Bowling is a classic pastime that anyone can enjoy, whether you're bowling strikes for a perfect game or just keeping the bumpers up and having a good time. However serious it is, you might still want to improve your skills. Here's some tips on how to practice your bowling.
Approach: Bowling can be just throwing the ball down your lane and hoping for the best, but it doesn't have to be. There's plenty of preparation one can do before they even step up to the lane to throw. Here are a few tips for how to prepare yourself.
Remember to have fun: This is first because it's the most important thing to remember: bowling is supposed to be fun! Don't worry about going pro or anything your first time out. Just enjoy yourself.
Get the right ball size: This is one of the first things that you should do when bowling: Make sure that the ball is right for you. A ball that is too light is hard to control and get your fingers out of and a ball that is too heavy is harder to roll and could result in injury. Buying your own bowling ball would probably make this easier, but if that's not an option, a tip for finding the right ball is to stick your fingers in the appropriate holes and see if they come out without sticking. Your fingers should feel snug enough that your thumb releases smoothly, but doesn't just pop out.
Find the right shoes: Like with any sport, wearing the right pair of shoes is crucial when bowling. The wrong bowling shoes, or no bowling shoes at all, can cause you to fall and slip, lose your balance, or get hurt. Buying shoes is the best way to ensure your shoes fit, but when renting a shoe, a shoe that's about a half size bigger than your regular shoes should fit fine.
Learn the bowling etiquette: There are several things you can do to make sure that you are being as respectful as possible to other bowlers. Familiarize yourself with some of the bowling etiquette and you should have no problem with that. Don't yell when it's other people's turn, wait for the person in the neighboring lane to throw before you do, and don't use balls that aren't yours. All these things and more will make you a pleasant bowling buddy.
Approaching the Lane: You've done the work to prepare yourself for the throw, finding the right shoes and ball and everything else you need to get a strike. Now, here are some tips to help you as you approach the lane and really get ready to throw.
Grip the ball correctly: A good grip is key to having a good release. To get the ideal grip, put your two middle fingers and your thumb in the appropriate holes, inserting down to about the second knuckle. This is most common, but it can be inserted down to only the first knuckle for a fingertip grip. Apply pressure and always hold the ball with your off hand when not throwing.
Take an upright stance: Your stance is one of the most important things to situate before making an approach. Serious bowlers suggest standing straight in an upright, athletic position. Bend your knees slightly, put the ball at about your side supported by your off hand, and relax your shoulders.
Find the pocket: A lot of bowling comes down to not how hard you hit the pins, but where you hit the pins. For bowlers, the key is to find the pocket. The pocket is the spot where the angle is best for getting a strike. For right-handed bowlers, it's between the top pin (the one-pin) and the next pin to its right when directly looking at them (the three-pin). For left-handed bowlers, it's the one-pin and the pin directly to the left (the two-pin). Aim for those pockets on your first throw.
Learn the markings: You may have noticed some black markings in the lane when you're approaching the shot. Those markings are more than just decorations. They're there to help you do several things. The dots at the line are there to help you figure out where to stand. The arrows are for aiming the ball when you throw it. Find the right arrow to throw at before approaching.
Don't focus on the pins: This might seem strange, but the pins aren't what you should focus on. Most serious bowlers focus on those because they're a closer target and are easier to aim at. They usually aim for the middle arrows, focusing on finding the pocket mentioned earlier. Those arrows are where the most lane oil is, with the outside arrows having less oil and more traction.
Figure out the step count for your approach: While it truly is up to the bowler to find what works best, most bowlers prefer the four-step approach. Start with the same leg as your dominant hand so you end your approach on your opposite leg. It's also helpful to do a power step on your second-to-last step, giving you a little more momentum as you begin your swing. Make sure to kick your starter leg after the power step to ensure you have full freedom to swing.
Master The swing: Now you've done everything you need to to prepare for the most important part of bowling: the throw. However, all the prep in the world doesn't guarantee that your throw will get you a strike or a spare. Here are some tips for throwing a good ball.
Keep your throwing arm straight: If you're wondering why your ball keeps veering off to one side or another, the answer might be in your swing. Balls can go off to the side for many reasons, including over-gripping the ball, swinging behind the back, and more. Focus on keeping your arm straight during the swing and your ball should go straighter.
Release the bowling ball at the bottom of your swing: You don't want to do all this work to master the swing only to mess up the release! Most expert bowlers suggest releasing it as close to the ground as possible. Releasing too early can hurt ball speed while releasing too late can cause it to bounce. You can even cause damage to the lane if you release the ball too high. Bend your knee slightly to release at the perfect spot and get optimal speed.
Control your speed: The optimal bowling ball speed on a throw is usually around 17 miles per hour. That's not always something that you can calculate on every throw, but it's something to keep in mind when throwing the ball. More speed generally means a less accurate ball but a greater impact. The fastball isn't always the best ball in bowling though, as it could lead you to create more splits for yourself.
Try to throw some curve on it: This is something that will likely take some time to develop, but it can help elevate your game. Most pros prefer this strategy, known as hook bowling, because when mastered it allows you to control your swing more and helps direct the ball to pockets. In order to get that spin, at the point of release you have to rotate your thumb counterclockwise (if you're right-handed) or clockwise (if you're left-handed). The more you rotate, the more spin you'll get.