While professionals make it look easy, bowling can be rather intimidating - especially for a beginner. It seems relatively simple: throw the ball down the lane and hit the pins. While that is true, there are many variables that go into a perfect strike when you’re bowling. Throughout this article, I will provide tips for your bowling approach to ensure you’re prepared when you step to the foul line.
Where to Stand?
It may seem minute, but where you stand when throwing the ball down the lane can be a huge factor. Roughly stand 2 inches from the foul line and then take 5 steps back. These 5 steps will allow you to generate enough momentum when the ball is released from your hand. Now that you’ve placed your feet, ensure your left foot is at lined up with the center dot for right-handed bowlers (holding the ball in your right hand) and ensure your right foot is lined up with the center dot for left-handed bowlers (holding the ball in your left hand).
You’ll notice that professional bowlers will line up in different areas behind the foul line. They are using curves and different speeds that work for them. For your basic approach, use the aforementioned method for early success.
Holding The Ball
Now that you’re feet are set, we are going to talk about your actual bowling approach. What I mean by this is your method on getting the ball from your hand to the pins down the lane.
Firstly, you’re going to need a bowling ball if you’re going to rack up the points! Picking up the ball with your bowling hand, place your thumb in the thumb hole. After you have done that, place your middle and ring fingers in the remaining holes. It’s going to seem unorthodox at first, but this is the most conventional way to hold a bowling ball.
The ball is in your hand and you’re away from the foul line. What’s next? Well, now it’s time to bowl the ball! If you’ve ever seen a pendulum swing, then you know the method in which the ball will go from your hand down the lane.
Bowling the Ball
Starting with the ball waist high (use two hands when holding the ball at this point) you’re going to break your two hands. Not literally. By breaking, I mean your dominant or throwing hand will start the movement by taking the ball down and behind you. Like a pendulum, you’re going to swing the ball down, back and then forward. While a pendulum doesn’t go down, it certainly has that swinging motion.
When the ball goes forward after initially going down and back, this is the point where you will release the ball. The ball shouldn’t be too high off the lane, so make sure to be athletic and use your entire body in your bowling approach.
Don’t forget, while doing this, you’re using momentum to make your way to the foul line. Time your stance so when you are about to release the ball, you’re not flat - footed and are standing on your left foot for a righty and right foot if you’re left handed.
The image above breaks down what I said into a picture form. As mentioned, you’ll notice the bowler is using his legs and momentum to generate power.
Eyes on the Prize
The physical methods of bowling are locked down by now. But, there are still a few tips that you can add to your approach.
Don’t take your eyes off the pins! You may not notice it, but keeping your eyes on the target will help your body move in sync naturally towards where you want the ball to go. Your mechanics need to be precise as well, but keeping your eyes locked will do wonders for your game.
The Mental Game
Whether you’re bowling with friends or in competition, professional bowlers will tell you the mental approach is as big as the physical bowling approach. When you’re gearing up to knock down the pins, you need to be in the right frame of mind. As you prepare to do the physical movements, in your head you should be focused on your mechanics and the task at hand. Remaining calm and relaxing your nerves, as well as staying focused is an important factor of your game.
There will be times where the ball doesn’t go where you want it or you miss your shot - it happens. Watch any bowler and you’ll see frustration eventually. Things will not be perfect. If you can mentally handle the fact that it won’t go perfectly every time, you’re on the right track.
Face Your Fears
My last tip for your approach is something a bowler at any stage of their bowling career can use. Don’t be afraid. Everyone is going to make mistakes at some point. If you think about failure you’re going to fail! Keep a clean, positive mind and it will help you in the long run.
These tips for your bowling approach will help you every time you step to a lane. In layman terms, bowling is bowling a ball down a lane and hitting an object. As you can see, it’s much more than that! Now that you have your approach, you can continuously work on your game.