A Good Bowling Arm Swing

A Good Bowling Arm Swing - Picture Of a Girl Bowling

A good bowling arm swing could be your way to a better game. In order to develop consistency and accuracy, you might want to check your swing.

Maybe your friends are telling you that your arm swing is not straight. A good bowling arm swing stays straight and inline with your head.

You should listen to your friends if you really want to improve your game. It is a nice straight half circle that stays in the same place all the way through the entire swing plane.

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A Good Bowling Arm Swing Looks Like This

Watch in the following video how pro bowler Chris Barnes and Team USA Head Coach Rod Ross  describe the different steps involved in making an accurate bowling shot.

Your arm swing is crucial for consistency in today’s game. Team USA Head Coach Rod Ross teaches you the four keys to a consistent arm swing


The Result of a Good Bowling Arm Swing-Accuracy

I know myself, that I tend to blame the ball, or the lanes and the lane conditions.However, more often than not it is simply the bowler, basically You. Changing balls, or making adjustments on the lanes won’t help until you become accurate with your shots.

Staying consistent will improve accuracy. Learning to hook to ball, and get a strong finishing ball to the pocket will not achieve good results until a consistent accurate game is developed. The best way to do it, is hands down to develop a good bowling arm swing.

Start With the Crossover Step

Make that first step(using 4 steps) or 2nd step(using 5 steps)on your approach crossover to allow a straight swing. This gets your leg out of the way and allows for a straight arm swing.

I am here to tell you, this will make you game much easier. If you remember to bend those knees before you start, you will feel much more balanced, just try it and see! It works!

The 4” Swing Slot

The 4” swing slot in bowling, or swing groove as it has been referred to over the years is simply an area within 4” vertically that keeps the ball in line with the head.

Even this amount of room allows for a bowler to get the ball behind his back and finish up to the outer side and not throw an accurate shot.The straighter the swing the better the shot.

The swing slot is the path your arm takes while it makes the half-circle motion from start to finish to deliver the ball.It is a vertical line that is mentally drawn perpendicular to the alley, between the ball and the target you are trying to hit.

As we become more educated in different areas, we tend to forget the basics, and the need to return to them. One of the basic ways to do this is becoming aware of your swing slot.

The more you are able to stay within the 4” straight line on your swing slot, the better you shot accuracy.


This is the point. Be consistent! If we keep everything the same, in a straight line from the start to the top of our arm swing, through to the point of release, on each and every shot, our scores will improve.

We can’t see the problems in our arm swing, so it is necessary to have others who know what to look for watch us bowl to see where you are making mistakes in your swing.

This is no new concept, you see it in all sports.The golfer and his path of club swing, the baseball player and his bat swing. Any variations are going to change the area of impact and result in more misses.

Keeping your eye on your target and the ball in line with your dominant eye, or basically your head in bowling. Simply keep it straight, relaxed with a good follow through bringing you arm up through your target.

What Causes a Bad Arm Swing

A few of the common causes of a poor arm swing are:

Improper Ball Fit

The cause could be a poorly fit ball. Many bowlers use balls that were originally drilled for someone else.

They don’t realize, a problem in the fit, could cause them to grip the ball too tightly and cause muscle tension to develop in their arm.

This will affect each shot you throw, so have your ball checked for proper fit.

Muscle Tension

Trying to help the ball, or force more turn on the ball, creates muscle tension witch actually make you grip the ball even tighter, and actually takes the turn off the ball.

A relaxed throw, where you let you hand and wrist fall down and back slightly bringing the thumb out first, and allow the ball to rest on your fingers while you follow through imparts more rotation on the ball. Since you have a relaxed grip, the ball is released cleanly, and you get a more accurate shot.

Improper Footwork Leads to Improper Balance

When you don’t use the cross over on the first 2 steps of your approach, you start your swing with the ball out too far from your body. You then get the ball behind your back on your back-swing trying to miss your leg on the back swing.

Then as you come forward, you have to get the ball around your body, and likely throw the ball outside of your target too far, or hold onto the ball and pull it inside your target.You are completely off balance as well.

 Let the Ball Fall Naturally – Don’t Pull the Ball Down

Be sure you start a nice straight push away swing. Follow with a relaxed back swing,then a  relaxed forward swing.Keep everything inline with your head, and your target.  

Try to let the ball fall naturally down from the top of the backswing. Do not pull the ball down and help make the ball go faster. It is almost impossible to make a good inline shot to your target, when you help the ball.

I didn’t realize this on my own.  I was told about it by others watching me struggle with inaccurate shots. You can not improve without getting others to watch your style.

As I concentrated on my swing, I discovered that to be my problem. With some focused practice, of allowing the ball to fall naturally, I quickly got my shots back on track.

Once you regain your scoring ability, and watch your scores improve, it just doesn’t get any better that that. The enjoyment returns to your game.

Focus On Your Target

Focus on your target, sounds so easy, but seems to get harder as we get older. As you take your first steps, keep the feet lined up (crossover) in your first two steps.

Keep your dominant eye inline with your target. Following with the head (slightly lowering the shoulder) over the target line. The arm swing should be following where the head is looking at the target.

Be sure you are watching the ball until it rolls over the target you are aiming at.
As you reach the foul line your plant foot should be within 6 ½ boards of your target.

Don’t Muscle Up

Finish with the arm swing going right up through the target.I was always told not to “muscle up” the swing. You have to keep a relaxed shoulder and arm and allow the ball to follow through naturally.

You have to resist the temptation to help the ball. I am guilty of helping the ball, causing bad shots, and it is a hard habit to break.

Next time you start having trouble hitting you mark ask your friends to look at your arm swing. You may just correct your problem.

Take a look at Pete Weber’s swing. He executes the cross over step perfectly, keeps everything in line, and delivers a nice shot. Notice that he is wearing his signature glove on his bowling hand.

Now if only I could just do that!

If you like what you read, or disagree, please tell me by leaving a comment below. I  answer all my readers promptly.


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16 thoughts on “A Good Bowling Arm Swing”

  1. I enjoy bowling but don’t do it often enough.  Your website is very informative.  I had no idea of the intricacies of bowling.  I found your advice on bowling shoes very helpful.  Although I am not sure I bowl enough to warrant buying bowling shoes, I dislike rental shoes enough to make buying shoes worth it.  Your article inspired me to try to control and use my hook which is erratic to say the least.  Thank you for this article.  I am going to be bowling more often.

    • Hi Anastazja,

      I love to hear people enjoy bowling.  If you don’t bowl that often, it is hard to justify buying your own shoes. But,if you dislike those bowling rental shoes, then the comfort may be worth it to you! I disliked the thought of everyone else having their feet inside those shoes…uggh! 

      If you are trying to throw a hook, you need to join a league where you bowl every week. I find it more enjoyable to throw the hook, but it requires almost constant practice for me to maintain good control with it. Another article you may find helpful is Hook Bowling and Getting Started.

      Thanks for leaving a comment!


  2. Reading about the good bowling arm swing brought back nostalgic memories for me. I remember when I used to be huge on bowling. But I bowled only for fun with my Polish friends who introduced bowling to me. while I enjoy a good game, I was always poor with the arm swing. 

    Its funny but after reading this article a good bowling arm swing, I can actually see all the things I was doing wrong. The improper balance, muscling up just did me in every time. I did try to get the proper fit for the balls but still didn’t get those shots.

    This article has ignited again, my love for bowling because I am interested in putting some of these tips into use. Nice one, Chas.

    • Hi Vapz,

      So, I took you down memory lane, eh? Wonderful! I love to hear stories of people all over the world who enjoy the game of bowling! You can tell when people love the game because the try to read up on the sport!

      You are welcome, Vapz! Hit those lanes and have some fun! you can read more tips in Hook Bowling and Getting Started

      Thanks for leaving a comment and Good luck with your game!


  3. Hi! That was quite a lecture on bowling. Reading through your article, with the way you aptly put it down, opened my eyes to the importance of having a good arm swing and how this helps me to be consistent and accurate.

    The causes of bad arm swing you listed are so true, especially the improper footwork, it can throw me off balance for sure.  I struggle with my footwork and balance on the slide step. I am always falling off my shot, and that affects my arm swing.

    Thanks for your tips, focusing on one’s target can lead to a better result.

  4. Good job in posting this review on a good bowling arm swing. I must say that your time and effort to put this review together is really appreciated. I also read your article on Bowling with Middle Finger Pain, and wondered if it could also cause a poor arm swing? I agree that imperfect fit is really a cause for a lot of pain. 

    I know personally, pain in the middle finger can take a while to treat and heal. As a result, pain and improper fit may impede a good bowling arm swing. Your article is really informative and educative and I have bookmarked your site for further reading. Thanks for sharing.  

    • Hi Fortune,

      Thanks for the kind words, and I am glad you liked the article. I suppose you could have you focus distracted by a lot of pain, and you may clench the ball tighter.

      This can definitely affect all the mechanics in your bowling game. The Release in Hook Ball Bowling is another part of the game affected by poor fit and finger pain.

      Thank you for your comment and I welcome you returning in the future.


  5. This is  very detailed information on a good bowling arm swing.  It is also very timely, I have been watching some  videos about my arm swing lately.  I personally love the game, so I really took the time to carefully read through the article.

    With the guidelines you outlined,  I have really learned a lot, I must confess.

    Thanks for also highlighting the causes of bad arm swing.

  6. This is such a great and timely article for me.  My husband just joined a Bowling league, and some of the ladies and I are going to pick up games here and there while the guys are bowling.  I don’t wan t to fully commit to a league, but I do enjoy bowling.  My husband is actually pretty good, but me, not so much, but I’m going to have him sit down and watch this video and read this article with me, and thanks so much.

  7. I have always loved bowling and it has always been a fun sport for me and I must say, I am a good bowler but this article made me realize that I lack some basic skills. After reading this article, I will definitely practice more and work on training my arm swing to become a good bowling arm swing! Thank You!

    • Hi Linus,

      When you find a sport you love to do, you will enjoy practicing to improve your skills to get better. And I can tell you, that by improving some basic skills your game will improve dramatically.

      Thanks for leaving a comment, and please come back soon!


  8. Awesome post! I’ve been bowling for about a month now, after starting my new job and finding out that the sales team goes bowling every Wednesday night!! 

    I must admit, the first two weeks I started bowling I was pretty terrible, but now that I’ve been researching the fundamental bowling techniques and been practicing them, it really has made all the difference. 

    I’m the kind of person that does well to read about something and have the mental mechanics down before I try it physically, so i’m benefiting a lot from your blog!  

    Thanks so much for the in-depth instructional technique of a good bowling arm swing, I will try to apply what I’ve learned next week when I go back out in the lanes 😉 

    • Hi Koda,

      Thank you, I am glad you found the article helpful.You will find the more you research the game, the better you will become. You may also enjoy reading Hook Bowling and Getting Started for more tips.

      Thank you for all your kind words. Check out the other articles in the beginners section for Free Advice On Rental Bowling Shoes and learn about those rental bowling shoes!

      Thanks for the great discussion and leaving a comment,Koda. Please stop back soon for more advice on your bowling game. Good Luck!



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