To be a good bowler, one must have a combination of athletic ability and coordination. Rolling the ball and hitting a precise spot down the lane can be difficult for the beginner, to say the least. Bowlers’ styles differ greatly as each player becomes comfortable with their own bowling style. Since there are no rules set in stone about how a player gets the ball rolling down the alley, there are more than a few ways to get this done. 

Children usually begin rolling the ball two handed, from between their legs. This is because the bowling balls used in 10-pin are usually far too heavy for them to pick up with one hand. Bowling this way does not usually beget a very good score, because it is hard to generate much power consistently this way. This is a good technique for a beginning child, but will not produce many strikes.

Once strong enough, a bowler can begin to use the more traditional one handed technique. In this style of bowling, the middle and ring fingers are inserted into the holes provided, along with the thumb in the third hole. Beginning with the ball held in front of their body and standing far behind the foul line, the bowler then takes several steps at the same time as lowering the ball hand and bringing it behind their body, gaining momentum to roll it. Without stepping over the foul line, the bowler brings their arm they are holding the ball with forward and releases it down the alley, aiming for the pins. This technique takes practice to get the tempo, coordination and timing of the shot correct.

Professional bowlers both on television and on the lanes usually “hook” the ball, or cause it to curve down the lane. They especially do this on their first shot of the frame. This technique of hooking the ball is a way for advanced players cause the ball to hit the pins, not straight on, but at an angle. Strikes are obtained more from this type of shot than the straight on type. The bowler does this with a flick of the wrist as they are releasing the ball. The ball then changes direction about halfway down the lane. Bowlers with this skill usually hook the ball toward their non-dominant hand. Right-handed bowlers usually hook to the left, lefties hook to the right. Some bowlers, however, hook the ball to the opposite side. Mostly, this is a matter of style, or necessity when trying to pick up a spare.

The reason for hooking the bowling ball is to try to hit the “pocket”, or the spot to the left or right of the pin in front. This has been known to be the ideal target for high scores and strikes on the first shot of each frame. The hook of a ball also increases the target when trying to pick up a spare with a small amount of pins. When the ball hits the pins at an angle, success is more likely.

There truly is no right or wrong way to roll a bowling ball down the alley. However, some styles of bowling get the bowler higher scores than other styles. Only with practice can a bowler’s shot evolve to the perfect technique for them

Setting Up for the Perfect Bowling Shot

No matter how experienced the bowler, they likely know that how they set up their bowling shots will determine how the game of bowling will go for them. Without the correct set up, the chance of knocking pins over is left to lady luck. The proper steps to setting up a perfect shot can be achieved by just about anyone, even if they are a first time bowler. It has less to do with skill than it does preparing mentally for the shot.

Serious bowlers know that by looking at the positions of the pins to line up their shot is extremely important to their scores. Technical skill will, of course, lead to a higher score. Proper preparation to do this will increase technical skill, which in turn will also lead to a higher bowling score. It will also allow the bowler to do their best each time they are at the lanes, instead of letting themselves get thrown off by other factors. There are a few things a bowler can do to mentally prepare themselves for the shot.

The first and most important thing is for a bowler to have a routine or ritual that they perform before each and every shot. Almost anything goes for this ritual, but all pros have one. It could be taking a few deep breaths or wiping down the ball. It could even be slightly ridiculous like doing a few jumping jacks. It doesn’t matter what the routine is, just that one exists. This gives the player time to focus and calm themselves before each shot. Once the routine has transformed into habit, it will serve to instantly calm and focus the player on their bowling shot.

Once a routine is established, the bowler should work on finding a way to tune out distractions. Bowling alleys are loud, busy and filled with lights that flash. All this distraction and noise must be blocked out to set up for that perfect shot. This can be achieved by the bowler doing something as simple as repeating a phrase over and over to themselves, or thinking of a favorite verse of a song. Only trial and error will help a bowler find the technique that works to best block out distractions for them. Like the ritual, this may feel a little funny at first, but soon will become second nature and extremely helpful.

As soon as a bowler has found the habits that help them best prepare for each shot mentally, the technical aspects of the game can and will follow. Having these routines can also help the bowler stay confident and not let an off shot throw their entire game. Every game has lows and highs, but it is important to stay consistent. Many pro bowlers will say that the game of bowling is 90% mental. By having a ritual and focus technique in place the mental aspect will be taken care of, so the technical aspects can then be perfected.