How annoying is it, knowing that you threw what you thought to be a beautiful shot and see a 7 or 10 pin staring back at you or even a dreaded split? Well you're not alone because it happens to the best of us and can be downright frustrating! Bowling is a game of angles and even though you thought you threw a great shot, there is a reason the strike did not carry. If you feel like you’ve been getting robbed a lot, try not to get too angry because you’ll only do worse.
Here is a photo of the path the bowling ball should take as it hits the pocket and makes its' way through the pin deck. Remember to use you eyes to follow that path:
When you hit the pocket, you may hit it LIGHT or HIGH. A LIGHT hit means that you hit the 1 pin more on the right side so the 3 pin hits into the 10 pin and the ball exits the pin deck slightly to the right of the 9 pin slot, instead of going between the 8 and 9 pin slot as shown in the photo above. So if you see this happening, you need to adjust by moving back a bit on the lane or slightly right to hit the pocket more solidly. A HIGH hit means that the you hit the headpin in the center making it go more directly into the 5 pin and the ball is exiting the pin deck at the 8 pin slot. If you see this is happening, then move slightly left on the lane or forward. Keep the target the same for light or high hits.
The key here is to try and get a more SOLID hit into the 1-3 pocket area to have the ball follow the path above in the photo. It's also more beneficial for you to throw a shot that hooks to increase the entry angle into the pocket and have less pin deflection.
When I’m having trouble with that strike zone, I also have a few questions I’ll ask myself to help me figure out what went wrong:
1. HOW’S MY PHYSICAL STATE?- Am I tired? Being tired can cause you to walk somewhat slower than normal and that will make the ball hook sooner causing it to come up higher on the head pin. Do your best to try and keep the same speed throughout the evening.Get some coffee or a snack to help you stay alert. If you feel stiff at all, maybe stay standing up in between your turn instead of sitting down. Little things can make a difference.
2. AM I FOCUSING? – It can be difficult to stay totally focused for three games sometimes, especially if you’re a fairly new bowler. There can be many distractions when you’re in a league such as noise, team members wanting to chat, getting the money into the envelope, watching for people getting up to bowl to your right and left, or getting into a pot to see who can get the highest game, etc. (I try to take care of some of these things immediately following the practice session so I can start focusing on my game as soon as possible).
3. AM I ON THE CORRECT BOARD?- Some bowling centers have five dots across the lane, and others have seven, each representing five boards on the lane. Make sure you look down at your feet each time you bowl, especially if you’re at a different center for a tournament or in another league. Don’t let the extra two dots get you confused, or you might be standing in the wrong place. A board or two off at the stance does make a difference where the ball ends up at the pins!
4. HOW IS MY STANCE?- Normally you should be standing straight with your knees slightly bent, and eyes focused on the target. But if you’re tired for example, the ball will begin to feel heavier and may cause you to slouch. Try to be aware of this and straighten the back up again. Believe it or not, these little differences can and will affect your shot.
5. HOW’S MY TIMING?- Timing is crucial and the arm and steps should feel natural and in sync for the best results. If your footwork or arm swing is delayed a bit, then try counting your steps like I previously mentioned. This will help keep your rhythm and timing good.
6. HOW’S MY SPEED?- As I previously said, your physical state can affect your speed. If you’re excited about something when you arrive to the lanes, you may end up going too fast and the ball may not have a chance to hook and do its job. Having coffee or chocolate close to when I'm bowling affects my speed because both have caffeine, so I do my best to avoid them when I'll be bowling and you should also if caffeine bothers you. To help slow down a bit, you can lower the ball at the stance or lower your back swing to help slow down the speed of the ball (To increase ball speed, have a higher backswing by bending down more, or hold the ball up a little higher at the stance).
7. AM I FOLLOWING THROUGH?- After you release the ball, be sure that you continue to bring your arm up comfortably to at least shoulder level or higher for a good follow through. Remembering to touch your back after each release will help insure a good follow through for consistency.
Sometimes if you keep using the same line, it will get stale. try throwing from a different angle and you may be able to hit the pocket more often and carry all ten pins. Sometimes we have to shake things up a little in order to get better results!
Join me again next week when I'll be discussing How Does A Pinsetter Work?
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.