Top Ten Tips to Improve Your Bowling Technique

Bowling is fun! And it can be even more fun if you are aware of some basic best tips that will improve your bowling technique. If you are not a frequent bowler, or have never bowled before, playing the actual game can be a bit daunting. Bowling is both a physical and a mental game with specific rules, techniques, and courtesies. Even if you are a good bowler, there is always room to improve and post more points on the scoreboard. Here are the best ten bowling tips to improve your bowling technique that have been collected from both professionals and experienced amateur bowlers.

Top 10 Tips to Help Improve Your Bowling Technique

The tips are not ranked in any particular order. Learning and using all tips will help you to improve your game.

Tip 1: The Bowling Ball

Make sure that the bowling ball you are using fits you and your bowling style. It is recommended that a bowling ball should weigh about 10% of your body weight, up to 16 pounds. Most bowlers own their own bowling balls that are the correct weight, made out of material that matches their bowling skill level, and has holes drilled to match their grip. More experienced bowlers will own more than one bowling ball. For example, plastic bowling balls work well for throwing straight shots to the pin(s) while reactive resin balls are best for throwing curves or hooking the ball down the lane. Take care of your bowling ball by keeping it clean and store it in a case in a clean, dry area when not in use (and not in your car or garage).

If you do not own your own bowling ball, almost all bowling lanes will have ‘house bowling balls’. House bowling balls comes in various weights and have different grips. How do you know which one is right for you to use? First, use the 10% of your body weight (up to 16 lbs.) rule. Pick it up with both hands and place your fingers of your bowling hand in the grip to see if you can swing it comfortably. You may have to try several bowling balls to decide on the one that is going to work for you. Don’t shy away from changing bowling balls if your first selection is not working for you. Also, don’t try to throw a bowling ball of a higher weight just to impress your friends. Throwing a heavier ball can result in you having an awkward swing and release, and you may end up injuring your arm.

Tip 2: The Bowling Shoes

The next requirement for having a good bowling experience, besides using the right bowling ball, is wearing bowling shoes that fit and are comfortable. You cannot use regular shoes or sneakers to bowl since they do not have the correct soles for you to slide and stop correctly. Also, if you have not bowled in years and end up pulling old curled bowling shoes from your bowling bag, you need to purchase new shoes. Bowling shoes need to fit, the soles need to be correct for bowling and they need to be clean – free from any debris, and they need to be comfortable. Bring the socks you will wear when bowling to get the best fit. As with your bowling ball, you need to take care of your shoes by keeping them clean and stored appropriately when not in use.

Bowling lanes do provide bowlers with shoes if you do not have your own. Like other types of footwear, bowling shoes may run larger or smaller depending upon the manufacturer. It also depends on the type and thickness of sock you are wearing. If the first size you select does not fit, try one-half size smaller or larger. Inspect the soles of the shoes to make sure that they are clean and well taken care of. If the shoelaces are too long, tuck them in to the shoe around your ankle. The last thing you want to do is trip on a shoelace.

Tip 3: Learn to Bowl Correctly

Each sport has specific techniques. Bowling is no different. To be a successful bowler, you need to learn how to bowl correctly. This means learning how to stand with the ball at the back of your lane, how to step and swing the ball at the same time (including the number of steps you need to take), when to slide to the foul line, when to release or deliver the ball down the lane, and how to follow through with your release.

It is not difficult to learn the proper way to bowl. Keeping your body straight to the pins, bending your knees, looking to the pins, and delivering the ball down the lane with a forward fluid motion should work. If you find that you will be attending a lot of bowling events (parties, gatherings, etc.), it is worthwhile to take a few bowling lessons just so you can get the hang of it. From there, it is all in practicing.

Tip 4: Know the Rules

Knowing the rules, understanding the scoring system, learning the bowling terminology, and learning basic bowling courtesies will go along way in having a good bowling experience, but will also be greatly appreciated by those who are bowling with and next to you. Remember, unlike running or playing a team sport, like soccer, on a field, bowling is both an individual and a team sport. You have your own bowling game to concentrate on, but you also have bowlers in neighboring lanes that you need to be respectful of.

In addition to the rules of bowling, such as not going over the foul line with your foot or body, one needs to be aware of the courtesies of bowling. These include: being quiet while others are bowling so as not to disturb their concentration; do not eat or drink on the actual lanes as this will require staff to come out and clean the lane completely so that you and your teammates can continue to bowl safely; let the other bowler(s) on either side of you go first and wait at the back of the lane until they are finished with their turn; and be ready for your turn. No one wants to wait for you to get ready. Bowling is played continuously – one bowler right after another – without rests in between. Using good bowling etiquette will make everyone happier and might improve your score.

Tip 5: Watch and Observe

Sometimes the best way to learn something new or improve your own skill is to watch others who are very experienced. Watch successful bowlers who have a similar style to your own. Observe how they hold the ball, how they settle and concentrate before they start their approach to the foul line, how they move effortlessly in one fluid motion – moving forward while swinging the ball in a smooth arc, how they slide to the foul line, release the ball, and follow through with their arm. Count how many steps they take on their approach. Notice how long each stride is. Look to see where the ball lands – does it land in the same location every time? Does it make its way through the same arrow markings on the lane? Does it always curve one-way or the other? Watch how the bowler adjusts their approach and release depending upon the number of pins standing, whether they need a strike or a spare, and how they convert different types of spares.

Tip 6: Bowl with Better Bowlers

One of the great things about bowling is that bowlers tend to be generous in giving of their time and sharing their techniques with those who want to improve. Like most things in life, if you want to learn how to do something better, learn from those who are better than you. Yes, watch and observe good bowlers, but also invite better bowlers to spend time bowling with you. One of your friends, family members, or co-workers may be a better bowler. You can also just go to a bowling alley, see who is a good bowler, and ask if they are willing to bowl with you and/or give you some tips to improve your technique. If you are very serious about improving your bowling, hire a professional to coach you.

Tip 7: Try and Try Again

One of the best ways to learn if a specific style or technique will work for you is to try it! Go to a bowling alley by yourself or with others and play a few games. If your game is not going well and/or you continue to miss spare conversions or are not making strikes while do the same thing over and over again, try a new approach. Vary your delivery by selecting different lane markings to aim for to see if throwing between certain arrows works or doesn’t work. If you cannot make a spare by hooking the ball, try throwing it straight down the lane. The more you go through this trial and error process – essentially playing – the more insight you will have into how to improve your own game.

Tip 8: Play in a Tournament

Many bowling lanes host competitions – from the local level through the professional level. You can bowl as an individual or as part of a team of 2 or more. Women bowl against women, and men against men, unless you are in a mixed tournament. There are also competitions divided by age groups. Entry fees are reasonable (as low as $25.00) and those who place can receive prize money as well as trophies. By competing in tournaments, you can see how your skill and hours of practice match up against other bowlers. Plus, it is just a lot of fun!

Tip 9: Work on Your Focus

The way bowling lanes are designed can play on one’s fear of performing in front of others – also known as stage fright. Think about it. You wait for your turn, go to the bowling ball return, pick up your ball, maybe wipe it off with a bowling towel and put your hand over the hand dryer or put resin on your hand to dry it off. You then set yourself up at the back of the lane – getting your feet in position, maneuvering the ball to where it is most comfortable for you – all the time concentrating and focusing on those ten pins standing at the end of long wooden planks. You breath in and out, focus, and start your delivery – left leg, right leg, left leg, right leg, left leg slide to the foul line – while smoothly bringing your arm back then forward in one fluid motion, releasing the ball as you slide – your right leg ending behind you, your right arm following through towards the ceiling, as your ball hurdles down the lane towards those pins. You watch to see what happens – strike? Or spare. Strike? Celebrate and return to the end of the lane. Spare, think about how you are going to convert the spare while walking back to the ball return.

This all sounds quite perfunctory, right? Now add your surroundings – the players to the right and left of you are watching you, waiting for their turn, your teammates are watching you to see how you are going to bowl, others who you do not know may also be watching you. It is a situation that, if you let it, can break your concentration and make you perform horribly. If this is an issue for you, you need to learn to focus on your game and your game alone. You need to learn to block out all the sounds and the stares so that you are in your own bubble of play. The other thing to remember is that each bowler is in the same boat, doing the same thing, and most likely having the same thoughts as you. Learning to block out distractions and focus will improve your game.

Tip 10:  Practice, Practice, and Practice

The only way to improve at something is to practice it over and over again. The practice occurs not just for the sake of practice. Practicing is working to improve your technique. You don’t show up at the bowling alley just to casually throw some balls down the lane. Instead, you go to the alley to intentionally practice techniques that are working for you and to learn new ones, such as how to pick up or convert spares to points. Investing time in intentional practice sessions, being consistent, and finding out what works best for you, then repeat it over and over again is the goal.

Conclusion

Bowling is a very fun game and sport. Anyone of almost any age can learn to bowl. If you are serious about becoming better than the casual bowler, then there are specific steps you need to take: having your own equipment (bowling ball and bowling shoes), understanding the rules, using bowling courtesies, knowing the correct way to deliver the ball, trying out different techniques to see what works and what doesn’t work for you, watching and observing successful bowlers, bowling with good bowlers, working on your focus, and practicing effective bowling techniques will lead to improving your skill and your score.