Improve your Tenpin Bowling

Everything you need to know about bowling   

Manners and Common Sense

Proper conduct, sportsmanship, consideration of others and plain common sense are important to succeed and enjoy any endeavor. Bowling is no exception. The following items should be practiced by all bowlers:

Ball and Grip

A bowler must use a ball which fits properly to the hand to attain any degree of enjoyment and success. Most importantly, the grip should be natural and comfortable. There should not be any strain on the thumb, fingers or wrist.

The majority of bowler use one of three basic grips, the conventional, fingertip or semi-fingertip. Whichever one feels most natural and comfortable to the bowler is the one that should be used. For a bowler who doesn't own a ball selecting the right house ball is important. Attach great importance to the span, which is the distance between the thumb hole and the center line between the finger holes. You will not be able to hold a ball properly if the span is either too narrow or too wide. To check for the recommended conventional grip, insert your thumb to its full length in the ball. Lay the fingers across, not into, their holes. The crease of the second joint should extend about 1/4" beyond the nearest edge of the finger holes. If the joints do not reach the edge the span is too wide. If they go more than halfway beyond the center of the holes, the span is too narrow.

The maximum weight of a ball is 16 pounds and most men use one approaching that weight. Because strength is a factor, women might not be able to handle the 16 pound ball with as much success. Many women use 12, 13 or 14 pound balls with effective results. Size of the bowler is not a key factor. If a bowler constantly drops the ball at the foul line, the answer usually is the ball is too heavy. On the other hand, if the ball is lofted onto the lane, or the speed is too great, the bowler is probably using a lighter than necessary ball. One way to check is after two good games the third game score is lower, chances are the ball is too heavy. Find out what is comfortable you Don't use a ball too heavy to handle; and don't use one so light that it becomes too easy to handle.

The selection of ball is a matter of personal choice and comfort, and what works best for you. A properly fitted ball, no matter what grip, will increase accuracy and begin to raise scores. Bowlers who want their own ball should consult a pro-shop operator for proper spanning and drilling of finger and thumb holes.

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Conventional Grip

Beginning bowlers should use the conventional grip because it provides a firmer hold with the fingers and gives the bowler a more secure felling about having full control of the ball. The conventional grip allows the bowler to hold more of the ball, thus providing the feeling of a secure release. The conventional grip does not allow for any exceptional lifting action, but it does provide the bowler with the ability to hook the ball into the strike pocket. Upon becoming a more experienced bowler, the change to a finger tip or semi fingertip grip can be made.

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Fingertip Grip

The ball is supported by only the first joint of the bowling fingers. The thumb is inserted all the way into the ball and when the bowling fingers are extended over the finger holes, the first joint crease should extend slightly over the inner edge of the hole, providing a comfortable finger tip grip. The fingertip allows the greatest leverage at this point, thus giving increased lift and/or turn. The wide span could present control problems for the new bowler, but for the advanced a comfortable fitting fingertip grip will provide an easily controlled release.

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Semi Fingertip Grip

The fingers are inserted into the finger holes anywhere between the first and second joint and the thumb is placed all the way into the ball. Since the depth of the fingers could vary in a semi fingertip, it is possible that a bowler may get a different feel or release occasionally. A semi might be advisable for the bowler who is not comfortable with a fingertip grip. But in generally a fingertip grip is recommended over a semi fingertip grip.

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Point of Origin

As in the selection of the ball, the beginner should experiment and select a stance which is most comfortable and natural. The first objective is to find your point of origin, or where to stand on the approach before starting to move towards the foul line. Walk to the foul line, then turn round 180 degrees. Place your heals approximately 2 inches from the foul line. For a four step bowler take four and a half brisk walking steps forward. Then look down at the dots or the ball return to see where your toes are placed. Turn and face the pins you should be at approximately your point of origin. Take several practice approaches and use common sense to adjust your point of origin if need be.

Foe right handed bowlers, the point of origin should be to the right of the center dot. The right shoulder should line up directly above the board where the second dot right of center is in line with the second arrow on the lane, which is the common strike target. Bowlers should begin by using the second arrow on the right as the strike target as a guide to the 1-3 pocket.

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Picking up a Ball

Right Way

Place one hand each side of the ball away from the direction the ball return runs. Lift the ball, then cradle in one arm. Then place fingers and thumb into the ball.

Wrong ways

  1. Smashed your fingers by placing your hands either side of the ball in the direction the ball return runs.
  2. Place your fingers and thumb in the hole whilst the ball is still on the rack, and you'll either drop the ball, strain your fingers or get them smashed by another ball.

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Proper Wrist Position

The wrist should be straight and fairly firm as the first step and push away begin. Keeping a straight and fairly firm wrist doesn't mean bending the wrist back. Cupping or bending the wrist forward is not recommended either. Because of physical makeup, it is more difficult for a woman to keep her wrist straight and firm, and often the wrist is in the wrong position at the point of beginning the approach. Extreme concentration is essential for proper wrist position.

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Delivering the Ball (the Run-Up)

Accurately aiming is only possible if you can throw your ball consistently every time. One way to ensure that you do this is by learning how to step up you the foul line in the correct way.

The most common run-up used by bowlers involves 4 steps, surprisingly enough it is known as the 4 step delivery! As most bowlers find it easier using 4 steps these notes (or now web page - web master) will focus mainly on this type of delivery. However, some bowlers may prefer to use 3 or 5 steps so notes on these types of delivery will also be included.

NB: The notes are also right hand biased, so sorry left handed people but you are going to have to reverse the procedure.

The Four Step Delivery

Stance

Start by standing square to the target holding the ball waist high. Bend the right knee (or both knees if it feels easier) and look at the target.

Note: For sparing you should face towards the pins you are trying to spare not straight ahead (unless you have central pins left)... always face the target!

Step One

Push the ball out and down with both hands whilst stepping out with your right foot. These two movements should take place simultaneously and be about the same distance in length.

Step Two

Let the ball swing down to your side in a pendulum movement as you step forward with your left foot. Your left hand will come away from the ball and you can hold it out to the side to aid balance if you find it helps.

Step Three

As you step forward with your right foot again the ball will be at the top of the back swing. This back swing should reach somewhere between your hip and shoulder. your elbow shouldn't be bent.

Step Four

When you left foot touches the floor during the last step, it should slide slightly and your knee should bend. The ball and your foot should reach the area slightly behind the foul line at approximately the same time.

Release

At this point the ball will naturally roll off your hand, thumb first. It is important to keep a firm finger grip on the ball so that your fingers lift the ball on the upswing.

Follow Through

In the follow through your arm should continue on an upward arc. Your hips and shoulders should still be square towards the target.

NB: The delivery should be as smooth as possible and in one continuous motion. It may help to say or think the words: Out, Side, Back, Through as you take your steps.

Position at Foul Line

The correct position at the foul line is as follows:

The Three Step Delivery

Start up standing as in the four step delivery, but bend your left leg instead of your right and hold the ball out and down before you take the first step

Step One

Step with your left foot and let the ball swing down to your side in a pendulum movement
 

Step Two

As you step forward with your right foot again the ball will be at the top of the back swing. This back swing should reach somewhere between your hip and shoulder. your elbow shouldn't be bent.

Step Three

When you left foot touches the floor during the last step, it should slide slightly and your knee should bend. The ball and your foot should reach the area slightly behind the foul line at approximately the same time.

The Five Step Delivery

This is the same as the four step delivery, but you take a step with the left foot before starting the Step 1 from 4 step. This means your left leg should start bent.
Copyright 1999 University of London Tenpin Bowling Club

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