Holding the Bowling Ball
Holding the Bowling Ball
So, Who is Right?
There are a variety of views on where to place the ball in your starting position. Past schools of thought encouraged placing the ball directly in front or slightly outside of the shoulder. USBC studies have shown this to place the body into an unbalanced position. More correctly, according to these studies, the better advise is to place the ball mid-way between the shoulder and the head. This places less stress on the body and creates a well balanced starting position.
In addition, studies have shown that optimum ball movement is best achieved when the ball remains within a narrow area (the swing plane) during the ball swing while the leg and hip move out of the way of the ball swing. Let’s take a look at how this happens, and why it provides a more consistent ball swing.
Once you have established your starting position, it is important to place your ball in a position where it begins its arcing swing. In addition, this is where you tell the ball how you want it to consistently travel toward its intended target. Something has to get you and the ball moving in a smooth motion ensuring a consistent ball delivery.
Placing the ball between the center of your body and the ball-side shoulder, your body will be balance and comfortable. Other alternatives are counterproductive. Placing the ball outside and in front of the shoulder places undue stress on the bowling arm, resulting in tiring, balance issues and inconsistency. The old school used to teach that you should align the ball with the ball-side shoulder in order to initialize an even ball swing. That, in essence, forces an uneven body weight onto the bowling side, and further forces you to rebalance your body weight as you begin your swing. Consistency begins with a balanced position, and proceeds all the way through the approach.
Who is Holding The Ball?
It is well understood that you should have a free, relaxed arm swing. Still, most bowlers place their bowling arm under tension from the stance through the release, resulting in an inconsistent release. Instead, hold the large majority of the weight of the ball in your non-bowling hand. You do not want the bowling arm tense throughout your swing. Therefore, you don’t want it to start in a state of tension.
Let’s Move the Ball
As you begin a free (tensionless) push-away, your arm tension would be forced to change as the ball swing begins. This change in arm tension creates a state of muscle confusion, and can be avoided. You want to develop consistency, not confusion. In order to keep the bowling arm relaxed, you want it to be relaxed from the beginning, and remain relaxed as the ball swing proceeds up to the release point.
When the hands are placed in close proximity as you would hold a book, the ball is held with the non-bowling hand. As the ball is pushed outward in the push-away, the ball weight is transferred from the non-bowling hand to the bowling hand during the push-away as the body weight is transferred to the bowling-side foot. This is true regardless of whether you take four, five or more steps. This transfer should be practiced until you are comfortable with the smooth synchronizing of the weight transfer of both the ball and the foot. This is a basic key toward consistent timing.
If you don’t feel a simultaneous ball weight transfer to the bowling hand at the same time the ball-side foot is placed on the approach, you can stop the approach and begin again instead of continuing an errant approach.
To ensure a free and consistent ball swing, during the starting position, the large majority of the ball weight should rest in your non-bowling hand and not your bowling hand.
This is the beginning key of good timing. It does not matter whether you take four, five, six or even seven steps. The last four steps of your approach are always the key to good timing and release of the ball. The ball moves forward at the same time as your ball-side foot. The ball weight is transferred to the bowling arm at the same time your body weight is transferred to your ball-side foot. This motion and transfer takes practice … a lot of practice.
The objective is to move the ball in a synchronized motion with your ball-side foot. In other words, the ball should move at the same time as your ball-side foot. Remember that in the starting position, the large majority of the ball weight rests in your non-bowling hand and not your bowling hand.
If your bowling arm begins in a tense state, it is less likely that you can have a free, loose arm swing, and more likely that your arm will tire during your game. Consistency will suffer.
Transferring the ball weight from the non-ball hand to the ball-side hand establishes the first key point of good timing. If you don’t feel the weight transfer simultaneously as you move your ball-side foot, good timing becomes increasingly difficult. This would be a good point to stop your approach and begin again whenever your timing key is flawed. Remember, practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
Where Is Your Head?
Examples from other activities demonstrate where your head should be during the ball swing. Let’s look at a few typical examples.
If you were to thread a needle, you wouldn’t hold the needle off to the side. Instead, if expect to be more successful, you would place your eye directly in line with the thread and needle.
If you were to watch a successful basketball player throwing a free shot, you would find the head directly behind the ball as they execute the shot.
If you closely observe a golfer’s drive shot, you would again find the head placement directly in line with the swing of the club, the ball and the target.
Successful bowlers are no different when considering this principle. In the stance, the head is place directly in line with the ball and target. As the ball is transferred from the holding hand over to the bowling hand, the head position follows the ball, and remains directly in line with the ball and target. The head, or more properly, the dominant eye remains directly in line with the ball, swing plane, and the target. As the ball is released, the bowler remains in place (Posts) in order to properly analyze the ball movement throughout its travel down the lane and into the pocket.
The alignment of the lower and upper body, the ball position, the dominant eye, a free arm swing, and alignment of the dominant eye, the ball and the target is one major key toward consistent bowling.
It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.