Monday, November 23, 2009

Seeing the Forest

Bowling is a noisy system. From week to week, our scores fluctuate wildly and for no apparent reason. This frustrates some people to no end (I'm talking to you, E.B.). We all want to get better, and we do with time, but it generally takes a long time to notice that improvement. We seem to be going nowhere fast. Week to week performance distracts us from that long term trend. If I think back to four years ago, when we joined the Bernaski League, our improvement is obvious. We have all added around 30 pins to our averages. If I think of the last few weeks, it seems like nothing is changing. Weekly bowling scores are simply trees that distract us from seeing the forest. But the forest still there, and it can be teased out of all of those stupid trees.

Our team time series down there on the right is an excellent example of this. It seems to go up and down wildly with no apparent trend. There are many factors to account for this. For example, our team membership has not been constant. Last year, we had the Canadian in the three spot. Now, we have Ging. There are weeks when we have subs, like K-Terk and Becker. These changing factors will affect our week to week pin totals. There are underlying constants, myself, John, and Joe. We have been there from the beginning, and its not difficult to tease out our improvement over this time frame.

Here's how I did it. I looked at averages from week to week for the three of us. There were weeks when one of us was missing, but I ignored this small factor. But to smooth out the wiggles caused by those weekly trees, I used a 10 week running average. I simply looked at our average game score for the last ten weeks of bowling, and when I did, the pattern became very obvious. Here it is:
The dots in gray are our weekly averages. The red dots are the running average, our average over the last ten weeks. Last season, John, Joe, and I peaked early, around the middle of February, and we limped into the end of the season. This season has been a different story. Our average has increased steadily with a couple of bumps. The good news is that ten weeks into this season, we are bowling better than we have ever bowled. We have averaged just under 156 pins per game. It may seem odd. We went through a horrific slump when we could not win a game. We have all had good days and bad days. But when you look at three bowlers over a ten week period, you are averaging a total of 90 games of bowling, and all of those distracting trees give way to a forest that is easy to see. In this case, I like the look of the forest. I'd sure like to see it look like 160 trees, and eventually it will. I'm not sure when exactly, but we'll get there.

1 comment:

  1. What, me frustrated? Nahhhhhh... It's just a game (reminds me of a song by Triumph that ought to be on my soundtrack). Any moron can bowl. Just pick up the weighty spherical doohickey and roll it down the wooden path toward those white thingies at the other end... Heck, you even get TWO tries!

    (see? my therapy's working... serenity now, serenity now)


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