Bowling teams would prefer to bowl games to doing drills. This is not unusual. In most sports, the athletes would much rather scrimmage than do drills. A three frame game is a compromise which allows the bowlers to play a game but gives the coach a chance to challenge the team to reach an immediate objective.
Mathematics says that points are worth the same no matter when they are thrown, however it is not until the last three frames that most matchplay games really come into focus. Whether the team is ahead, behind or neck and neck with the opponent it is at this time that the "pressure" really mounts. The three frame game gives the team an opportunity to practise Ďstepping it upí in the vital 8th, 9th and 10th frames.
One of the advantages of this game is that it goes quickly and tends to keep the teamís attention. It also builds an awareness of just how many points are possible to get at this late stage of the game (5 X 135 = 675). This realization can motivate a team that is behind into knowing that there are potentially enough points left to win the game and it can teach a team that it cannot coast with a lead. Most importantly, over time, teams become very comfortable with playing in these frames and that comfort and confidence transfers into competition as a valued skill.
It is not enough to have the team play the last 3 frames to see what kind of score they will get. The coach should set a goal as the type of finish that the team should be able to do. Six hundred and seventy five
(675) points is not a reasonable goal and a soon as a bowler misses a strike the teamís interest in this game evaporates. A reasonable starting spot for a National calibre Senior YBC team, a National Open team or a Tournament Masters Team could be a 400 score in the last 3 frames (80 points per bowler).
This score can be reached without need of throwing a strike. This is important to reinforce the need to pick pins and stay in the game. Three consecutive cornerpin spares with a corner on the last ball gives a score of 28 + 28 + 28 = 84. It is possible for a bowler to get 80 with a headpin in the 8th or 9th frame but not with a headpin on the first ball of the 10th. Admittedly, if the bowler punches the headpin or opens a frame, getting to 80 points will require some strikes. Even if the bowler opens the 8th and 9th, striking out in the 10th will give the bowler 75 points and a teammate will have to make up only 5 more points.
There is no need to do multiple math problems while doing the 3 frame game. We donít want to teach teams to count up possible points on each and every ball of the last 3 frames. The purpose of this illustration is to show the coach that with a skilled team 400 is a very attainable goal. It is also a rate of play that would get a team over 1300 if kept up for an entire game. No matter what the score happens to be, coaches tend to like their teams to finish strongly. Ideally, the scoring pace for the last 3 frames would be higher than that of the rest of the game. Thus bowlers can turn a grand into 1100, 1100 into a 1200 game etc.
A coach with a well skilled team may want to have the team play the 3 frame game until a score of 400 is achieved. (No matter how long that may take.) In addition, the coach may attempt to get the team to get 400 games back to back as the object of the practise. If it is obvious that the team is not going to reach the target score, the team should strive to see how close they can get. This is very important. Teaching a team not to quit when facing adversity is a valued objective of a coach. A team that will give their all when they know the goal is no longer possible is a team that will never quit on themselves in a competition.
Some coaches will run this game by including the 7th frame. The number of frames to include in the final push is left up to the philosophy of the coach. Any adjustments to the number of frames require an adjustment to the target score. This game has also been used successfully with bantam and junior YBC teams. The coaches look at the averages of the players on the team and come up with a score that is possible only if the bowlers play above their averages for the last 3 frames. The target must be possible but a stretch at the same time.
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