Please keep this in mind your entire bowling life.
Every shot you have ever thrown is in your head.
Every shot you have ever seen anyone else throw is in your head.
Every shot you have ever seen on television is in your head.
How can you possibly doubt such a tremendous inventory?
Your game is constantly evolving. It will not stay the same and it won't always be sharp.
Just when you think you don't have another 134 game left in you, out it comes.
Peak performance levels are cyclical. That's what causes slumps.
Bowling great doesn't last forever and neither does a slump.
It's almost impossible to hit your target if you're not looking at it.
Additionally, if you're not looking at it and you hit it, how will you know?
Since you shouldn't make an adjustment unless you've thrown the ball pretty much like you wanted to and hit what you wanted to hit, you'll also not make a good adjustment.
There may be something that will screw you up worse than adjusting off a bad shot, but I can't think what it might be.
If it's difficult for you to watch your target until the ball rolls over it, try this.
Think of your eyesight as a laser beam. Laser your target. Make it smoke!
That beam to the target will really help you stay focused. You'll be surprised how much easier it is to hit when you're looking at it!
It has probably happened to you that you are looking at your target and on the way to the foul line it just seems to blur out and you don't know if you hit it or not.
Lasering will reduce this phenomenon. It will also help eliminate the tendency to pull your eyes off the target as soon as you let the ball go.
Don't laser the second arrow. Laser the right edge of the base of it.
Looking this precisely will also help you to be more accurate because you are more focused.
If you're one of those folks who bend your elbow too early in the follow through or would like to project the ball farther down the lane on certain conditions, try this.
Hold your arm down by your side. You'll see a crease on the inside of your elbow where the elbow bends.
Think of leading the shot (your hand and ball) with this part of your elbow.
You cannot biomechanically do this, of course, unless your elbow bends the opposite way of everyone else's!
What's important is that you think lead with your elbow.
Just feel like you are trying to have this crease of your elbow leading your hand toward the target.
It will be very difficult to bend your elbow if the crease is going toward the target!
Once you've found your strike line, don't line up for your perfect strike shot.
You're not perfect, why line up like you are? Try moving one board left with your feet.
Yes, I really mean it. Line up left of perfect.
That way you'll have room to be a little light and maybe even miss slightly right.
Either way you're probably still in the hole and if you don't carry, have most likely left yourself a makeable spare.
When does the ball begin its motion? At the same time as your first step? Just before? Just after?
If you get to the foul line leveraged and in balance and can deliver the ball the way you want, it doesn't matter how you start.
What matters is that you KNOW how you start since that is what enables you to have such a good finish.
Things that are wrong at the foul line seldom go wrong at the foul line.
Something in your delivery process causes it to be wrong at the foul line.
Start at the beginning to fix it. This is true regardless of where it FEELS like it went wrong.
Something wrong in the middle of your approach is usually compensating for whatever was wrong in the beginning.
Get a bad start and you spend the rest of the approach trying to make up for it.
Your first step is the most important one you take.
Don't ignore it or take it for granted. Learn exactly what you do with this first step.
When you get in trouble or don't feel quite right, start here with your fix-it methodology.
Perhaps you slide it and you've started being a little more heel-toe than normal.
Maybe you are normally heel-toe but you've inexplicably started being much more heel-toe.
Maybe you've unconsciously shortened it or lengthened it.
Whatever the case, if you know what it does and what it feels like when it's right, you'll be able to fix it when it's wrong.
You won't believe this tip but it works for a lot of different folks.
If you're not sliding as much as you'd like and you are sure it's not the approaches or your shoes that are the problem,
tighten the entire lace on your sliding shoe.
If you're sliding too much, loosen it!
A 'tight' shot can mean many things. Most of the time, we feel a shot is tight when the lanes are oily (thus the phrase 'the lanes are tight').
Actually, a shot is tight whenever you feel you don't have much room for error.
When faced with this feeling or perception, try moving your bowling shoulder about 2°-3° forward; not both shoulders,
not your body, not the ball in your stance - just your bowling shoulder.
This will help you keep the ball on line and avoid leaking it farther right than you intended
and is not enough of a shoulder-closed position to cause you to pull the ball.
To really improve your consistency, try this: close your eyes after your second step.
Once you close your eyes the imprint on your mind will be of whatever you saw last - in other words, your target!
It becomes your whole focus and you'll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to hit it.
After you've let the ball go, open your eyes. You'll see the ball roll right over that target.
When you are used to the feeling of closing your eyes and you accept you're not going to step off the edge of the flat earth, you'll be able to concentrate on other things.
You can really FEEL your armswing or release or cadence or slide or power step or whatever you have chosen to concentrate on for that shot.
A very eye-closing experience!
Always pick up your ball from the ball return with both hands.
Picking up your ball using your grip holes fatigues the hand unnecessarily and can cause excessive swelling.
The difficult skills needed for bowling must be acquired through learning and continued practice over a long period of time.
The mechanics of the sport are complex and diverse.
Dedicated players will find they peak after several years and often find they are still improving after their "prime" athletic years.
That's why bowling is truly a lifetime sport.
Solid 8 pins, ringing 10 pins, and swishing 7-10's are just as much a part of the game as Brooklyn strikes, messenger pins or rolling the bucket for a strike.
Don't get crazy over it! Over the long haul the player who makes the best shots will win.
It's just that the 'long haul' is not always a league night...
Always be ready to bowl when it is your turn. If you're not, it disturbs the rhythm and pacing of the game for everyone including those leagues which follow you.
It is usually true that the longer in between shots, the more inconsistent you become.
A good rule to follow is that when the pins are ready, so are you!
Hold your position at the line until the ball leaves the pin deck.
This does not mean that you should look like the Statue of Liberty but that all of your body is still
after you have delivered the ball EXCEPT your bowling arm.
It is swinging back and forth and will eventually stop without your help.
Several good things happen when you do this:
You will often find a new strike line throwing your 2 pin or your 3 pin shot.
Don't ignore your ball reaction in this part of the lane. It could be a real strike mine!
Throwing a ball that is too light for you can be as hurtful to your game as throwing a ball that is too heavy.
A ball which is too light will allow you to do things you shouldn't.
A ball which is too heavy will prevent you from doing things you should.
I don’t think that ‘10% of your body weight’ thing is valid.
I believe that ball weight is determined by athleticism.
If I have a 150 lb person who is 5 feet tall and a 150 lb person who is 6 feet tall, I have two very different individuals when it comes to athleticism and strength.
10% might work for one but not the other and no, they don't make 18 lb balls!
For kids, some believe that the majority of the population can bowl their age –
a seven-pound ball if they are seven years old or an 11-pound ball if they’re 11 years old.
Remember there will always be the exception…
Try to make your approach as smooth and fluid as possible - no roboty moves or herky-jerky looks.
Don't walk like you are stepping over rose bushes! You also, however, cannot sacrifice form for results.
There are no style points in bowling.
It's just easier to do it more consistently if you keep it simple.
The more moving parts you have, the more complicated the fix when something goes wrong.
It is usually best to line up in your starting stance with your sliding foot.
It’s the one that finishes at the foul line and therefore the important one in terms of body alignment.
Make it a part of your pre-shot routine that when you step up on the approach to take your starting stance, you slide your sliding foot onto your starting board.
If you have stepped in anything wet or have something on the bottom of your shoe, you want to know that now, not up at the foul line.
If you don’t get in this habit and do step in something, you might find yourself recovering consciousness out by the arrows!
Don’t take the chance of sticking at the foul line and hurting yourself (which you can do whether you fall or not).
Your trailing leg is important as well. If you kick it with some vigor behind you, it can tend to open up your hips and causes you to face away from your objective.
If it goes too far in the direction you moved it and you don't bend your sliding knee enough,
you'll be forced to stand up at the foul line to avoid injuring your sliding knee, as it is not a rotating joint. It only bends, not rotates.
Your trailing knee can be further laterally if your sliding knee is more bent.
Otherwise, you could have that 'pretzel' look at the foul line!
Keep your trailing foot on the ground.
A good finish position would have your trailing knee behind your sliding knee and separated by 6"-8" at about a 45º angle to your body.
This will provide you with a very stable and balanced position.
If your trailing knee is closer to your sliding knee than that, it's difficult to keep your balance.
Think of a tripod. With the legs together, it topples.
Spread them apart a bit and your tripod becomes very stable. Spread them too far apart...
More hook does not mean more strikes.
You must have the proper angle, speed, and rotation to carry a strike.
If any of these components is off by a millimeter, a 1/2 mph, or half a revolution, your carry percentage goes down.
Don't be fooled into thinking more speed or more hook will do more to the pins.
When a round object (the ball) hits a round object (the belly of the pin), funny things can happen...
Replace your finger grips whenever they become worn.
Some people do that about every 60 games and some much more often.
When they are worn, they won't afford you that same good feel you had when they were new.
Use yellow (the first color the human eye notices) or white or some light color that you can easily see rolling down the lane.
This will help you to watch the roll of the ball and learn how different releases can affect ball roll and therefore pin action.
You will not ever be able to release the ball in a consistent and effective manner if it doesn't fit.
Bowling is not supposed to hurt. A ball properly fitted to your hand will not cause injury.
If you only bowl once a week, you might not notice that your fit is incorrect.
But what happens once a year when you go to the state or city tournament and you bowl six games in a day?
If your hand, fingers, or shoulders are sore, get your fit checked by an IBPSIA Certified Pro Shop Technician.
An improperly fitted ball can cause severe tendon damage in your fingers and elbow.
The ball is supposed to swing your arm. Your arm does not swing the ball.
If your ball doesn't fit right, you tend to squeeze it so you don't drop it or to muscle the ball instead of allowing it to free-fall into your swing.
These compensations for a bad fit can cause shoulder problems and prevent a consistent execution of the shot.
There can be pain on the inside of the elbow or the outside of the elbow or down the forearm or in the wrist.
This is both frustrating and painful and it doesn't have to be that way if the ball fits your hand like it should.
Bowling etiquette is important to your enjoyment of the sport as well as others enjoyment.
Don't ever put your hand in another person's ball.
The feel of the bowling ball on the hand is a very personal thing as well as part of great execution.
You wouldn't want someone who uses rosin or slick powder to put his or her hand in your ball and leave a residue.
If it's s not your towel, don't touch it.
No telling what's on it that could get on your hand.
When your ball comes back, don't reach onto the ball return
to get it until the folks on either side of you have started their approach.
They can see that movement peripherally and it can be very distracting.
When someone on either side of you is ready to begin their approach, don't rerack.
Wait until they have delivered their shot to press the reset button.
The pins being reset are in their line of vision.
Put your hand in your ball to make sure it fits today.
Some people swell as they bowl and some shrink.
There is never a reason to make bad shots thinking that as soon as you swell up your thumb will fit and everything will be wonderful.
You've gotten a bad read off those shots and wasted your effort.
Tape is much much cheaper than playing the wrong shot. If it's cold outside,
your thumb is probably small and you might need to add tape until it swells.
If it's hot and humid, your thumb might be big today.
Your thumb size can change but your thumbhole cannot.
The size of the thumbhole is easily regulated with tape.
Since we can never afford to give shots away and normally your opponent is not going to wait for you to figure it out,
it seems a good plan to put a piece of tape in, make good shots, get a good read, swell up and take the tape out.
Another important loosen up technique in to put your hand all the way in the ball and swing it back and forth three or four times.
Your thumb feels one way in a ball not in motion and entirely another in the swing.
Don't let the first time your shoulder feels the weight of the ball to be when you mean it.
Your first shot should be about ¼ speed. By about the 5th or 6th shot you should be up to full speed.
No athlete in any sport starts out at full speed. That's what warming up is all about,
gradually allowing your body to get into the athletics of your sport.
(I've often thought I could have a lucrative part-time job throwing everyone's first three shots.)
I see this constantly and wish I didn't see it at all, ever.
It causes so many problems - poor roll, squeezing the ball, killing the shot, dropping the ball, no backswing, grunting at the foul line, etc.
Unless you are making a rather sophisticated adjustment, you should always put your thumb completely in the ball.
Sometimes people are afraid of sticking in the ball and don't put their thumb all the way in.
Your hand was measured by your pro shop professional and your span gauged with your thumb all the way in.
If you don't put it all the way in, you won't be able to free swing the ball, will have to control it,
and the pins always know when your armswing is tight.
Whether you put your fingers or thumb in the ball first, doing the opposite will usually
have you feeling like the ball was drilled for someone else!
Super tip - This sometimes works well for straightening the ball out for your spare shots. other article.
Bowling is a sport. You are an athlete involved in this sport even if you only do it recreationally.
Proper dynamic warm up before you bowl will help prevent injury.
The ball should contact the lane as though it were an airplane landing.
Cramming the ball INTO the lane instead of laying it ONTO the lane
creates a very poor and inconsistent roll besides causing lane damage.
That's why knee bend is so important. You've got to get your body into a position to lay the ball down.
The more upright you are, the higher the position of the ball for delivery.
Banging the ball on the lane is loud, embarrassing, and kills the roll.
Other than that, it's a good idea.
Make sure your stance is comfortable and will allow you the easiest position from which to start your approach.
A comfortable athletic stance includes the knees flexed 4" or so, the spine tilted slightly forward by moving the hips back,
and the ball held close to the body with your bowling arm never outside of your bowling shoulder.
There is a big difference between being in control and being in charge.
If you alphabetize your canned goods, you're probably an over-controller.
We've all had bosses who were controllers.
You felt like no matter what you did the scrutiny would be ominous.
You tried to be perfect in everything you did.
You checked and rechecked your work to avoid being wrong and you were always uptight when your work was being reviewed.
If you've ever had a boss who was in charge, you know the difference.
Your creative juices would flow, your work output was greater, the quality of your work superior.
When the boss reviewed it, the suggestions for improvement, if any, were just that - suggestions, not criticisms.
In bowling, if you are controlling, you are uptight and will cause your efforts to fail. You try too hard to be perfect, to look great, to hit your target exactly.
And it never works! But, if you are in charge, your approach flows, your swing is free and natural, and your accuracy incredible. Be in charge, not in control!!
Tucking the pinky of your bowling hand to the first knuckle can cause the ball to hook a little more.
When you first try this, it might feel as if you're going to drop the ball. Keep after it.
You'll learn to do it and find that it gives you an alternative ball reaction.
You might want to wear an adhesive bandage across that knuckle for a while as a callous might develop. Keep in mind this is an adjustment.
If your ball is hooking too much or too soon, untuck! You also might want to untuck it on your spare shots.
One caution here about tucking the pinky. With some people, tucking the pinky can put strain on the ring finger.
If you try this and notice your ring finger beginning to hurt, either have your pro shop professional shorten the ring finger span very slightly
(for instance, by 16ths until the pain stops) or stop tucking. The added hook potential is not worth an injury.
Opening and closing your shoulder can indeed generate more speed but it certainly can cause some unique problems and complications to your game as well.
If you don't get it closed in time, the ball is late in the swing. If you close it too early, you'll pull the ball.
To help keep your wrist firm, try pressing the tip of the index finger of your bowling hand hard against the ball.
This will keep your wrist firm without tightening up your whole arm.
Your non-bowling arm is almost as important as your bowling one.
It helps provide balance.
Your non-bowling hand usually comes off the ball at the apex of your ball start.
The textbook (which, by the way, does not bowl) says you should not get the that arm behind your body.
Tell this to WRW Jr. or to Carolyn Dorin-Ballard,
both of whom have their non-bowling arm about 90º to their back at the finish position.
Do what works!
Another very important component of the non-bowling arm is the position of the thumb.
If your thumb is up at delivery, there could be a tendency to roll the shoulder forward.
It is usually more effective to have the thumb down.
Check which one you do and then try it the other way.
You will find turning the thumb up or down can give you some options you didn't know you had!
If you want to get the ball into an earlier roll than normal, target the dots, which are usually 7' out on the lane rather than the arrows.
The first time you try this you might feel like these dots are right in your face by the time you get to the foul line.
They're not, of course, but it is how you feel.
Be careful not to allow your head and torso to go down when learning to look at the dots.
Your head and shoulders must still say up.
It is more important that you practice frequently than that you practice for long periods of time.
Thirty minutes a day will get you closer to your long-term goals faster than 2½ hours on Sunday.
Take breaks while you practice, at least a minute every ten.
Get a drink or sit down and plan your next few minutes. Just step away and get a different perspective.
Practice tasks in segments. Mindless, undirected practice is unproductive.
Never keep score in practice. If you're keeping score, winning matters.
If winning matters, you're not practicing.
Have specific goals you want to accomplish in your practice sessions.
Five minutes on the feel of a good push off, five minutes on follow through and
you don't think about your push off in the follow through time slot.
Your foundation must be built on the bricks of individual components -
strong and linked together with repetition and muscle memory.
We don't want a foundation built on sand that will crumble under the slightest pressure.
May all your corner pins fall!!