that first ball.

If you didn’t bowl during the summer, you should get out and practice. However, take your time and don’t exert yourself on your early shots. Your muscles need to adapt to the new activity. You don’t want to pull any muscles or have any type of early injury that could prevent you from a full year of bowling.

You should also consider cleaning out your bowling case. Get rid of all the items you collected from the previous bowling season (standing sheets, banquet notices, and i.e.). Wash your bowling towel or get a new one.

Check your equipment, and begin with your shoes. Clean the bottoms and consider new laces. If your shoes are worn, you might want to think about purchasing a new pair.

If you have improved your average significantly and are contemplating a more competitive league, you might want to consider a pair that permits you to change the sliding soles and heels depending upon the condition of the approaches.

Restock all your accessories (tape, ball cleaner, i.e.). Today’s high tech equipment has a tendency to absorb oil. If you don’t use a ball cleaner, purchase some. It comes in either spray bottles or wipes. A ball cleaner is an important accessory for ball maintenance.

Changes in your physical situation from the previous year should be taken into consideration and some of those might lead to having your ball re-drilled. Remember that as we get older, we tend to lose flexibility.

If you are or you’re approaching the senior citizen age group, it’s a good idea to have your pro-shop owner evaluate your grip (most experts recommend every other year). You might need to shorten your span or change your pitch to compensate for any physical differences that may have occurred.

Youth bowlers also should be aware of changes, but in the opposite. They experience growth spurts and increased strength. This usually leads to an increase in your span and a potential of going to heavier equipment.

Age may also play a part in strength. Just like flexibility, most of us lose strength as we get older. If you find yourself struggling with a ball that seems too heavy, don’t hesitate to drop your ball weight. Tests have shown that with today’s high tech equipment hitting power loss is almost minimal.

You may have had surgery that may have affected your strength (rotator cuff, hip replacement, knee replacement). If that has occurred, a couple of practice session is a must. You might discover a loss of strength and might have to go to a lighter ball.

It’s also a good idea to check your thumb and finger grips. No matter what brand or type, they all wear out. There are usually three indicators that tells you it’s time to change grips – a loss of lift and power, a loose feeling in the thumb or finger holes, and lack of grip (fingers) when releasing the ball.

The last area we will discuss is resurfacing your ball. We are well aware that the bowling ball’s surface is one of the major factors in how the ball reacts with the lane. That’s why it is important to clean your equipment after each session.

However, that is not enough. Dirt, lane conditioner, and oil get into the pores of modern equipment and will affect a ball’s performance. Normal wear and tear on the ball also compounds the problem.

All bowling balls will pick up nicks and scratches. This type of harm is to be expected and is usually not a main cause for concern. However, any damage to the track area should be dealt with.

We all know the track area is the worn part surrounding your ball that is a result of routine contact between the lane surface and the ball. As we continue to use our equipment, typical wear in the track area will progress to the point where your ball may be ineffective. When this occurs, it may be time to get your ball resurfaced.

There are two methods that can be used – hand-sanding the ball in a high-speed spinner or one of the high tech ball resurfacing machines. Both methods are usually done by a pro-shop owner. Obviously, the latter method is preferred as it eliminates over-sanding which leads to a flat spot on the ball.

These are merely suggestions. However, to each and everyone one of you here’s hoping you have a great bowling season.

GABE D’ANGELO is a member of the Mercer County Bowling Hall of Fame and Professional Bowlers Writers Association who writes this weekly column for The Herald. He can be reached at guru8942@verizon.net.

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