Consistent strikes are hard to get. We’re not telling you anything new here. If you’ve had any experience wielding a bowling ball, you know how hard it is to be successful and repeat on-lane success frame after frame. Maybe your left foot slides a little too much. Maybe your straight ball doesn’t travel the straight line it really needs to. Maybe you’re playing with a house ball and thus using a heavier ball than you really should be using.
Whatever the case may be, the bowling alley can quickly turn into a house of horrors for those who struggle to keep their arm straight and their strike ball pumping.
Lucky for you, we’re foul line to pin deck experts. And while we can’t make bowling balls spin and track the pocket more out of thin air, we can help you refine your approach so you can stabilize your ball roll and regularly bowl strikes game every time you play.
We’ve put together a list of helpful bowling tips to increase your scores and your confidence for the entire time you’re out at the alley. Just a few tips are all it takes to help you turn ten pins into zero pins with ease.
12 Ways To Get A Strike In Bowling Every Time You Throw
1) Zero In On The Pin Pocket
For a right-handed bowler, the best shot is a ball that starts on the right side of the lane and curves towards the space between the one pin and three pin (the 1-3 pin pocket.) For a left-handed bowler, the best ball is one that begins on the left and arcs towards the space between the one pin and two pin (the 1-2 pin pocket.) Whether you use a slight hook, a relatively straight shot, or a big sweeping curve, these pockets are basically buttons for crazy pin explosions.
Don’t aim for the head pin. Aim just to the side.
2) Straighten Out Your Bowling Arm
Your entire bowling arm swing is critical to your performance at the bowling alley. Your bowling hand needs to be firm but pliable. You have to keep your wrist straight. Your fingers should be in the finger holes down to the second joint, or the first joint for a fingertip bowler. And most importantly, you need to keep your arm straight on the backswing and as close to your body as possible. In addition, your hand should always come up to shoulder level on your swing.
Straight arms increase power and control. And they help you track the pocket much better.
3) Right Foot, Left Foot, Power Step
If you’re not familiar with the concept of the power step, it’s time to get acquainted. The second-to-last step of your approach is your power step. For left-handed players, that step should be taken with your left foot. For a right-handed player, the power step should be taken with your right. Whichever power step leg you use needs to have a pronounced, repeatable bend that propels your final slide with the opposite leg. To consistently hit your footwork is to consistently get strikes. Work on your steps and your scores will soar.
4) Lighter Balls Save Scores
You may want to prove yourself by throwing the heaviest ball possible, but don’t spend money on that 18-pounder just yet. A lighter ball in a well-placed spot can actually rev up more and send pins flying into each other with higher efficacy. If you want to bowl a strike over and over, you need to watch how the pins hit each other. You can try to bulldoze them with a heavy ball, but that might not be enough to get all the pins to fall all the time. Get comfortable with a lighter ball and get it spinning. Your scores will thank you.
5) Release The Ball Low
Your downward swing is the key to making things break differently in your favor. Release the ball at the very bottom of your swing from your first ball to your last ball, no exceptions. If you release the ball too early in your swing, you will lose velocity, and pin action will suffer. If you release your shot too late, you’re in for a rude bounce and a ball that’s extremely hard to control.
6) When The Ball Curves, You Win
The handshake position isn’t just for making deals anymore. It’s also a key throwing element for upping your strike counts considerably! Curves increase bowling scores. It’s a proven fact. Sharpening your angles towards the pin pockets increases pin carry and thus adds to your strike totals.
For a left-handed bowler, that means keeping your wrist straight and rotating your thumb to the 2 o’clock position. For a righty, do the same thing but rotate your thumb to 10 o’clock. Release your ring finger and pointer finger just right, and end with your hand outstretched like it’s receiving a handshake.
This takes plenty of trial and error to get right, but you’ll get more traction and more pin violence once you get it down!
7) A Balanced Approach Is Critical
Are you missing left consistently? Your approach is probably imbalanced and off-kilter. Is the ball veering right? It’s likely the same issue.
Use the dots behind the foul line to position your feet and try to keep with a straight four-step approach before your shot. If you’re a right-handed player, try to assume your starting position with your left foot directly to the right of the center dot. If you’re a lefty, start with your right foot directly to the left of the middle dot. If you miss left, move farther left. If you miss right, move farther right and try again.
You have the entire lane to play with. Adjust your approach until you’re consistently hitting the pocket. That’ll make the strikes pour on in.
8) Stop Looking At The Pins
Aiming for the pins isn’t the way to make the pins disappear. It’s actually the best way to anger and embarrass yourself with repeated splits and open frames!
Instead of targeting the pins, use the arrows in the middle of your lane to guide your ball. Righties should try to consistently guide their hook shot over the second arrow from the right. Lefties should make their target arrow the second one from the left. Keep aiming for the same arrow, adjusting slightly for off hits. You’ll be glad you did.
9) Your Follow-Through Makes All The Difference
If you don’t follow through with your arm swing, most lane oil is going to swallow your ball up whole. Bad form on your throws causes your accuracy to drop considerably and your revs to drop big time. Less accurate throws with less spin mean fewer pins will fall. The right speed can’t help you out when your swing is in disarray. Keep your arm going strong after your release and things will go much better for you.
10) It Takes Practice, And Then More Practice
You can’t bowl strikes consistently without bowling strikes. More aptly, you really can’t make it as a good bowler without bowling more often. Bowling is a sport that’s feel-based and groove-based. When you find your rhythm as a bowler, it’s usually the result of countless hours being out of rhythm at the lanes. Keep practicing, keep pushing, and keep implementing these best practices. The more your play and the more work you put in, the more strikes will come your way.
11) Invest In The Right Ball (Your Own Ball)
If you’re serious about becoming a better bowler, it’s time to get a custom ball. A house ball can only take you so far, especially considering that the finger holes weren’t drilled with your particular hand in mind. When you have your own bowling ball drilled with your specifications in mind, it becomes a comfortable extension of your bowling hand. And the best way to bowl a strike is to be comfortable with every aspect of your throw. Bowling balls matter. The right one for you is the right one for increasing your averages.
12) Have Fun And Loosen Up
Bowling isn’t a life or death thing. It’s a game. The best bowlers know how to compartmentalize failure and laugh at themselves. Did you throw a gutter ball? Let it go and laugh about it with your buddies. Did that split really grind your gears? Breathe, drop your shoulders, and don’t make the same mistake twice. When you’re too wound up, you’re more likely to screw up. Have a good time, kick back a bit, and just do your best to throw your best. The results will come. The smiles should always be there.