Getting Started

Bowling is a sport that, from beginning to end, the experience of being able to have fun, progress and gain some mastery of your sport. Most sports have a signature methodology to best ensure its inherently satisfying to say to yourself,  here’s where I am and I’m going to do something; there’s a goal and I can reach it.

In order to get rid of some of the guesswork, at this stage, given the simple task of rolling a ball down a 60 foot path to knock over some sticks, it is advantageous to consider how to get prepared, how to hold the ball, how to stand, and how to get started bowling.  Theses guides can prepare you for getting started.

Before Getting Started, Remember Etiquette

Good manners are expected whenever we interface with others.  Whether it is amongst family members, business associates or in most any other individual.  Manners are polite (pleasant) ways of treating other people and behaving in public.  The problem is, good manners differ from one social group to the next.  That is where etiquette comes in.  Etiquette is a set of rules governing socially acceptable behavior.  Most bowling centers, and the USBC has a written or stated etiquette.

It’s never a bad idea to refresh our understanding on bowling etiquette, but where to start.  The basis for establishing local or tournament etiquette begins with the USBC as stated in the USBC Rulebook. 

These basic rules are essential, and used by serious bowlers and recreational bowlers.   This provides a basic understanding amongst all bowlers and establishes rules that ensures everyone have fun at the bowling center.

Now, we can usually identify those bowlers who are simply too serious.  A few very serious bowlers use rules of etiquette to restrict, discourage and exclude others.  They resent bowlers who excel, seniors, children, teenagers and most anyone who threaten them in some way.  This is not the purpose of written or stated rules of etiquette.  The primary objective of etiquette is to ensure that everyone is treated courteously and with respect.

There are neophytes new to bowling who are oblivious to the rules of bowling etiquette.  A lack of understanding or ignorance of when to be on the approach, knowing how and when to yield to an adjacent bowler is understandable and forgivable, because it’s not obvious.   Unsafe behavior needs to be corrected immediately. These folks can be educated with a simple courteous chatting.    Bowling etiquette essentially is respect for those you share life with.  Where there is an opportunity, your bowling center would do well to display your bowling center etiquette.

Before Every Shot, Comes the Pre-Shot Routine

The pre-shot routine calms you physically, helps renew your focus, and minimizes distractions that often ruin your delivery.  Establishing a pre-shot routine should enhance and not complicate your bowling.  The pre-shot should be simple, meaningful and calming.  A lengthy pre-shot can actually be detrimental if you do it on the approach and “over-think” the shot. 

Perform your routine prior to each ball delivery.  The pre-shot routine begins as you move toward the ball rack, and before you pick up your ball. It should only involve triggers that move you toward making a consistent ball delivery.  We can see pre-shot routines in almost every sport.  You see it in golf, baseball, track and football.  Making it part of your bowling can enhance your enjoyment and performance.

While most bowlers don’t do everything, let’s look at typical pre-shot components you may want to consider:

  • Recognize your surroundings.  What is happening around you as you step toward the approach such as a split on another lane or pointless chatter should be tuned out?
  • Check the pins to ensure they are all there and on spot
  • Prepare your ball towel, folding and unfolding it before picking up the ball.
  • Take slower, and deeper breaths
  • Visualize.  Take a mental note what adjustments you will make for this shot.  Cement your strategy to gain a mental image of the next ball delivery DO NOT wait until you are on the approach to do this.
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Dry your hand with your rosin bag or towel.
  • Dry your hand with the air dryer to ensure dry fingers are placed in the ball.
  • Move behind your target line where you plan to establish your stance
  • Pick up the ball with both hands, and cradle the ball in your non-bowling arm. 
  • Wipe off excess oil from your ball.
  • Ensure your ball is at the correct height, and your hand is in the position that reflects the ball reaction you intend.
  • Step on the approach and set up your stance as you designed it for this shot
  • Look at your target, zone or target points, and picture the path you want your ball to take
  • Repeat a positive thought as you visualize where and whatever you want to do.  Examples: “Steady Speed”, “Wait for the ball”, “Stay Aggressive”, “Follow Through”, “A Good Stance and a Good Finish”, etc.
  • Pre-shot triggers should be productive; it does matter that you do it every time and you are aware of what you’re doing.  Some pre-shot routines may even be humorous or part of a mental game you play with your competitors.  The pre-shot routine is a discipline that leads toward fun bowling.
  • Concentrate.  Clear Your Mind, your focus is on your bowling, and you are calm.
  • Take a deep breath and exhale, then bowl!

Being prepared mentally on and off the lanes is THE most critical phase of bowling. What good does it do if the only thing you are thinking about on the approach has nothing to do with your next ball delivery?  The idea of a pre-shot routine is to better ensure a positive outlook; a technique to achieve success in whatever your next task is.  This is true with bowling, most any other sport or any other aspect of a successful life.  Bowling, after all, is a great place to learn how to focus, how to perform well, how to approach each shot in life, and how to interact with those who enter your life.

We talk about heaven being so far away. It is within speaking distance to those who belong there.

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.