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How do you improve your bowling throw?

bowling throw
File photo credit: SportSG

MASTER YOUR BOWLING TECHNIQUE (1): THE THROW

No matter your bowling style, the key to bowling a high score is consistency, consistency, consistency.

Professional bowlers train for hours every day to build a routine – from their stance, to their footwork, to their swing and finally the eventual release – leaving lane conditions and pin positions as the only variables.

Once you go into a routine, bowling a high score can be boiled down to three main factors: building muscle memory, perfecting your aim, and adjusting for the variables.

Building a Bowling Routine

Every bowler has a different routine to his or her game. While most of it is physical, many bowlers also have unique quirks to prepare themselves mentally and focus for their shot. 

A pre-shot routine is a set of actions that you do before you throw the ball. Typical pre-shot routines include drying your hands, wiping the ball, taking slower breaths etc. 

When you watch the pros, try to take note of what they do before each shot. You should notice that if they wipe the ball for one shot, they will more than likely wipe the ball for every other shot. This consistency is to mentally prepare him/herself for the next part of the game.

With your pre-shot routine out of the way, the next thing to perfect is your starting position or stance. Again, every bowler may have a unique stance, so make sure that you’re comfortable and stick to the same stance for every shot. Most importantly, you should straighten your shoulders to keep them stable.

The next phase of the game – the approach – requires good timing and coordination. Most professional bowlers tend to use a 5-step approach, but beginners are more likely to be comfortable with a 4-step approach. 

The key is to keep your shoulders square to the front, your head up, arm swing smooth, and your pace consistent and even. Take steps that match your normal walking stride and develop a consistent balance for precise deliveries.

During the approach, keep your hand and wrist strong. During your penultimate step, your bowling hand should then go into the backswing, to build power and forward momentum for the ball. Your shoulders should still face forward at this point, while your backswing should be as straight as possible.

Put all the components — timing, hand-and-wrist positioning, steps, speed, and power — together for a clean approach. If your approach is off, your throw may be as well.

The release is the final and most critical part of your throw. At the point of release, make sure the ball is in front of you not behind you. Roll the ball forward, rather than throwing or dropping it. Again, make sure that your release is consistent for every shot. 

Training Tip: You can practice all these steps even when you’re not at the alley. Visualise going through the routine consistently and replicate the steps over and over at home.

bowling steps

Image credit: http://www.bowlingadvisor.com/

Perfecting Your Aim

Once you’ve had a consistent routine, the key to a high score is knowing how to aim. 

You may notice that your bowling lane is marked with dots and arrows. Also, if you do a count, you would realize that there are 39 smaller wooden panels on the lane. These are to help you calculate the angle and direction of your throw.

Bowling Lane

Image credit: http://www.bowlingquest.com/

The first two sets of dots (where you collect the ball) are where you should start your bowling stance. Take note of which dot your feet starts at. 

As you approach the foul line, the next set of dots indicates where you release the ball. Once again, take note of your release position.

Once you’ve released the ball, it should pass through the next set of dots and the set of arrows. Pay very close attention to which dots and arrows it passes through. 

Depending on your throw, you can calculate at this point, how many panels your ball moves through before hitting the pins. For instance if your ball moves 5 panels right from the dots on the lane to the arrow, you can then adjust your starting position and release point to make your next shot. Of course, this only works once you’ve built a consistent routine and throw.

Adjusting For Variables

Lane conditions can change from alley to alley. But once you’ve mastered your routine and aiming, you can observe how much your ball moves before changing your starting position and release point accordingly.

And that’s how the pros get high scores! Remember: keep practicing for consistency!

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