How To Bowl A Bowling Ball For Beginners
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
The absolute, most crucial skill you have to know in bowling is how to bowl a ball, after all, It is the objective of the game. If you’re a person that finds yourself not hitting as many strikes as you’d like, hitting the gutter all the time, or simply using the wrong technique, this article will (hopefully) give you some pointers. Overall, it is a matter of learning the right technique and then practising, practising and more practise.
Curving The Ball
Most beginners who play bowling focus on goal; To bowl the ball as straight as possible, and to knock as many pins as they can. However, from a plain scientific perspective, the greatest chance of hitting a strike happens when you hit either the 1-2 pins or the 1-3 pin at the same time. If you watch footage from professional games, you will always see this. However, in order to hit the two pins, you have to learn how to curve a bowling ball. This is mainly achieved by spinning the bowing ball as you throw it, and is one of the trickiest aspect of bowling to consistently perform.
There are a number of techniques to achieve a hooked or curved ball, but most fall within the two categories of single and double handed grips. The two-handed method, where their control the spin with the hand at the bottom, I would say is harder to learn but is easier to master. The traditional single hand bowl is I believe, to be the opposite.
In order to perform a two-handed shot you'll need to, obviously, hold the ball with two hands. Play around with whatever grip is the best, I personally put my ring and middle finger into the top holes and place my other fingers flatly on the ball. Then, with your non-dominant hand on the bottom, you'll want to position the ball on your side at hip height.
The basic throw follows these steps (It will help if you can see this visually, right here!):
Bend your knees slightly, and lean away from the ball for counterbalance
Reach your arms forward with your elbows bent when taking your first step
Pull back your arms with gravity, and let your body go in front of the ball
Let go of the ball, and use your arms for balance.
You'll find more often than not, that the ball will naturally curve without you even thinking about it. This method of throwing a ball, at least for me, allows you to very easily apply spin, as all you have to do is move your bottom hand up. But this is also why the two-handed technique is hard to master, as you'll find that the bowling ball will spin a lot. In the beginning, the ball will find its way into the gutter most of the time, but over time, and with loads of practise, you'll find the exact amount of under-hand force that is needed to spin the ball for your specific playstyle.
A one-handed grip is the most traditional way to play bowling, and the easiest to learn. It involves, at least what I do, putting your ring and middle finger into the top holes, and you thumb into the bottom. The common mistake is that most people will just think of bowling straight, with their palms facing the roof the whole way. This is where you must learn a different technique in order to generate a curve, and hit those 1-2 and 1-3 pins. The technique is rather simple. All you have to do is rotate your hand as you're performing shot, and it goes like this:
Right-Handed Players: Palms Facing Up, Palms Facing Left, Palms Facing Down.
Left-Handed Players: Palms Facing Up, Palms Facing Right, Palms Facing Down.
You'll be releasing the ball in between the part of your throw, where your palms are facing left/right and down. If done correctly, you should be able to see the ball curve as it rolls down the lane. To increase your spin, and subsequently your curve, you will have to increase the speed at which your palms rotate. This is where mastering this technique becomes extremely difficult, requires a whole lot of practise, and some very strong wrists to perform, especially consistently.
Understanding The Approach:
The same way the type of court affects the performance of tennis players, is the same way the approach affects the performance of bowling players. The approach, for those who don’t know, is the wooden floor area behind the foul line where a bowler walks up to bowl. The approach area can make or break your shot. Most bowling alleys have well maintained approaches that are slick and clean. However, If some people bowl with their "street shoes" or eat on the approach, the floor can be a real pain to bowl on. Take real pain literally, I once slipped on the floor because a piece of gum was on the approach, and had a bleeding nose to show for it. So I stress, that if you find yourself slipping, or braking uncontrollably, I would greatly suggest either going to a new lane, or different alley. A bleeding nose and a terrible game might put you off bowling for good.
The approach also refers to the physical walk before you bowl the ball. The physical approach has a very large impact in shot, so becoming efficient in this is crucial in your development as a bowler. A full approach allows you to gain momentum, a better shot, more speed, and you'll find that bowling the ball requires much less effort compared to just standing still and bowling it. How many steps should you take? It all depends on what is comfortable for you, how you see the lane, your size, etc. Every persons approach is unique to them. Typically though, a four step approach is used, which as the name implies, you take four steps before you make your shot. If you want to increase your speed, then you simply take more steps.
A typical approach looks something like this (It will help if you can see this visually, right here!) :
Hold the ball in your dominant hand in an underhand position in front of your shoulder.
Step with your dominant leg in your first step, at the same time extending the arm with the ball.
Swing your arm with the ball behind you as you take your next step with your other leg.
Take the other step with your dominant leg and let gravity help you lower the ball.
Release the ball, and you should find yourself taking your last step on your non-dominant leg.
Viola! You learnt the basic form of an approach. The key now is to guess what? Practise. You'll look funny for the first few sessions, I know I did, but your friends won't be laughing when you're hitting strikes left and right and they aren't. If you also implement the bowling techniques discussed above and curve the ball as it hits the 1-2 and 1-3 pins, you're on the path to becoming a great bowler. We hope this article gave you guys some pointers in learning how to bowl a ball.