[thechat] Bowling tips

Luther, Ron Ron.Luther at hp.com
Mon Nov 11 10:01:21 CST 2002

Hi Madhu,

Only too glad to help!

It's a game of consistency and adjustments my friend.

The first step is developing consistency. Consistency in your
approach, consistency in your form, consistency in your release,
and consistency in your target.

* Standing in the same place [1], releasing the ball in the same
way, and rolling the ball over the same target. This is what will
make you a better bowler because only then you can you begin to
make adjustments for local conditions.

[Again - assuming you are right handed.]

* Approach.  I agree with David on the 4-step approach, this means
you finish up by sliding on your left foot, knee bent, shoulders
square to the foul line, back straight, head up, arm [like a
pendulum], release slightly forward of arm straight down, follow
through and 'shake hands' with the head pin.  [This is the 'textbook'
classic bowling form.  You can be successful with other forms - but
you have to be consistent.]

* Line.  The most common line is a gentle curve. The ball rolls over
the second arrow from the right hand gutter and gently arcs back into
the 1-3 pin pocket.  Try bending your wrist in a bit and keep it that
way throughout the approach and release - see how you ball moves in
a gentle curve to the left now?

-- Tips. "Light? Move Right!"  Let's say you are now a consistent
bowler, you can throw the same ball over the same target in the same
way time after time. If you find that you're hitting "light" in the
pocket - driving the ball more into the 6 pin than the 1-3 then you
need to move your feet.  Try moving your feet 1/2 board to the right,
throw the same ball over the same target - it will come more strongly
into the pocket.  [Obvious corollary - If you are hitting too "high",
dead into the headpin, try moving your feet 1/2 a board to the left.
Throw the ball the same way, it will now come in a little lighter
and you may get those strikes.]  This is also how you 'adjust' for
shoot spares.

-- Tip 2.  Use the whole alley.  If you leave a 10 pin tap, shoot
cross-alley to pick up the spare. {Line up with your feet very very
close to the left hand gutter - roll the ball directly over the
central arrow.} Do not try to "tightrope" the ball along the right
hand gutter.  The cross-alley shot is MUCH more consistent and
dependable. Similarly for a 7 pin. Use the whole width of the lane.

** Common mistakes.  (1) Following through by bringing your arm
across your body. This is bad.  If you are consistently throwing
the ball into the left gutter, this may be the cause.  (2) Bringing
the ball behind your back.  This is also bad. If you are consistently
throwing the ball into the right gutter you may be pulling the ball
behind your back on your backswing. You want the arc of your arm to be
straight and parallel to the alley. Like a pendulum.  (3) Throwing
too hard.  Accuracy is waaaaay more important than ball speed.  Don't
try to throw too hard. I generally throw mid-speed, about 14.4 mph.
There is no need to throw the ball 20-25 mph, it's going to tire you
out and be much harder to control.  End-over-end roll is important.
If you throw too hard the ball will slide down the alley instead of
rolling, the ball will not have as much angular momentum as it makes
contact with the pins and you won't get good pin action. (4)
Squeezing the ball. Keep your hand 'relaxed'. Wrist slightly
(or more) bent. Arm relaxed but straight. Squeezing the ball gives
you more of a tendency to 'pull' your arm across your body.

*** An 11 pound ball?  Ouch!  That's gonna be tough to be good with.
An 11 pound ball doesn't get you the momentum you need to get good
'pin action'.  Light balls are not very 'forgiving' - placement has
to be pretty much perfect for a strike. {Especially if you are
throwing a straight ball - that's a very narrow angle into the
pocket which makes VERY hard to get a strike.  By curving the ball
you hit the pocket at a lower angle and get more pin action - and often
better scores. Light balls tend more to bounce off pins than drive though
them.  If you can, try to work with at least a 14 pound ball. 15
would probably be best.  [The next time I buy a ball I'll probably
move down to a 15 pounder from my current 16.]

(Currently averaging 190-something.)

[1] A decent bowler has at least 3 'spots'. One they stand in for
their first ball - their 'strike' ball, one for converting a 7 pin,
and one for converting a 10 pin spare. Three different places to
put their feet when they are starting, three different marks to
roll the ball over.  Get these 3 'spots' down and you will be a
better bowler!

-----Original Message-----
From: Madhu Menon [mailto:webguru at vsnl.net]

Could you American mates give me some pointers on how to
get good scores in bowling? For reference, I have a relatively small hand
with relatively fatter fingers, and I usually use a size 11 bowling ball.

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