One of the most common things that will occur on a bowling lane is someone sticking on the approach. In some of the cases, the person will fall and possibly suffer an injury. The other bowlers on the same lanes are generally not affected and will continue with their regular games.
More often than not, however, the affected bowler is “snake-bit” and their game is thrown off because they are now tentative on the approach and will lose their rhythm. They either don’t recover from the sticking incident and end up bowling a lousy series, or it takes them at least half-a-game or so to get over it. It has happened to me, albeit, during the early stages of my bowling “career,” so I know the feeling.
Some sticking accident injuries I have personally seen are broken ankle, broken arm, broken rib, and numerous bruises on various parts of the body. When a bowler falls on the lane, there is no predicting what part will hit first. Because of my cautiousness about sticking on the lane approaches, I have never personally stuck during any of my bowling sessions.
I see so many bowlers who don’t bother to check the approach. I guess they believe that the floors and carpeting in bowling centers are kept clean all the time so they don’t have to worry about it. The really serious accidents happen only a small percentage of the time so people, more than likely, don’t pay too much attention to it.
While water, spilt drinks, and food/snacks are the major causes of sticking on the approaches, I’d like to mention the rare case of when someone perspires and their sweat drips off their body onto the approach.
Constantly checking the approach to make sure I do not stick has been a habit of mine for over forty years. Anytime I get ready to bowl, be it practice or competition, my pre-start routine before the lanes are turned on includes testing the approached to make sure I can slide properly. Here it is by-the-numbers:
1) Make sure both my soles are free of any debris – water, tape, gunk, etcetera.
2) With my ball cradled in my left arm, and from about 2 feet to 3 feet behind the foul line, I check my sliding foot at the middle (large dot) and far-right and far-left portions of the lane approach.
Note: I believe you can guess as to why I carry my bowling ball when testing the approaches; but, I am of the opinion that, “I bowl with a ball, therefore, I test with a ball.”
3) Quickly scan the settee and spectator sitting areas for any tell-tale signs of water, popcorn, discarded tape, and powder so that I can clean it up or at least be aware to stay away from where they are.
4) If I walk away from the immediate area, I always check at least the sole of my sliding shoe and, more often than not, take a quick practice slide at the foul line upon my return.
Obsessive Compulsive Behavior? Paranoia? I prefer to think of it as a safety measure that is necessary to prevent any chance of injury to myself. I don’t think reminding people to check the approaches can be over-emphasized.