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Straight-shot bowlers also have game

Mike Weekley is one of the elite bowlers in the L.A. area.
Mike Weekley is one of the elite bowlers in the L.A. area.
Courtesy of Mike Weekley

This is one of my favorite stories and ran originally on May 3, 2013.

Are you a league bowler who’s intimidated by all the fancy and sharp-breaking hooks that others are tossing all over the lanes?

Don’t be.

That’s the message from Mike Weekley, one of the top coaches and bowlers in the area.

Weekley is not saying that bowlers can’t improve their game with a disciplined hook. In fact, he’d encourage a hook. But the 30-year-old Los Angeles resident wants to make it clear that that there’s plenty of room for bowlers who throw straight shots to thrive.

“I believe there’s definitely a place for a straight-shot bowler,” Weekley said.

“Whenever I leave four or fewer pins, I switch to my plastic ball for my spares. The goal is to be very precise and very direct to the target and that’s a straight shot.”

A hook, Weekley says, is valuable because it can trigger a higher percentage of strikes than a straight shot.

“The most important thing you lose when you throw a straight ball is pin action,” Weekley said.

But he adds this cautionary note: “Anyone can hook, but you have to manipulate a hook.”

The right-handed Weekley, sporting a powerful 231 average at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills, throws his hook with two fingers in the ball and his thumb outside of it.

“It took me a good three or four months before I could do it on command,” said Weekley, who has competed in Professional Bowlers Assn. regionals.

But Weekley emphasizes that accuracy trumps everything. And if a bowler with a straight shot can be accurate, he or she “is deadly,” he said.

“Bowlers who show up once a week and get strikes with a straight ball and all they want to do is chuck a ball and walk out, I understand. I really do.

“I think that’s awesome. Anyone who shows up and wants to bowl and gets decent action, kudos to him. My hat’s off to him.”

Of course, there’s a reason that all the bowlers on the PBA Tour throw a hook, although the break varies from moderate to extremely sharp.

“If you want to improve and raise your strike action, you have to make a change,” Weekley said.

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