Common Bowling Mistakes and How to Correct Them

With time and practice, bowlers usually develop their own style of “throwing” a bowling ball. However, the majority of them make the same mistakes during the process. These include poor stance, drifting, speeding up approach and delivery, and dropping or lofting the ball upon release.

Proper stance is crucial for a successful shot. A good bowling arm swing should resemble a pendulum and go straight back and forward. Many bowlers, however, tend to hold the bowling ball at about the middle of their chest while in the stance. Having the ball so far inside forces them to move their arm to the side and back around their bodies for the backswing, which may disturb their release. The result is potential gutter balls and overall poor throws. To be able to swing the ball back and straight forward, bowlers should instead hold it out to the same side of their bodies where their dominant bowling hand is.

Drifting can be equally detrimental. It occurs when a bowler has one board as a starting point but ends up on a different one at the foul line when they release. In short, they have “drifted” to one side or another. To avoid this, bowlers should choose a starting point, execute a practice approach without the ball, and then look down to check whether they have ended up on the same board. Looking down in the middle of the shot is not advisable, as it may affect other delivery areas. Alternatively, they can ask a friend to observe them and tell them whether their movement toward the foul line stays straight.

Having a proper approach and delivery speed is also among the problematic areas for many bowlers. A common fault is to rush to throw the ball, which results in an off-balanced release, inaccurate throws, and very few strikes. They mistakenly think that they need to speed up to the foul lane to generate a powerful enough shot to knock down pins. In actuality, slowing down and adopting a deliberate approach can significantly improve their game and make up for a more powerful throw. Professional bowlers are aware of this, and as a result they take their time.

Timing is critical for releasing the ball, too. A perfect bowling release requires releasing the ball just past the foul line. But the majority of bowlers get the timing wrong and let it go too early. As a result, the ball drops hard on the lane instead of being smoothly released.

To fix this, bowlers should ensure they let go of the ball only after their foot starts to slide on the final step and they are almost to the foul line. Often bowlers may not be aware they drop the ball. Again, asking a friend to confirm where it first touches the lane can be helpful.

Finally, many bowlers incorrectly think they need to throw the ball to generate power. A lofted ball lands hard on the lane surface and is almost impossible to control. Any ball landing more than three feet past the foul lane indicates excessive loft.

Most often, lofting is a result of releasing the ball too late. To correct this, bowlers must make sure they remove their thumb at the moment their foot slides to the foul line and immediately follow with the remaining two fingers. Another possible reason for too much loft is an improperly fitted bowling ball, which hampers the timely release of the fingers. Consulting with a professional at the bowling shop can solve this issue.

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