Coaching Questions from our Members

Dear Strikeshot.com: (Fivepin)

I am having problems on my release and what happens is that it goes straight to the right gutter so do you have any tips that can help?

Without a lot of information, it sounds like you need to work on your approach and follow through. Try throwing a few with the object of hitting only the headpin. Slow your delivery and concentrate on where you want the ball to go. There are three important components when bowling, the approach, the delivery and the follow through. While holding the ball in front of you, before starting your approach, make sure your shoulders are square to your target. Take your first step and start your back swing and delivery. When you release your ball at your target, be sure to continue your forward arm motion until you have "reached out and hit the head pin with your hand". This will ensure your arm is straight and on line. Your entire delivery should flow smoothly, what I call having rhythm. If your arm speed is faster than your approach, you will have a greater chance of throwing the ball left (if right handed). At the same time, going to slow may cause you to under-throw the ball, sending it right. It's in the timing.

Also, remember this point, if you are constantly missing to the right of the headpin, move to the right. If your missing on the left, move to the left. This is a great move if your type of ball is consistent. It is really hard to pin-point your problem with the information you've given so practice, practice, practice. I am sure your game will improve as time goes on.

You don't mention how old you are, how many years you've been bowling, how many times a week you bowl, etc. All these will play a factor in the abilities you have. If your having that much problem, I am sure there are a lot of 'Bowling Alley Professionals' who could work with you on the lanes and give you the actual help and guidance you are looking for. Just ask your Proprietor.

LEN ISLEIFSON


Dear Strikeshot.com: (Fivepin)

I am currently a 230 average bowler looking for some assistance to improve my game to reaching my goal of averaging 260 or better. I throw a relatively tight back-up ball that travels left to right and my approach begins from left to right that almost looks like Doug Stuart from Ontario. Lately I have had this problem with rushing and lack of concentration when on the approach and it showed while qualifying for the Ontario open. I didn't miss the middle very often but whenever I hit the middle I was punching or hitting it real heavy. I bowl in two leagues, the men's league and a mixed league. Do you have any suggestions or techniques I can try to improve my game?

Your problem is fairly common among all bowlers. Concentration is a part of the game that we all take for granted ever once in in a while. It sounds like you throw a fairly decent ball so my question would be, "What do you look at when you set up your approach?, "When you start your approach? and Where are your eyes when you finish the delivery? If you where to answer these questions while sitting in front of your computer, you would have to vision yourself, in your mind, and review the techniques you used. So, why not do this right at the lanes! Before you step on the approach, picture yourself from start to finish. The mental part of the game is not just about dealing with your opponents, it also deals with yourself. Picture yourself stepping on the approach, picking up your ball, setting up your body, and delivering the perfect ball resulting in a strike. Then follow through and put your thoughts into actions. Follow each precise step with the ultimate goal of reaching the same outcome. This process should help in slowing you down and assist with your concentration. If you find you still have problems with concentration, there are a few drills you can do at home, or at the lanes, to work on this.

You don't say how long you've been bowling in these two leagues or how many times you have bowled in Open Qualifying. Maybe it's a nervous reaction which causes your desire to push the ball out in a rushed state. There are numerous causes to your problem, as I said before, it's very common. Try checking out those concentration techniques in your local library. Good luck and I am sure we will see you in the Open in the future.

LEN ISLEIFSON


Dear Strikeshot.com: (Tenpin)

I'm a beginner on the bowling lanes and I'd like to know what should be my first ball. I'm talking about a reactive ball not a plastic one which I have been using for the past 2 months...its a Columbia 300 WD 14lb plastic and my average is 156. I'm interested in taking a few practice lessons and I would like to buy a decent ball which will answer my novice through advanced needs. My budget is around $100+/- and I'm intending to buy it on eBay....any help will be highly appreciated !

Any entry level performance ball:

1) The Scout Reactive or Particle from Columbia
2) Power Groove Reactive or Particle from Brunswick
3) The Hit or the Big Hit Line from Storm
4) The Tornado Series of Ebonite

These type of balls offer a dramatic departure from the performance of polyester without getting into big dollars. Any brand will do.

SANDRA LOWE


Dear Strikeshot.com: (Fivepin)

I am trying to change from the hook I have thrown for about 30 years to a backup. Any suggestions? I am having moderate success, but I would like some drills I could practice, along with some pointers on how to hold the ball correctly, etc. Any advice you have would be appreciated.

I have heard many times that the back-up ball is the perfect ball to throw, glad to hear you want to perfect your game. The type of ball you throw is dependant on how you hold your ball. You should be able to pick up your ball off the rack and throw it without changing your grip. The ball should be help by your fingertips while resting in the palm of your hand. You should be able to stick a finger between your palm and the ball (to a certain degree). The action of the back up would be to lift your two outside fingers at the point of release. Try this with no ball..... hold your hand, palm up, directly in front of you with your finger pointing to the head pin. Pull only you pinky back into your palm. Don't exaggerate the action, it only needs to pull back a little while the other fingers have very minimal movement. The amount of back spin is dependant on the amount of pull back you provide with your pinky. Keep your hand straight as you release the ball. Remember, use your fingers, not your wrist.

It is definitely easier to show you the technique instead of trying to describe it. I am sure your Proprietor could suggest someone in your house who could show you the method. Remember, practice makes perfect and I am sure after 30 years, it's not going to change over night. Good Luck in your game.

LEN ISLEIFSON


Dear Strikeshot.com: (Fivepin)

Need help to get a once a week YBC'er to break a bad habbit. He's actually quite co-ordinated, but I can't get him to walk straight to deliver the ball. He's worked hard on target concentration. Tried moving left and right to change his perspective on the middle arrow. I (don't tell anybody) even had him try pin bowling to see if I could get him to walk straight. I've walked through delivery with him and he walks straight. But, put a ball in his hand and his second step crosses over his left foot and he always ends up with his left foot in line with the left gutter. I feel he has great potential if I can find a way to get him to walk straight at the pin he's shooting for, as he manages a 185 average by walking crooked and constantly being off balance.

Sounds like you have a challenge on your hands. I too had a YBC bowler doing this action. His average was around 145 until we corrected it, he now sits at a 187. The trick is to train his body. Repetition is the only answer. Take some practice time and work only on his approach. Don't worry about the target or accuracy. Concentrate on the approach. Place masking tape "X" on the floor where each foot should be on each step. Have your bowler start with no ball, and just follow the marks. Outside of his steps, place a vertical line of tape on each side of the bowler. It should look like a runway or road. Keep the bowler inside the lines and on the x's. If your bowler is a serious bowler and really wants to improve, he/she needs to work on balance. Is the bowlers sliding foot pointed at the head pin after the delivery or is it slightly turned? This is a good indication of speed and balance. A turned foot means incorrect speed and balance so it is another measuring tool for you to use. Also, the use of video recorders is great. make sure to have someone record from all angles so that the bowler can have a good look at themselves and actually see what they are doing wrong. Good luck and thanks for your help in the YBC program. Kids need great coaches who care, like yourself.

LEN ISLEIFSON


Dear Strikeshot.com: (Fivepin)

I am having a problem with the consistency of my release. It seems I cannot control my hand and sometimes I throw backup and other times I toss a hook. Are there any specific practice techniques I can use to regain the control I once had with my release?

Consistency in the delivery is a key component of bowling. You say that sometimes you throw a hook and sometimes a backup. Let me try some suggestions with you. First of all, remember to take your time in your approach. Moving too quickly can cause erratic delivery. Next ensure that you lock your elbow and wrist from the pushaway. Your arm should come down and into the backswing locked straight and swing something like the pendulum of a grandfather clock. Your backswing should come up to shoulder height and then your arm begins the forward motion of your delivery. Again remember to keep your arm locked straight at the elbow and wrist.

Check to see that your release (the point which you let go of the ball) is at the instep of your sliding foot and try to ensure that you get a consistent delivery at this point. If you are trying to deliver a backup, your wrist should turn slightly away from your body. Right handed bowlers turn their wrist to the right and left handers to the left. Again remember to keep your elbow locked. This will limit the amount of movement and provide a consistent delivery.

For a hook, right handed bowlers will turn their wrist to the left at the delivery point. The disadvantage of using the hook ball is you have more movement in your wrist, which can cause a greater margin of error in the wrist rotation. Practise is the key. Also if there is a certified Bowling Instructor or Master Bowler in your area, ask them if they can watch you for a few frames to see something else that may be causing your problem. Take your time, and work on consistency, and you should find that your game improves this season. I hope this helps you, and good luck with your game.

DAVE JOHNSON


Dear Strikeshot.com: (Fivepin)

I am a former 210-220 average bowler. I have been struggling with my game for the past two months, where my average has dropped over 10 points. I feel like I am forcing my ball. How can I get back the comfortable feeling I used to have as a competitve bowler? I lose my confidence more with each game. I don't hit the middle enough and I miss a lot of spares.

Thank you for your question on improving your bowling. I think that in bowling, everything comes back to:1. Timing 2. Lift 3. Rotation. A few things to consider are:

A. Try keeping your eyes on your spot until the ball rolls over it and hits the pins. Also, hold your follow through position until the ball hits the pins. This way you will keep your head down and eyes on your spot more often.
B. If you are forcing out your ball, try to have your body moving forward and coming up when you deliver the ball. A lot of times, even the best of bowlers, will reach the line, get planted and swing the arm by leaving the body still. By leaving the body still, you will force the ball out and invariably miss your spot, thus missing your target pins.
C. Also, forcing the ball out and missing your head pin can also be caused by trying to throw the ball too hard. By doing this, you may lose full control of your follow through and swing your arm either out or across your body instead of bringing the ball straight out in front of you.
D. Also, try to make sure your body is square to your target and your trailing leg is directly behind you and arm fully extended out on the lane after delivery. By doing this, you will be more balanced on the line and will have more control of your follow through.

By practicing the above, even when going for your spares, you will find that your overall game will improve.

DAVE BISSOONDATT


Dear Strikeshot.com: (Fivepin)

My biggest problem is that I keep dropping my shoulder. What is a good way for me to over come this? Also I seem to have a lot of trouble on my corner pins?

Dropping the shoulder is a common problem with bowlers - it happens to all of us at one time or another! Keep your head & shoulders in a level position - the best thing to do is to keep your eyes focussed on your target arrow as you go through your approach & watch the ball roll over your target. As for corner pins, go "cross alley" to hit the corners. Remember to face your intended target pin - draw an imaginary line between the target pin, your target arrow, & you! Walk in a straight line to your target pin; keep your eyes on your target arrow; release the ball out on the lane; follow through to the pin; & watch the ball roll over your target arrow. If you're hitting your target arrow but still missing the pin, adjust your starting position on the approach by a board (ie. move in the direction that you're missing the pin on).

FRAN CLARKE


Dear Strikeshot.com: (Fivepin)

I'm in the junior league, and my average right now is 114. Although the PLAYOFFS start this Saturday, can you give me some advice on how to bowl properly, Please?????? I need information so badly!

"Bowling properly" takes time & practice. It takes time to develop the skills required to become a better bowler, & those skills need to be practiced & refined as you grow (physically & mentally)! Did you read Dave's article in the February Coaches Forum? He spoke about "sticking to basics" - that's the best place to start. Make sure that you know what your target is (eg. do you look at the middle arrow when going for a strike?). Draw an imanginary straight line between your target pin, your target arrow & you. Follow that line as you go through your approach, keeping your eyes on your target arrow. Your approach speed should be a natural pace (like taking a walk in the park!). Release the ball out over the foul line & remember to follow through to your target pin. Watch the ball roll over your target arrow. Keep working on these basic things, & you'll become better. Becoming a better bowler takes practice & perseverence. Get one of the instructors to watch you & help you with the fundamentals of your game. A second set of eyes can be very helpful.

FRAN CLARKE


Dear Strikeshot.com: (Tenpin)

While bowling my 3 game series the other day I was super frustrated and unlucky. In total I left 15 ten pins during the night!! In my execution I threw a perfect 2nd game but I didn't on the score sheet. I was in the pocket all night but the 10 pins just wouldn't go down! How can I adjust to carry that darn 10 pin??? P.S.What do you do to calm your "butterflies" when you need a strike to win a big tournament??

What's happening when you're leaving the 10 pin, is that you're not creating enough angle of entry to the pocket and the 6 pin gets knocked around the 10 pin instead of into the 10 pin. The solution is therefore to try and create more angle. There are a few ways to do this. One is to create more side spin when releasing the ball, this will create more backend and in turn create more angle. Another is to back up at least 6" from your starting point (note: you have to finish at least 6" behind your end point), or you can try to move your feet one board left or right from your stating point. And lastly you can do a 2:1 adjustment, meaning move 2 boards with your feet and move 1 board at you target, both in the same direction. Try each of the possible solutions, see which adjustment suits you best and hopefully you won't see another 10 pin!
When it comes to calming those butterflies, my immediate recommendation is to breath! A few deep, calming and cleansing breaths should tame those butterflies. But I will also recommend you read a sport psychology book which emphasizes relaxation and visualization techniques. These techniques will help bring you back to your zone, a place of comfort and confidence.

DIANE BUCHANAN