Monday, January 18, 2010

What's wrong with Brooklyn?

When I started bowling a few years back, I found it odd when somebody seemed apologetic about brooklyn strikes. When a good bowler records a "brookie", they will often turn around and shrug their shoulders as if to say, "My fault." In those days, if I got a strike, I was happy about it. I didn't really care how it happened. Today, I can relate a bit better to the "mea culpa brooklyners".

Getting a brooklyn strike feels like a gift. It means you badly missed your target, but things worked out for you anyway. It's a bit like passing the ball into the arms of a defending safety, having it deflect upward, and into the hands of your receiver in the end zone. You didn't deserve that TD pass, but it worked out in the end.

I would guess that nowadays, about 25-30% of my strikes are brooklyns. I just don't have pinpoint control of the 1st ball. What is interesting, though, is that it is my impression that if I hit the 1-2 pocket, I have a better chance of getting a strike than if I hit the 1-3 (I am right-handed). Still, I always aim for the 1-3 because that's what you're "supposed to do". Conventional wisdom is a funny thing. There are many forms of knowledge derived from many places, but conventional wisdom grows from consensus. If a large majority of people believe something to be true, many other people will simply accept it as truth without much thought. The conventional wisdom in bowling is that for right-handed folk, it is better to hit the 1-3 pocket than the 1-2. Is this true? I have no idea. The data might be available to test that proposition already (see this link from E.B. for example). I think I'll start my own study of the problem tonight.

I was hoping to figure out exactly what happens during a brooklyn strike to complement my prior classic strike post, but I was unable to find a decent video to confirm my preconceptions. What follows is my best guess.

The brooklyn could be seen as symmetrical to the classic strike, but I'm fairly certain that it is not. Also, I think there are probably multiple variants of the brooklyn. Regardless, here is one way it could happen. If the ball strikes the 1 pin on the diagonal formed by the 1-3-6-10, all of those pins will be removed by the domino effect. The ball should deflect to the left into 2 pin, which would take out the 5 and 9. Next, it strikes the four which collides with the 8. Finally, the ball will remove the 7. It is a similar shot to the 1-2-4-7 leave when the ball strikes all four pins.

That's how I see it, but if anybody can find a video to demonstrate exactly what happens, I'd really appreciate it. I'm fairly certain that in some cases, the ball carries through the pins. I could see the 5 kicking back to take out the 8. Since I couldn't find a vid, here's another Brooklyn motion picture for you. As you watch it, ask yourself whether there is truly anything wrong with the brooklyn strike.


  1. I know nothing, especially as a striaght bowler - but I say a strike is a strike. Even if 70% of your strikes are brookies - you are still improving by consistantly getting the ball to a certain area - our increased 200 games show that. I doubt that our 200 games are positively correlated to less brookies.

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  3. I, too, am a flaming heterosexual bowler. I am left-handed in real life, yet bowl right-handed (another piece of the puzzle, right?). I get a fair amount of Brooklyn side strikes, from both boards (11 and 27). (Fair amount being a relative term in this disappointing season.)

  4. 忙碌的一天終於過了,來看看文章轉換心情,也幫你加個油哦~........................................

  5. Love the blog. If I may be so bold, how about something on improving consistency or why we can be so inconsistent? I go from throwing 213 one game to 127 the next. I leave the alley ready to quit then can't wait to bowl again when I get home.

  6. MD- Good idea. I'm out of town for the week, but I'll give it some thought.

    EB- That's weird. Can you also bowl lefty?

  7. Tried once, almost broke the back side of my knee... The Chinese spammer loves your blog, man.


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