When somebody brings up a very good idea, such as…”Let’s go bowling!!!”, it’s probably a safe bet to assume that the first thought that comes to mind is not how well your bowling footwork and approach is doing. For those just starting out in the world of ten pin bowling, the focus is mainly placed on how hard and fast they can throw the bowling ball down the lane, with grace and timing as an afterthought…if ever thought of at all.
As much fun as it can be to spend some time on the lanes, if you’re serious about your bowling game, your footwork is much more important than you may realize. Too may times, I see folks simply grab a bowling ball and perform a modified jog to the foul line only to release the ball with little to zero timing or focus. Contrary to popular belief, although you may get lucky once in a while, sheer speed and brute force is not a reliable strategy when building your foundation ror being a great bowler.
There are some major areas of focus that are included in honing one’s bowling skills when it comes to delivering the bowling ball to the lane.
Rhythm/Tempo of Pace
Let’s dig into each area and try to understand how you can start improving your own bowling footwork and increase the number of X’s on your score card.
One of the most natural movements that we possess as human beings is how we walk. There is a built in timing mechanism where we simply go from point A to point B, in a very efficient way that our bodies know already. The goal here is to find a natural stride that doesn’t cause you to lose balance or bounce your way to the foul line as you force your feet to walk in an odd way that you’re not used to.
Your target stride length should at a distance to where you are able to deliver the bowling ball to the lane after the foul line and not find yourself having to toss the ball too far and also to where you are not dropping the bowling ball before the foul line…which can have negative effects since there is no oil on that part of the lane.
Rhythm/Tempo of Pace
From the beginning of your approach, you want to ensure that your overall pace is slow enough to where you can maintain a slower than typical “walk” to the foul line. Since you will need to learn how to time your motion of the bowling ball with your pace, keep your tempo slow when starting out. I see many bowlers relying on the speed and power of a quick pace before delivering the ball and this can cause a mistimed release and disturb the balance of the bowler. Trust me, it’s not fun when your foot hits the other side of the foul line and you lose all footing only to end up studying the ceiling pattern with a sore skull.
Take each step of your approach with respect to the last step you just took as far as keeping your tempo in check. The average delivery uses a four-step approach but no matter how many you take, (I’ve seen a twenty step approach…pretty interesting) keep things calm, smooth and timed to your footwork and try not to compensate for errors by rushing your feet.
Accuracy is critical in the game of ten pin bowling; no matter how much you’ve nailed down stride length and tempo, if you’re directional focus is off, get used to seeing your bowling ball in the gutter. Once you’ve become confident with your aiming, make sure that your approach to the foul line is following as straight a line as possible. Use a heel-to-toe method in your approach to hone your balance and to keep your sights on the target. If you keep your feet misaligned, it becomes much more difficult to find an accurate line and trust your delivery.
Once you master your bowling footwork, your accuracy and average will begin to skyrocket. Every board on the lane counts and if you can consistently walk the golden path to the foul line with pin-point accuracy, not only will you be able to enjoy the game of bowling that much more, but you may well be on your way to some serious high series scores and respect among your fellow bowlers.