Shhh! It's a Secret #1

Here's one of the most  important bowling tips I know:

If I had to pick one big secret in bowling, it would be body alignment. If you don't get your body lined up correctly to execute the shot in your mind, you won't be able to execute that shot. If you are lined up correctly and aren't a highlight film getting to the line, you still have an excellent chance of succeeding or at least not paying a supremely high price for less-than-perfect. If you are not lined up properly and you execute flawlessly, it won't matter. Proper body alignment can even cover up some execution mistakes, the same way a throw-it-like-you-mean-it follow through will cover up some errors. Keep in mind the explanation of this secret will generally only apply to strokers and rollers. Power players use a modified version to get the job done that will be discussed later.

A shot cannot be executed properly if you walk a different path to the foul line on every shot. Walk the direction of your projection. This means that you always try to walk parallel to your ball path. If you are playing down the boards (a shot which goes in the same direction as the boards) and you started on 20, you should finish very close to 20.

If, however, you are playing an away shot which is also known as out-and-in, bellying, and swinging the ball, you should slide toward the outside. This is not drifting. You are walking a straight line; it's just not straight with the boards. It is walking parallel to your intended ball path. Think of the path you walk and your intended ball path as being railroad tracks!

How close you finish to where you started on an away shot depends on the severity of the angle you are playing. If you are only bellying the ball a couple of boards, you will probably end up at the foul line very close to the board on which you started. But if you're trying to send the ball from 15 at the arrows out to the 2 board, you will have created more of an angle on the lane, therefore you need more of an angle on the approach. However, even that 15 to 2 shot doesn't allow you to walk ten boards in the direction you're throwing. To walk ten boards and throw the ball on the angle that creates would require a very wide lane indeed. Try this experiment. Without a ball in your hand and without looking down at your feet, stand on the approach and move wherever you need to move to feel that you could throw a shot which crosses 15 at the arrows and gets to the 2 board at the far end of the splice. Move your feet wherever they need to be do this. Pretty steep angle, huh? You are probably far left on the approach of the next lane. Ignore the feeling the ball might be going in the channel. This is only an alignment exercise.

Now let's say the ball is not going to get to the 2 board until halfway down the lane. You should find yourself moving more toward the lane on which you are playing and, if you are doing this exercise on the right lane, may even feel the perfect alignment for this shot would be standing on top of the ball return!

What if you don't want the ball to the two board until 45 feet down the lane? Ah, big exhale here. This looks more reasonable. Keep in mind that EVERY one of these three shots was at 15 at the arrows and the 2 board. The difference is always WHEN the ball got to the 2 board. That is what changed your angle.

Once you have your feet where you think they need to be, rotate your shoulders and hips until you feel like you would miss right and then rotate enough to feel like you'd miss left, all without moving your feet. Somewhere in between is the correct body alignment.

You can now see different angles on the lane and how getting your body alignment correct can make the shot look doable and even easy. It also points out the importance of having a line in your mind so that you can get your body aligned to execute that visualization.

How much you walk in the direction of your projection depends on that projection. You cannot walk straight with the boards and send the ball to the outside without affecting your armswing. Walk your lines. It's essential to keeping your armswing in the groove to enable you to make consistent shots.

As a right-hander shooting a 10 pin, you don't line up on the left side of the lane and walk toward the 7 pin and then throw your arm out to the right toward the 10 pin. You angle your body toward the 10 pin and then walk on that angle toward the objective. It is not a very steep angle. You should only end up at the foul line a couple of boards right of where you started and ever so slightly facing the right corner of the pin deck. That means if you start on 35, you end up on 33 or 32, not on 20. You don't walk to the middle of the lane. It's just a slight angle. An away shot is no different. You walk a path parallel to the ball path you have in your mind.

It is possible not to do this on an away shot and be successful. Power players tend to have a crossover step. They line up farther right than a stroker, walk left, usually with a crossover step, and realign their shoulders and hips to match the projection. When throwing the ball out and in, power players sometimes end up farther left than they started due to this crossover step/open shoulder style. It works for them because they get the shoulders and hips realigned to make a "T" to the line they're playing. They sometimes have a tough time learning to point the ball, however.

When you have to point the ball (go up the boards or crossing boards from right to left for a right-hander), you will finish left of where you started because you are projecting the ball left. When you are shooting a 7 pin, you don't line up on the right side of the lane and then walk toward the 10 pin pulling the ball across your body to make it go left. You angle your body slightly toward that left corner making a "T" with your shoulders and hips to the line you intend to throw. You walk a straight line that is angled toward the left side of the lane. The same is true of a strike shot; your angle is just less severe.