Dear reader — we’re here to tell you a secret about the game of bowling.
When you’re just starting and drinking a few with your friends, you may not know the difference between an effective bowling stance and stumbling over the foul line.
But, no matter what you’re thinking as your toss ball after ball into the gutter…
…there’s a really good bowler inside you somewhere!
With a step-by-step approach for bowling improvement, regular folks can go from bystanders to bowlers given time. Maybe you bowled a bit in high school and fell off in recent years. Maybe you’re new to things and just don’t wanna suck too bad.
Whatever your motivation is, it’s admirable that you want to get better. Beginners don’t become experts overnight. But, the will to change your approach and try new things to become better at the sport will eventually turn open frames into spares and strikes.
Enlist the services of our tips-and-tricks guide below and you can improve your arm swing, your release, and even your approach to finding the right finger holes and bowling ball weight for you.
Without further ado, let’s get rolling!
How do I get better at bowling?
1) The right bowling ball goes a long way (get away from that house ball as soon as you can!)
The first time you hold a bowling ball in your hand, you can usually tell whether or not you’ll be able to throw it or not. If you can barely steady on your feet and deliver it down the lane, you know you’ll likely need to drop the weight a pound or three.
However, the right bowling ball is about more than the right weight. For right-handers and left-handers alike, the right ball works as an extension of your arm and swing. If the finger holes don’t fit right, it will be extremely hard to get the right grip to maximize your ball speed. If the weight is distributed awkwardly, your wrist might suffer the consequences (as will your bowling score!)
If you have to use a house ball, take a trip around the alley before you start aiming for the pins. Try a few practice shots with the balls that feel right. Choose the one that feels best and most consistent coming off your hand.
Don’t be content with that house ball, though! As time goes along, it will pay to get a custom bowling ball drilled to fit your fingers and playing style. The right custom bowling ball will be essential to take your game to another level given time!
2) Focus less on your bowling score and more on your form and placement
When you’re just starting, your score might be closer to your bowling shoe size than you’re comfortable with. It happens to us all! Very few people are born a bowler.
However, your initial scores are less important than getting the basics down pat. You’re not going to be playing for Team USA right away. Heck, you may never get to that level.
But, the ones who get better at bowling are the ones that block out the open frames and gutter balls and find their groove. Is your ball veering off towards the gutters? Tighten your swing and shorten it a bit.
Does it work better when you focus on the arrows down the lane or the head pin? Pick the visual that gets you the results you want.
Is the second arrow to the right just not working for you when it comes to your release? Move over and find your own way.
All the bowling articles in the world may help you with the initial navigation stage of the game. But, it’s up to you to breathe and adjust and find what works best for you.
3) Relax your throwing arm before you release the ball
The muscles of your arm shouldn’t be doing all of the work when you throw a ball. Neither should your wrist. Your shot should be a balancing act between where you target, your approach, your swing, and your release.
When you bowl, your body’s momentum plays a pivotal role in the results down the lane. So does your equilibrium and patience. Instead of tensing your arm up in ways that could lead to injury if you’re not careful, try to relax your arm and use your step approach to do the rest. Find the starting spot that works best for you and work from there. Get your swing timed with your steps, adjusting to the oil pattern only when you’ve got the hang of things.
4) Work on aligning with your target every time you throw the ball
Remember — hitting the center pin dead-on is not the goal of a good bowling shot. If you want to do real damage to the pins, you want to find the pocket — the spot just to the left or the right of the center pin.
For different bowlers, finding the pocket means different things. For some, that means hitting the right arrow headed down the lane. For others, that’s keeping their eyes on the pocket and following through.
Whatever it is for you, keep your eye on the prize!
5) Balance speed and power for added oomph
A heavy dose of lane oil can turn flamethrowers into gutter ball specialists. All the YouTube tutorials in the world can’t save you when you’re overthrowing at the line.
When you bowl, high speeds can help. But, there’s a difference between top-speed throwing and finding real power when your ball hits the pins. Keep company with some of your alley’s best bowlers and watch what they do. Some may not be the fastest throwers in the world. But, they make up for it with violent pin carry because of how they maximize their approaches and swing.
If you can find that balance, you’ll be better off frame by frame, game by game.
6) Learn some bowling techniques for an added edge
7) Invest in good equipment such as bowling shoes and custom-drilled bowling balls
Do some research online. Look for the bowling equipment brands that people trust like Storm, Brunswick, Hammer, and so forth. Go on Google and look at reviews for everything from balls to bowling shoes to bowling gloves.
The sign of a good bowler isn’t just a great throwing style. It’s someone who invests in the proper equipment to protect themselves from injury while upping their game. Beginners may want to wait a bit to shell out hundreds of dollars on a ball and gear. The more times you play, though, the more you’ll realize that good equipment is an essential piece of the bowling puzzle.
8) Move away from your favorite bowling center and try out other bowling lanes
As soon as you’re done reading this article, we hope you’re pumped to head down to your local bowling alley and play a few games.
However, different bowling centers provide different challenges. To become a better bowler, you have to approach bowling like the sport it is. That means testing your mettle with different challenges and adjusting accordingly.
Your local lanes may set up their oil patterns completely different than one ten or twenty miles away. There may be more or fewer distractions around you at a given time. Thus, your approach may have to vary wildly to succeed at different alleys.
Rather than settling into one alley and staying there, branch out!
What is the 31 Rule in bowling?
Once you get the basics down in bowling, it’s time to start reading the lanes. And there’s no better way to do that than with the help of the fabled “Rule of 31!”
A bowling lane’s oil pattern determines the breakpoint of your shot — the part of your roll where the ball begins to move towards the headpin. To begin their breakpoints at the exact right place every time, most expert bowlers use the Rule of 31 to tweak their shots.
Count how many feet your bowling alley’s oil pattern covers. Subtract that number by 31. The result should be the board where your ball begins its breakpoint. For right-handers, count boards from one on up from the right side of the alley to the left. Switch that around for lefties.
It may take you a while to get to this point, but the 31 Rule can do wonders for you as you start to learn more!
You can become a better bowler with time and practice!
Bowlers come in all different categories and styles. Bowling skills aren’t dictated by age, throwing speed, or gender. Anyone can be a great bowler given time, practice, and maybe a little bit of luck.
Every time you bowl, you’ll learn something. Keep on bowling and keep on learning. And while you’re at it, use this article to help you out. You’ll be glad you did.