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Playing to Your Weakness

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

As you progress as a bocce player, you invariably develop faster in some aspects than in others. You might notice that you like playing a short game, with the pallino up close, in order to maximize your shooting effectiveness. Or you might tend to place the palino near the sideboards and angle your lags in. It doesn’t really matter what your particular quirk is, the important thing is to realize that you’re developing a comfort zone. A routine.

Everything’s great. You feel like you’re really starting to get on top of your performance. You’re executing more consistently. You’re confident in your abilities.

Then the bottom falls out. You get clobbered, even though you’re playing to your strengths. What happened?

It’s simple. You forgot that in bocce playing well doesn’t matter.  What matters is playing better than your opponent.  You just ran into an opponent who is better at “your” game than you are, and you didn’t even notice, much less adjust.

So the next time this happens, you notice. Now what? How do you adjust?

You do the only thing you can do: play to your weakness. The trick, of course, is finding a weakness of yours that is an even bigger weakness for your opponent. If you can’t do that, pick a strategy that you think you’re somewhat decent at and that has a lot of variance and hope you get lucky. In general, that means getting away from a finesse game and into a hard-hitting shootout.