Whether you’re playing on a normal house oil pattern or a complex oil pattern in an amateur or professional tournament, changing your bowling target is a key adjustment for keeping your scores in good order. Especially if you’re working with a wicked hook shot, you might have to change your target to deal with heavy oil conditions or depleted lanes.

And if you’re just struggling to hit the pocket with consistency, a target change might be your best bet for upping your scores.

If you’re unsure how to adjust your bowling target, keep reading. We’re here to help you adjust your bowling targets, find your groove, and turn open frames into strikes and spares.

How do you set your bowling target for an accurate throw?

For bowling beginners, there’s less of a need to explore target placement. You grip it, rip it, and often just hope that the ball hits the pocket with a big bang! However, that rudimentary system of approaching the game can only get you so far — especially if you’re trying to compete in leagues, amateur tournaments, or in other bowling competitions.

In comparison, advanced bowlers are always looking for an edge and for ways to create more pin carry havoc when they bowl. If old systems stop working, many top bowlers devise new ones to push their scoring averages to new heights.

The main way that bowlers adjust their approach is by changing their bowling target. For right-handed bowlers who throw a straight ball, the best starting target is usually somewhere between the middle arrow and the first arrow to its right — give or take a board or two. Crossing boards 21-24 when throwing a straight shot is usually a solid recipe for success.

For lefties, the space between the middle arrow and the first arrow to its left is a smart way for a straight shooter to hit the 1-2 pocket. Crossing boards 16-19 is a smart play.

In short, use the arrows to set your bowling target and adjust accordingly depending on how light or heavy you hit your pocket. If you’re a hook bowler, you’ll have to adjust and adjust big time. You may start your slide a few boards to the left or right of the middle 20 board, trying to hit the 10 board on the release point. However, your particular shot might require more alterations to hit the pocket just right.

That’s where adjusting your position comes in.

What are the ways bowlers can adjust their position to hit the pocket?

Adjust your target by changing arrows on the lane.

By changing which arrow you focus on when throwing, you can pick and choose the best sightline for hitting the pocket. However, there is a major difference between how many boards you move left or right with your eyes, and how many boards the ball travels left or right towards the pins. You might have to angle your body slightly towards the left or right or find a new wrinkle to your footwork to groove the ball into the pins with a target arrow adjustment.

Improve your positioning by moving your feet and your starting position.

By changing the board your sliding foot touches, you can adjust the line of attack with which you approach the pins. However, you’ll need to have mastered your sightline to make this work to your advantage. If you overcorrect with your footwork, you might hit the pocket weakly or not at all! And once again, adjusting your feet by one board has a much bigger effect in terms of board distance that the ball moves down the lane. Be aware of that and adjust your shoe positioning accordingly.

Watch how your ball attacks the pins when you play and adjust during the game.

A great way to adjust your target is to be mindful of how you’ve been hitting the pocket throughout your bowling day. Does the end of your shot seem a little light? Are you hitting the head pin straight on and leaving nasty splits over and over? Make a slight adjustment to your arrow target or your foot positioning and see if it helps or exacerbates the problem. Adjust accordingly and fine-tune until you find the groove you’re looking for!

How much does changing your line or target affect where the ball hits the pins?

Moving one board with your arrow target means four boards of movement at the pins. That’s a massive difference and could lead to all sorts of score-dipping chaos if you’re not careful. Train yourself to make very small adjustments with your arrow targeting if you’re just a board or so off at the pins. Overcorrecting at the approach is only going to make things worse on the scoring display.

Moving one board with your feet is equivalent to three boards of movement at the pins. It’s not as drastic as changing your target arrow. But, it’s still a very large gap between how you shift your positioning and where the ball makes contact with the pins. Be smart with your position shifts and take baby steps left and right for small adjustments.

Closing Thoughts

Interested in improving your bowling scores? Tired of loading your balls back into your bag with a disappointed feeling? Work on your target placement! Be mindful of how each move with your eyes or your feet changes your luck at pin impact. Make small, smart adjustments and work hard to keep your shot form in line. The smarter you are about adjusting to lane conditions and your struggles, the better off you’ll be at the lanes.