In bowling, and as in any sport, to perform your best and have good stamina, it’s important to be in good physical condition.Bowling itself is a great exercise because you can burn about 250 calories in an hour using an 8-16 pound ball and you can actually build some muscles in your biceps by holding the heavy ball and the quad muscles get stronger walking along the approach and holding your form after the ball is released. The exercises I have listed below help keep my fingers, arms, wrists, and legs in good shape, which in turn helps me to achieve higher scores.
1. Finger Pulling: Clasp the fingers of both hands together and try pulling them apart holding them for about 10-15 seconds
2. Tricep Stretches: Touch your back with your right hand. Then grab the back part of the elbow and pull gently for a nice stretch. Hold for about 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side. I usually do this at the lanes just before I bowl to help get my muscles loosened up and release any tension.
3. Palm Stretch: Hold your palms together and press down with your right hand and push up at the same time with the left hand. Hold for the count of 15 or 20 seconds.
4. Aerobics: Bowling is an "anaerobic" exercise meaning that you don't really sweat much while doing it so I feel it is important to get some aerobic exercises in during the week. They are a great and fun way to stay in shape and I try to do them at least 3 times a week for at least 20-30 minutes which allows me to get a good cardio workout. I used to get tired by the end of the 2nd game but now I have more stamina and energy for that 3rd game, and my score is much higher. Walking is also a great way to get exercise and easy on the joints if you're not walking really fast.
5.Ball Squeezing: Hold a small rubber ball in your right hand and squeeze it with your fingers 10 times. Then hold the last squeeze for at least 10-15 seconds. Repeat with the other hand. This gets your fingers stronger to help hold onto the ball, especially if you use a finger tip ball or plan to get one in the near future.
6. Bicep Curls: Buy a pair of 5-10 pound dumbells or some resistant bands. Lift with each hand to the count of 10 to start, then work your way up to 20 or more. You can also do some push-ups if you like. Do weight lifting every other day, because it’s important to let your muscles rest a day in between. You can do weight lifting every day if you are working different muscle groups each day.
7. Deep Knee Bends: Put your arms out in front of you and lower your body into a deep squatting position (as if you were going to sit down in a chair). Don’t let your knees go past your toes or you could injure your knees. Repeat this squat 10 times and work your way up to 20-30 repetitions. When you get good, you can hold weights in your hands and do them. This will help the quadrisep muscles to get stronger, to help you have a deep knee bend when releasing the ball onto the lane.
Try getting yourself into a good exercise routing so it becomes part of your day like brushing your hair and washing your face. You can also do some stretching, deep knee bends, and arm circles at the lanes before you begin league practice to loosen up a get some of the muscle tension out from a long day and it also helps to prevent any injuries. I know exercising will help your scores improve like they did for me. Reading my blog shows me that you are a bowler that really wants to improve, so why not get into better physical shape as well. I believe that in the long run, looking better and feeling better will also help your bowling scores to get better!
Join me next week when I will be discussing an important topic that some bowlers have no clue about, even people on leagues that should, “Bowling Etiiquette”.
Good luck and high scoring!
Now that you have practiced your timing (the walking and arm movements together) and you feel comfortable on where to stand for your strike ball, it is time to discuss the “BALL RELEASE”.
Remember to insert the fingers into the ball first and the thumb last and you can put your opposite hand under the ball to help support its weight, or rest your elbow on you hip to help support the balls weight. As you walk on the approach, remember on the slide to try to get low with a deep knee bend and have the body upright and shoulders square to the target you want to use (use the 2nd arrow as a starting point).
To RELEASE the ball, release it smoothly onto the lane as you get to the end of the slide and on the DOWNSWING when your hand is down by your left ankle. Pretend you are landing a plane and loft out onto the lane, NOT into it, as the ball will lose power if it hits the lane too hard. The THUMB comes out first, and then you can LIFT with the fingers that come out last. Remember to place the trailing foot out behind you or just slightly out to the left, and the left arm should go to the side to assist with your balance (opposite for left-handed bowlers).
The idea is to try these different hand positions on the release to see what works best for you during your practice sessions.
When lanes change from oily to dry after a game or two, you may want to use the straight hand position if the ball starts hooking too much, so you’ll have more control and more accuracy.
Take notes in your notebook during your practice sessions to help you recall what you did just before you start bowling on league nights. There’s lots to remember and easier to just review your notes from time to time.
Join me next week in discussing some exercises to help improve your stamina and strength ultimately improving your scores. Good Luck!
1. Rubber Balls They don't really make these anymore because lanes are no longer made of wood. They came in a hard or soft shell.You could probably get one at a yard sale, but most bowlers want to keep up with technology changes which helps them score higher, so today they prefer polyester or urethane bowling balls.
2. Polyester Balls-These balls have varying degrees of Hardness. Softer balls will start hooking sooner on the lane, and the harder surfaced balls will travel a bit farther down the lane before they start to hook.
3. Urethane Balls- As time passed, the makers of these bowling balls realized that it made more sense to make a ball out of the same material that the lanes were made from. This material is much stronger and the balls hit the pocket with more power, but at the same time can be more difficult to control.
There are basically three parts of a bowling ball:
2. CORE: The core of a bowling ball is a liquid polymer resin blend which is poured in and around the weight block in this second mold. The molds are all the same size, but the concentration of the materials in this liquid is what allows the weights of the bowling balls to vary. This core takes several days to completely dry. Look at your bowling ball if you have one and find the little dot which is the PIN. It shows you where the top of the core is. Then the ball is taken out of this mold and put into a third mold.
3. SHELL: The shell of the ball is made of a liquid urethane which is pumped into this third mold. This liquid can come in a variety of colors and some even add scents like lemon, and blueberry! The liquid only takes about 5 minutes to harden and then the ball is removed from the mold and ground smooth with a lathe machine. A hole is then drilled to mark the position of the weight block (Where the PIN is), and this area is filled in with a colored resin (usually yellow or white). It is also put on a machine that finds the “Center of Gravity” and indented slightly with a “punch” tool. After 24 hours, the ball is completely dried and hardened enough to have the company logo engraved which is filled in with a colored paste.
Lastly, the ball goes through spinners with hot, soapy water and polishing rollers. The completed ball is placed in a plastic bag, boxed up, and shipped out to bowling center pro shops all over the country. Some of these companies can make 5,000 balls each day!
They have a video online if you are interested in seeing what these molds and weight blocks look like.
Most bowling balls have three holes that are drilled at the pro shop for a custom fit when you purchase a ball. There was also a fourth hole drilled for balance. But as of August 1, 202 this fourth hole was declared illegal in US competition by the USBC-United States Bowling Congress. Check with your league president about this. You might need to get this weight hole filled in with a resin material at the pro shop.
Join me next week when I’ll be discussing “The Ball release”.
Good Luck and High Scoring!
Bowling is a game of “Consistency”. The more consistent you release the ball correctly, the more you stand on the correct board, and the more you release the ball correctly and get it over the correct target every time, will always add up to higher and more consistent scores! Using the same equipment every week will also help you achieve this consistency and will help you get to that desired 200 average! If you are using an alley ball right now, it has probably been difficult for you to locate that same ball every week. The best thing to do is buy these products online or visit your local pro shop (located in most bowling centers) and get the equipment you will need to get you to that next level. The pro shop is great because he/she can answer any questions you may have about any of the products listed below.
The pro will drill the finger and thumb holes to a custom fit. Sometimes the cost of the drilling is included in the price of a ball. If possible, it’s best to get a new ball several weeks before you begin a league so you will have some time to practice with it. Let the pro know if you throw a hook or not. If you don’t, you may want to learn how to throw a hook and can get a lesson or two from this professional so he/she can see the type of “Bowling Style” you have and recommend the proper ball for you (we will discuss bowling styles later on in the blog). Bowling balls vary in price, and I live by the saying “You buy cheap, you buy twice”, so I recommend getting a good ball right from the start. I will be discussing bowling balls in detail in next week's blog.
If your fingers are strong, I recommend getting a “Finger Tip Grip” drilled. This allows your fingers to be inserted only up to the first joint but will allow you to get more “Lift” on the ball when releasing it (we will discuss lift at a later time). You can also purchase a “See Saw Towel” so you can clean your ball and store it inside of it in your bowling bag.
2. Once you have the ball, next you need a good pair of “BOWLING SHOES”. They have so many nicer styles nowadays than when I first started to bowl. Some look like sneakers and are just as comfy. Sometimes i’ve seen kids trying to bowl in socks, but the lane has “Oil” on it and you could fall and get hurt, so get yourself a good pair of these special bowling shoes since you will be using them every week and for at least 2-3 hours in a bowling league. Bowling shoes have a special sole on them that allow you to slide as you release the ball to help the ball land smoothly onto the lane. Try NOT to step in any wetness while wearing them or you will stick on the lane and might go over the foul line. (If renting shoes at the bowling center, make sure you wear socks since thousands of people have worn them before you.) Shoe rental prices at bowling centers can range from $3-$4 every week, so it makes more "cents" to buy a $40 pair of shoes that only you will be wearing and after 10 weeks, they will have paid for themselves. Leagues are about 36 weeks in winter seasons and about 12 weeks in summer leagues.
3. SHOE COVERS:
These have elastic around them so you can slip them easily over your bowling then if you need to use the restroom, you won’t step in any water.
4. WRIST SUPPORT:
A wrist supporter helps the wrist to stay strong and not to “Break” or bend down when you deliver the ball onto the lane since the ball is heavy. There are several different kinds to choose from. I have always used the “Mongoose” which has a piece of metal in it for a stronger wrist support, while allowing me to be able to shift my hand in different positions for the release. Some can restrict movement of the wrist, so ask the pro at the shop to recommend a good one for you.
5. BOWLING BALL TAPE:
After you purchase a ball, the pro will drill the finger and thumb holes for you but like to drill them a tad larger which allows for occasional finger swelling. I like to use the tape so I can get just the perfect fit each time I bowl.
I use the “White Gripping Tape” in the thumb hole to help me get a more snug fit and a better grip on the ball. Just don’t make it too snug, some days you might need a few pieces and some you may not need any. To apply the tape, have a small pocket KNIFE in your bag to help you get it into the hole easier and insert with the straight side facing down toward the bottom of the hole and on the side that the inside of your thumb will be facing (so you can feel the tape as you are releasing the ball). They also sell a thinner black tape that you can use on the opposite side of the white tape so you can get the grip that feels just right for you by combining both.
6. EASY SLIDE:
In my bowling bag I keep this product on hand so if the bottom of my bowling shoes should get a little wetness on them, I can dry them with a towel and then pat the area lightly with the easy slide on the sliding shoe (left shoe if you are a right handed bowler and the right shoe if you are a lefty). If you put too much on, you may slide over the foul line.
7. ROSIN BAG:
I also recommend getting a Rosin Bag. This will help your fingers and hand to stay dry so you will be able to hold onto the ball until you are ready to deliver it onto the lane. Just hold it in your bowling hand for a few seconds to help whisk moisture away before you insert your fingers into the ball.
8. DEFENSE SKIN PROTECTOR:
Formerly called “Nu-Skin”, is a must have in your bowling bag. If you get a cut or sore on one of your bowling fingers, you can put one of the little patches on over the area with the liquid provided, . It dries very quickly and you will be able to bowl as if there was a new piece of skin on your finger because it will no longer hurt.! The patches are super thin, allowing your fingers to still fit properly into the holes in the bowling ball.
9. It is also important to have a small BOWLING TOWEL or microfiber towel in your bag to keep your hands and fingers dry. The bowling centers do provide little blowers (fans) near the ball return on each pair of lanes for this purpose, but you can use the towel. to wipe your ball off of lane oil and debris after a few shots too.
10. Bowling Ball Cleaner: Sometimes you get debris on the bowling ball that a towel just can't remove. I recommend soaking your ball in a sink with hot water and adding "Dawn liquid detergent". Let it soak for 20-30 minutes to get some of the oil out of the ball that it absorbs from the lane. That can help get some of the oil off the ball. You can also purchase special liquid cleaners at the pro shop called "Monster Tac", "Tac Up", or "Reacta Shine". You can spray these products onto a paper towel or a small regular towel and wipe the ball thoroughly. Clean your bowling ball before you bowl, you are not allowed to once the competition begins according to the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) rules. You can also clean it with a mixture of equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol or just use some windex and a towel or paper towel.
11. Lastly, you will need a BOWLING BAG to keep all of your equipment in. They sell them online or in the pro shop and can accommodate from 1-6 bowling balls! I use a 3 ball carrier to take back and forth with me to the lanes. If you are lucky enough, they do rent lockers that provide only enough space for a few bowling balls, or a 1 ball carrier. You can leave the heavy ball in it and just take you bag with your other things back and forth with you.
I also recommend getting a small spiral notebook that you can keep in your bag. You can take notes as you learn more in your practice sessions and refer to them on league days when needed. Read your notes often, especially when learning new things.
Good Luck & High Scoring!!
Join me next week when I’ll be discussing bowling balls in detail.
There are splits that are labeled “Baby Splits. They are small splits where the pins have a space the size of a bowling balls’ diameter, so you can make them by aiming the ball right in between the pins. These include the 2-7, and 3-10 pins. Notice with the 2-7 baby split, that the area where the space is, is where the 4 pin is located. The trick is to stand where you would to convert the 4 pin and throw over the same target. I have seen bowlers clip the right side of the 2 pin which hit into the 7 pin and converted the split that way, but it’s best to try to aim in between the 2 and 7 pins.
The same principal works for the 3-10 baby split. You need to aim for the 6 pin which is where the space is between the 3 and 10 pins.
There are several other splits you could wind up with on a poor executed shot or just due to poor lane conditions (which we will discuss at a later time). Two of these splits are the 5-7 and the 5-10. By now you know where to stand for the 5 pin (king pin). For the 5-7 split, you would need to hit the 5 pin on it’s right side to be able to slide it over into the 7 pin. Remember if you move to the left, your ball will go more to the right. So just move a board or two to the left at the stance and you can use the same target. The opposite goes for the 5-10 split where you need to hit the 5 pin on its left side to slide it over into the 10 pin. You will need to move a board or two to the right from where you would normally stand to hit the 5 pin.
There are other splits I haven’t discussed that you could end up with, but you get the idea on how to make them now. Whenever you are trying to convert a split, especially if you were having a good game, don’t FREAK OUT!!! You can make them as long as you stay calm and keep practicing when you can. Bowling is a game of “Consistency”. The more you convert these splits, the more confidence you will have in making them under pressure when it really counts, in the league or in a bowling tournament.
The best thing is to try to avoid getting them in the first place. Stay focused and always execute a good shot-releasing the ball smoothly out onto the lane and getting it over the correct target!
Join me next week when I’ll be discussing “Equipment”.
Good luck this week and high scoring!!
A split is when there is a space, or spaces in between pins that are left on the pin deck after you’ve thrown your first ball but didn’t make the strike. When you get a split but don’t convert it, the only way to make up for that open frame is to get a “Double” which is two strikes in a row! Let’s discuss how to convert splits and how to best avoid them.
The 7-10 split is the most difficult to convert because the pins are so far apart. One way to make it is to throw the ball hard at the left side of the 7 pin or try to hit the right side of the 10 pin and hope flies over into the other pin. It’s a pure luck shot and I saw the pro bowler, Mark Roth, make it on TV many, many years ago. He hit the 10 pin and it hit into the back wall and came flying out to get 7 other pin. It was the first time that split was ever converted on television and was so exciting to watch! Another fellow to make the 7-10 split was a fellow, Andy Varipappas who threw two balls at the same time, crossing each other to make the 10 pin and 7 pin. It would be cool to convert it this one, but you’re only allowed to throw one ball in league play.
Knowing where to stand for your 7 pin, move to the right 2-3 boards to hit the left side of the 7 pin, or if you want to hit the 10 pin on the right side, move 2-3 boards to the left of where you normally would stand for the 10 pin. Lefty’s do the opposite.
Some reasons for winding up with a split are:
Bowling is a lot like playing a game of pool. It’s all about angles. If you hit the headpin straight on, you might wind up with the 4-6-7-10 split
(Called the “Greek Church”, or “Grandmas’ Teeth”) or the 4-6 split. To make either of these splits, you must hit the very right side of the 6 pin and hope to slide it over into the 4 pin or hit the left side of the 4 pin to hit into the 6 pin. Stand 2-3 boards more to the left from where you normally would for the 6 pin because moving more to the left will make you ball go more to the right.
There are several other splits you can wind up with on a bad shot, or just due to poor lane conditions. For example, the 5-7 split, you need to hit the 5 pin on the right side to slide it over into the 7 pin. Therefore, you need to stand a few boards to the left of where you would normally stand to convert the 5 pin. The opposite will happen for the 5-10 split. This time you need to hit the 5 pin on the left side, so try standing 2 boards to the right of where you normally stand for the 5 pin it should slide over nicely hitting the 10 pin.
The 7-8 split and the 9-10 split are just a ball’s distance apart so your ball will be able to fit right in between the two pins, but you must hit it just right. Notice the 4 pins location is the pin in front of the space between the 7-8 split. So stand where you normally would to make the 4 pin, but move a board or two to the left of that to allow for the angle your ball will be coming in at. The 6 pin is the pin would be located where the space id for the 9-10 split. So stand where you would to get the 6 pin, but move a board or two to the left, again to allow for the angle the ball will be coming in at.
Join me next week for Part 2 on “How to Make Splits”.
Good luck and high scoring!!
CLUSTER SPARES: Are spares that have 3 or more pins close together.
The “KEY” or Target pin is the one you must hit in order to convert a spare successfully. If you concentrate on that one pin, you can almost ignore the other pins and still make the spare. For the more difficult spares which have a cluster of pins together, you need to focus on the KEY PIN. For example, if you are facing the 3-5-6-9 “BUCKET” spare you will need to look at and concentrate on the very back pin which is the 9 pin. If you can do that, then your four pin spare becomes an easier one pin spare! If you leave the 2-4-5-8 Bucket, then your KEY pin to focus on would be that back pin again, or the 8 pin.
If you are faced with other difficult 3 or 4 pin spares, you’ll need to figure out which is the KEY or TARGET PIN to aim for in order to successfully convert the spare. If you have four pins in a row, for example the 1-3-6-10 spare, your KEY pin to aim for will be the one CLOSEST to you. Therefore, you need to hit the 1 pin but on it’s right side, so the ball will hit into half of the 1 pin and half of the 3 pin. The 3 pin will hit into the 6, and the 6 pin hit into the 10 pin. If you leave the opposite of that spare, the 1-2-4-7 spare, the KEY pin would also be the 1 pin, but you’ll need to hit it on the left side.
If you have a two-pin spare, aim for the pin that’s CLOSEST to you. If you’re faced with the 5-9 spare for example, aim for the 5 pin. Hit it slightly to the right, since the 9 pin is to the right of the 5 pin, or if you have a cluster of three pins like the 2-4-5 or the 3-5-6, just aim for the pin closest to you.
Focusing on this “KEY” pin will help you avoid the stress of going for those more difficult spares. Try this method during your practice sessions and remember those KEY pins in each of these difficult spares. Make slight adjustments remembering to only move a board at a time to the left or right to suit the size of your hook.
Join me next week to discuss "Splits". See you then.
Double Wood Spares:
Double Wood just means that there are 2 pins left on the lane you need to convert, and one is directly in back of the other. Examples are the 2-8 and the 3-9 pins. If you only convert one of those pins it is referred to as a “Chop” or “Cherry Picking Off” the spare. If you throw a perfectly straight ball, this one may be easy for you to convert. The right handed hook bowler needs to move left because the weight of the pin will deflect the ball slightly to the right and you might miss that back pin. The left handed bowler needs to do the opposite, or move slightly more to the right. Just experiment when you are practicing to see what will work best for you according to the size hook you throw.
Join me next Monday for Part 3 of Making Spares. I'll be discussing "Cluster" and "Bucket" Spares”.
Last week we discussed the” 3-6-9” method. Today I’d like to discuss converting the 10 pin in a little more detail. The 10 pin can be a bit tricky for the right handed bowler. Your ball needs to be hooking or it can drop off into the “Gutter” or “Channel”. If you are standing on the 22nd board at the stance to convert the 1 pin for example, then you would need to stand on the 31st board to convert the 10 pin according to the 3-6-9 method, since the 10 pin is 9 boards over from the 1 pin.
When I began to bowl, I was terrible at making the 10 pin and my score was low because of it. I was getting so frustrated and decided to just talk to some of the better bowlers in my league. Two of them told me that they bought a cheap plastic ball to use for the 10 pin. I didn’t know it, but Plastic Balls do not hook, so I took their advice and went to the pro shop and purchased a plastic ball. I went practicing and just kept my palm flat and released the ball out over the middle arrow without any turn of my wrist. I started making so many more 10 pins after that and was thrilled with my higher scores! I’m not saying you must do this, but if you throw a large hook and have trouble making the 10 pin, then this may be the answer for you as well
The 5 pin, or “King Pin” as it is sometimes referred to, is in the very center of the lane. You need to aim for this pin because without hitting it, you will not be able to get the domino effect that knocks it into all the other pins, resulting in a strike. Sometimes I’ve seen people throw a large hook and barely touch the headpin (1 pin) but still manage to get the strike. The thing is, it’s NOT consistent. In bowling consistency is a huge factor in the game.
By now you should know where to stand and which arrow or board to aim at for the 1 pin. The 5 pin is directly behind it but a bit furher back on the lane. Since your ball will have a little more time to hook, you need to compensate for this by moving a few boards to the left, or on the 24th or 25th board.
You should have an idea where to stand for the 2 pin and 3 pin. Since the 8 pin is directly in back of the 2 pin, and the 9 pin is directly in back of the 3 pin, you just have to apply the same principal as you did for the 5 pin, by moving slightly left again. This should do the trick. If you try this and you miss, remember Rule # 3 from the previous week. If you miss to the right, adjust by moving to the right a board or two. If you miss to the left, move a board or two to the left. You can move at the stance, or at the arrows but be consistent.
I hope you had a chance to practice your timing at the lanes this past week, and that you have been able to remember the order in which the pins are numbered on the pin deck. Anyone can get a strike, but the bowler who consistently makes spares will end up with the highest average!!
Memorize these rules to make it easier when making your spares:
1. Moving 3 boards where you STAND on the approach equals one pin difference on the pin deck.
2. Moving your Target 2 boards at the ARROWS equals one pin difference on the pin deck.
3. Moving left on the lane will cause your ball to go more to the right, and moving right on the lane will cause your ball to go more to the left. This will be the opposite for the left handed bowler.
You can easily apply what is called the 3-6-9 Method. Knowing where to stand for your strike is important and will help you to convert the 1 pin. To the right of the 1 pin is the 3 pin. According to rule number 1, all you need to do is move 3 boards to the left of where you stand for the 1 pin to be able to convert the 3 pin. If you stand on the 22 board for example, then move left to the 25th board. Use the same target (arrow) you use for the strike. The next pin to the right of the 3 pin is the 6 pin. To convert the 6 pin, you need to adjust by moving over 6 boards from where you stand for the strike or the 28th board. As you move left, you are coming in at a larger angle so you must also move the target over to the left. Try aiming 3 boards to the left of the 2nd arrow and experiment from there. You may have to move a board or two one way of the other depending on the size of your hook. For the 10 pin, you must move 9 boards to the left of where you stand for the strike at the stance, and move your target at the arrows a few boards to the left.
To convert the pins to the left of the headpin, you must move to the right at the stance according to rule # 3. So for the 2 pin, 4 pin, and 7 pin you must apply the same rules as above. by moving to the right 3 boards from where you stand for the strike to convert the 2 pin, 6 boards to the right to convert the 4 pin, and 9 boards to the right to convert the 7 pin.Again, you need to move your target at the arrows to compensate for the larger angle.
Do your best to go the the lanes and practice this week. Try this 3-6-9 method for your spares and adjust a board or two when necessary.
Next week I'll be discussing other spares in Part 2. See you then.