I bowl with my right hand, so the following information will be instructions for a RIGHT HANDED BOWLER. Just do the opposite if you are a left handed bowler.
Type your name into the computer, and the lane will automatically turn on. When not bowling in a league, you are in "Open Bowling" and there are no free practice frames allowed. You can throw the ball a few times anyway to make sure you can throw and release the ball comfortably. If it's too light or too heavy, just go get a different ball.
Now, without using your ball, walk up to the foul line and then turn around and face away from the pins. Take one large step, and 4 more regular steps like you do when normally walking. Stop and look down. This is where you will stand when you first begin to bowl for a "Five-Step Approach". You could take a "Three-Step Approach" or "Four Step Approach" if you prefer but I have tried all three and came to the conclusion that five works best for me.
**To begin, place the Center of your left foot on the center board of the lane which is approximately the 20th board or 5th DOT counting them from right to left (left to right for the left handed bowler). Now facing the pins and without your ball, bend your knees slightly. Walk this "Five-Step Approach" with a good push away on the fourth step to get a little speed, and then slide on the last step to slide. Stop at the foul line but do NOT go over it. (In league play, going over the foul line would result in a foul and the pins you may have knocked down will NOT be counted). Repeat this several times so you can get the FEEL of how the timing will be with your footwork and arm swing.
**Again, pretending to hold your ball, rest your elbow on your right hip (so you don't have to feel all the weight of the ball once you are using the real ball) and swing your arm very slightly out to the right side to allow for BODY CLEARANCE when the ball comes down next to you as your arm comes down and into the swing (the Downswing). Get in the habit of holding it the same way distance out each time for consistency. You don't want to have it close to your body one time and then a little farther out the next. CONSISTENCY is the key in getting a high average!! You can also support some of the weight of the bowling ball with your left hand under it if you prefer.
**Bend your knees slightly and keep them in that position throughout all of your steps, and try to walk as straight as possible.
STEPS: This will be for a five step approach.
1. Take the first step with your left foot (right for the left handed bowler) and do nothing with the arm holding the pretend ball.
2. On your second step, pretend to push the ball away from the body out and in front of you, letting the weight of the ball come down naturally, without forcing it.
3. On the third step, the arm should be straight down next to your body.
4. On the fourth step, the arm should be in back of the body and at the height of the backswing (about shoulder height) and give a little more push with the right foot to pick up some speed. The left arm should go slightly out to the side to help with your balance.
5. On the last step, the ball comes down from the backswing and is RELEASED when it is near your left ankle. The left foot should have a nice slide as you release the ball. Keep that left arm out to the side, and the right foot should be in back of you or out SLIGHTLY to the left side also to assist in your balance.
**After the ball release, continue to bring your arm upwards toward the ceiling and touch your back. You need to have a smooth release as if you are landing a plane. If you just pitch the ball out there into the lane, the ball will lose some of it's momentum and some of the power behind it by the time it reaches the pins which are sixty feet away.
Do this motion several times so you can get the feel of the timing with the arm and feet. The arm swing should mimic the pendulum on a grandfather clock. When you start to feel comfortable with the motions, do it a few more times but look down at the foul line to make sure your left foot is on the same dot that you started on. That will indicate that you are walking fairly straight along the Approach.
When your timing feels comfortable, try these steps and arm motions using the real ball aiming for the second arrow as a starting point. Insert FINGERS into the ball first and the thumb last. The idea is to get a STRIKE (getting down all ten pins) on the first try. The right handed bowler needs to get the ball into the 1-3 area of the pins (the 1-2 area for the lefty or left handed bowler). This is called the "Pocket". The picture below shows how the pins are numbered on the pin deck.
Please memorize this so when I begin to discuss spares and Certain Pin numbers, you will know exactly where they are located. The 1-pin is darkened in the photo.
If you want a four step approach, begin your walk on the approach with the right foot and on the first step you must push the ball away from body and feel a smooth rhythm, and finish with a nice slide on your left foot.
Join me next week on Part 1-"How to make SPARES". I hope to see you then!
Good Luck and High Scoring!!
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Hello!! My name is Joanie. Although I'm not a professional bowler, I have loved the sport for more than 45 years, averaged over 200 for several seasons, and learned quite a bit with research and experience.