In every sport, there is a starting point, a ready position. Without a consistent ready position, it is difficult to end up with a consistent resultant. In bowling, your starting point is a reliable and effective body stance. The objective is to align your lower and upper body, and to set your body posture in consistent alignment with your intended target.
When initially placing your feet on the approach, you line up with the foot that you slide with since that is the foot you end with. That will best ensure that you have the same reference point from your starting position to your ending (ball release) position. Place your feet anywhere from 1 to 4 inches apart with the tip of your ball-side shoe even with the sliding foot arch. That places your initial feet position in a stable position.
Feet & Lower Body Position
One of the least understood, primary keys to good bowling is the stance. When discussing the placement of your feet in your starting position, it is advantageous to match the placement of your feet according to your intent. Positioning your feet positions your hips, and therefore naturally positions your lower body.
Pointing your feet:
Your body position and pointing of the feet are different considerations. A good starting position for your feet is to space them slightly apart much as you would in a natural and comfortable position.
Your sliding (non-ball side) foot should point directly down your intended walk path., and your feet placed solidly on the approach. This establishes a solid foundation and positions your lower body that most closely matches the position you want to finish in at the foul line
Lower Body Position
The lower body position should be aligned with your intended path.
When you move your ball side foot back, you open your hips, pointing your lower body toward the outside of the lane.
When you move your ball side foot forward, you will close your hips, pointing your lower body toward the inside of the lane.
A recommended starting position slightly opens the swing of the ball toward the outside of the lane. A ball released in this manner moves outward as it skids down the lane, and then hooks back into the pocket. This approach uses a release and ball designed to hook back into the pocket.
To achieve this intended ball motion, you want to position your ball-side foot 4-6 inches back of your sliding (non-ball side) foot. This will open the hips and lower body about 5°-7°.
If the outward path of the ball is too severe, moving the ball side foot forward lessens the outward path of the ball by closing the hips and lower body alignment.
Placing the feet side by side aligns the lower body with the intended path of a straight ball.
Consider not opening or closing your body position when targeting corner pins. To optimize the potential of hitting a corner pin, move to the opposite side of the lane. Square your feet and hands, and point your feet directly toward the corner pin.
The hips and lower body should be balanced with your upper body position.
Hand and Upper Body (shoulder) Position
Hold the ball with the large majority of the ball weight in your non-bowling hand. This lessens the muscle tension in your bowling arm and promotes a free arm swing. More on this later.
Hand positions relative to one another establishes the angle of your shoulders. The shoulders can be open or closed, and should result in an upper body angled toward your intended target.
It is important that you position your upper body toward your intended target. Imagine a line that extends from the ball-side shoulder, through the ball to the target. This line establishes the intended path of the ball swung freely. An upper body and shoulders positioned toward your target helps to achieve this intended line of your ball swing.
Placing your non-ball side hand forward or behind of your ball-side hand determines the angle of your shoulders.
If the non-ball side hand is placed forward of your ball side hand, the shoulders will naturally open as well.
If you move your non-ball side hand back, you close your shoulders, and point your shoulders [upper body] more away from bowling side.
The shoulders should be slightly tilted about 1” to 2” lower on the ball-side due to the added weight of the ball. This presets the basic position expected during the release of the ball, and helps maintain good balance resulting in a natural, loose approach and release. Also, by lowering your ball-side shoulder, your head is naturally more in line with the ball, providing an enhanced eye-ball-targeting line. The old concept of keeping the shoulders square places unnecessary stress on the shoulders, and ignores stresses placed on the shoulders due to the weight of the ball, and should be avoided due to the increased level of body stress.
Stand in an upright, natural manner without locking your knees rigidly. Instead, loosen your knees into a bent forward and inch or two in a comfortable position. It is not advisable to bend your knees deeply. This can cause difficulty as you attempt to begin your approach in a near-natural walk.
The combined ball and body weight distribution on your knees should be equal, maintaining a comfortable, even position on your knees to ensure consistency. Standing on one foot or uneven weight distribution places undue stress and imbalances that should be avoided.
Posture and Spine Position
When explaining posture in the stance, presetting the feet naturally presets the angle of the lower body. The position of the hands should match the preset feet, and align the upper body. It is also important to maintain a balanced spine position in your stance.
Position your body comfortably to distribute the weight of the ball and body evenly without placing stress on any individual portion.
If the torso is straight, the spine should be inclined forward about 15° in the position of the stance, and the knees bent slightly forward. This posture promotes forward motion when beginning the approach.
The torso should remain straight, without leaning to one side of the other with little or no side angle. An uneven body angle places undue stress on the bowler that requires adjustment during the approach. This imbalance should be avoided in order to maximize the possibility of a consistent approach.
We need to put these components together in a cohesive picture that matches our intent. So, summarize our stance key points.
You control the whole body position by positioning your hands and feet. You should match the hands and feet toward your intended target. You want to always set your feet and hand position to match your intention.
If you open your feet and close your hands, your body is unbalanced, and confused as to what is intended. Always match both your hand and feet positions toward your intended target.
If you want to release the ball more toward the ball-side channel, you would open both your feet and hands toward your intended target.
If you drop your bowling side foot back, you should match your hand position by moving your non-bowling side hand forward accordingly. This keeps the whole body aligned.
If you want to release the ball further away from the ball-side channel, you would close both your feet and hands toward your intended target.
If you move your bowling side foot forward, you should match your hand position by moving your non-bowling side hand back accordingly. This keeps the whole body aligned.
If your intention is to throw the ball straighter, you always match both the feet and hand position in an even position.
The shoulders should be slightly tilted about 1” to 2” lower on the ball-side due to the added weight of the ball, and presets the basic position expected during the release of the ball, maintaining good balance. This results in a natural, loose approach and release.
The spine should be inclined forward about 15° in the position of the stance, and the knees bent slightly forward. This posture promotes forward motion when beginning the approach.
Starting on the approach
To find the length of your approach, stand with your heels at the foul line and take the number of steps in your approach back toward the start of the approach area. Then add about another 1/2 step to account for the slide. This is the distance from the foul line at which you should start.
Center the ball square to the inside of the right shoulder, or between the shoulder and chin. Have your forearm resting against your side and support the ball with your non-bowling hand.
Remember to slightly flex your knees and have a slight tilt forward with the upper body. You should feel more weight on the balls of your feet rather than your heels.
Feet Position; Stance; Holding the Ball; Focus; Relax
A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.
When you don’t have a good beginning, stress becomes part of making things right.