Advanced bowling tips and techniques will help get you back on track.Especially when you are having one of those nights with too many of those annoying single pin spares.This advice will help you to convert those spares and result in more strikes. After watching countless hours of videos and reading many articles, I found some advanced bowling tips and techniques to share along with tips I have used often myself.
It is on those nights,where it seems you are hitting the pocket well, but you just can’t seem to stop leaving that same pin. Whether it is a 10 pin, 7 pin or 5 pin, we need to find out if this is bad luck or a mistake in your bowling.Once you figure out how you ball is going through the pins, you can make the move for strikes.Use these advanced bowling tips and techniques for more strikes in your game.
Advanced Bowling Tips and Techniques High Hit
A high hit for a right handed bowler is a miss to the left. Miss left, move left. Move in the direction of the miss, or a half board left with your feet and keep the same mark. Some say don’t move, because it was just bad luck.
My take on that is, I would try just a slight adjustment. Why? Because it could happen again, so I would try to adjust.
This is how you continue to string strikes, so move for strikes!I know sometimes I have waited too long to make an adjustment, and paid for it!
I did not realize that a 4 pin left standing is the first indication for a high hit for right handed bowlers. Or the 6 pin leave was a high hit for left handed bowlers. So, that said, what do we do to stop that and make the move for strikes?
You need to adjust the location of entry to the pocket or reduce the angle of entry. When bowlers hit light in the pocket, most of the pins left standing are easy to convert to spares. But, hitting higher and higher into the headpin, eventually leaves some nasty splits. Not what any bowler wants to do.
The Most Common High Hit Pins Left Standing
A right handed bowler, hitting high in the pocket, will leave one of these combinations.
- Single pins: 4,6, and the 9 pin (usually a strong hook or too much angle)
- Two pin combinations: 3-6,6-10, 3-10(baby split) and all types of splits including 4-9,4-10,7-10.
- Other multiple pin combinations: 4-6-7-10(big four),4-6-7-9-10(Greek church),4-6-7-8-10(Greek church)
To correct this mistake you need to change location or change the angle of entry. To do this you need to increase ball speed to delay the hook. Or change you visual target farther down the lane, to change your body tilt and flatten out your downswing. This tends to send the ball farther down the lane, and delay the hook slightly.
Walter Ray Converts the Big Four A TV First
The Solid 8 Pin-The True Tap
What causes the solid 8 pin to remain standing? It is called the true tap in bowling. Most people think that you drove the 5 pin directly back into the pit and neither the ball or the 5 pin touches the 8 pin.
In a correct carry for a strike, only four pins are hit, the 1,3,5 and 9. then those pins in turn take out the rest of the pins. But,on the solid 8 pin leave, the head pin hits the 2 pin butt first. Then it hits the 5 pin and deflects the 5 to the right. The ball drives the 5 pin straight back. While the head pin deflects and rings around and missing the 8 pin, and the path of the ball misses the 8 pin to the right.
How the True Tap Happens
So what causes this to happen? While this is referred to as the only true tap in bowling, in reality it is a bit high on the head pin. If you watch the video carefully you can see the cause is a flush hit just slightly high on the head pin, and looks like a beautiful shot.
But it is not quite the perfect hit, the ball never gets to the 5 pin. Then,because the head pin deflects into the 5 pin first, and the ball never gets the deflection from the five pin. No 5 pin to deflect the ball and force it’s path into the 8 pin. And in rare cases, a light hit will also leave an 8 pin as well.
Advanced Tips and Techniques For More Strikes
One way to try to avoid the 8 pin leave is to increase the speed on the ball slightly to allow for a lighter pocket hit. That should allow the head pin to deflect better and let the 5 pin get hit cleanly by the ball.
You have to remember that the distance the ball is off is less than an inch, and truly about 1/2 of an inch. So these round surfaces of the pins and the ball create strange results sometimes.
If you have too much hook, not cupping your wrist as much or staying behind the ball and not coming around the side of the ball, would also help to cut down on the hook of the ball.
Looking farther down the lane at your visual target, might give you enough length to delay the hook just enough to strike.
The Solid 9 Pin
What about that solid 9 pin that remains standing once in awhile? Well, first of all you should be hitting the 1,3,5, and 9 pin if your ball is thrown correctly and acting properly.
I have seen a slightly high hit throw the 3 pin directly into the 6 pin and the ball deflect left to roll beside the nine left and never touch it. This is normally the pin that big hook throwers leave. The ball hits the pocket, but has so much angle it does not deflect enough and goes straight thru the 1,3,5,8 instead of the 9 pin.
How the Solid Nine Pin Leave Happens
A Few More Advanced Tips And Techniques
Their are probably plenty more tips that other bowlers could add, and I am only naming a few that come to mind. Many factors can affect your bowling. Too little sleep, or not warming up properly just to name a few. But, I wanted to include a few more thoughts as well. as well.
Is Your Angle Too Steep
You should begin to think about your angle being too steep and reducing your hook. If you are coming around on the ball, stay behind the ball and impart more roll than hook. Cup your wrist less and bring your speed up slightly to get the ball down the lane. You can increase the speed of the ball by higher push-away or higher arm-swing.You could look farther down the lane past your visual target as an adjustment as well. Only practice and trial and error will help you discover what works well for you.
You could do nearly the same move as the 8 pin, move slightly left maybe 1/2 board and throw the same ball just slightly inside the same line but keeping the same break point to cut down the angle slightly and bring the ball just a bit lighter on the head pin. This would be changing the location and gaining deflection on the ball and that should cause the 3 pin to be hit and driven back straighter and allow the ball to hit the 5 and deflect back to hit the 9 pin.
If you had a weaker ball, that had less angle to the pocket, that could also be a solution, giving you a straighter line to the pocket, forcing the ball to drive through the 9 pin.
The 7 Pin Left Standing
How about the 7 pin? What is causing the 7 pin to remain standing? I normally leave the 7 pin(right handed bowler) when I hit light in the pocket, or throw a faster ball without enough lift to get the hook I want.
I also find that getting my arm too far from my body, or getting my elbow out and coming around on the top of the ball, causing a bad release and improper lift to hook the ball properly causes a 7 pin leave also.
And in some cases both the 5 and the 7 are left together. This could be caused by just throwing the ball too fast. Try slowing the ball speed down just a bit first, and see what happens.This could be all the adjustment you may need. Looking in front of your visual target will get the ball to hook slightly earlier as well, if you got a good release and proper arm swing.
No Drive, No Five
So what about leaving a 5 pin? I have often heard good Bowlers trying to coach me say”no drive, no five”. Why are they saying that? It means you are not getting good lift on the ball and the cause could be you are not releasing the ball properly.
If you are staying behind the ball too much, you are producing a full roller and not enough revs on the ball to “turn the corner” and get the ball into the pocket deep enough. This is one way to cause a 5 pin to remain standing.
If you are leaving a 5 pin consistently, the one of a few things are happening.The ball is rolling out or using up its energy too early. Or the ball is not strong enough to get to the pocket because of a heavy oil pattern, and is skidding through the pocket.
A Weak Hit
This can also be caused by a lighter ball deflecting too much on a light, weak hit as well. If you are using a lighter ball, try to switch to a more aggressive cover, or dull surface ball.
A ball that is rolling out too soon can also cause a weak pocket hit and too much deflection of the bowling ball.So what does the term rolling out mean? It means you ball stops hooking too soon and is in a full roll too long before it hits the pocket.
The ball has used up all it’s energy and hits the pocket weak, resulting in poor pin carry. Move into the oil for skid to save energy, or choose a shiny cover to allow the ball store up energy.
You Need a Good Release For Advanced Tips And Techniques To Work
If it is a ball that is rolling out, and you move into the oil to produce a stronger hit, and it works, great. However, like I stated, you must be releasing the ball properly as well. Too much spin on the ball, and not enough lift, is likely going to leave 5 pins, as well as the 5-7 split. Here is more information about The Release in Hook Ball Bowling.
In fact, right handed bowlers who hit light on the head pin, will possibly leave one of the following combinations.
- Single pins: 10,5,7,2 and on rare occasions an 8 pin.
- Two pin combinations: 5-7,5-10,5-8,2-8,2-10,8-10, and 7-10.
- Other combinations:2-8-10,2-4-5-8(bucket),1-2-10 washout, and the 1,2,4,10(washout)
Determine you are getting the right amount of lift on the ball. Too much hook will cause “turning the corner” too sharply to the pocket. To correct this, move your feet right(for right handed bowlers) and moving again into the oil to get less friction.
If you miss right, move right! If you miss left move left.
Move Your Visual Target
Another trick is to move the visual target closer to you. This will change the tilt of your body slightly, and sharpen your downswing angle. The result will be a ball that rolls earlier and hooks a little sooner. Thus giving you a slightly higher hit on the head pin.
Move up a few inches with your feet, if you have room. But keep in mind, this changes where you end up at the foul line. If you have room fine, but don’t do it if you think you must take shorter steps.
This will mess your timing up. Keep you footwork the same, to keep your timing the same. If you don’t have room, don’t do it. By room, I mean how close is your slide foot to crossing the foul line.
Change Your Revs
Increase your hook or revs on the ball,by cupping your wrist more. This allows you to hit the ball with more finger snap. And, this increases the turn on the ball slightly to give you more axis tilt. The result is a sharper angle of entry to the pocket.
Slow your ball speed by lowering the ball at the push away. Or, if you start with your ball down, lower your back swing slightly to reduce the speed of the ball. This allows the ball more time to hook more.
I have had bowling balls that have soaked up more oil than I realized. The saturated cover won’t allow enough friction for the ball to react properly. They just won’t hook.
Clean the Ball
Try cleaning your ball between shots, maybe a few times in a row. This will get the ball surface clean enough and create enough friction and increase hook. After bowling, be sure to deep clean your ball before your next league. To make the ball cleaning chore easier, I use the Bowling Ball Rejuvenator
Try some of these techniques and see if you turn some of those 9 counts into strikes. As a result, you will get higher scores!
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14 thoughts on “Advanced Bowling Tips and Techniques”
i have been bowling for over 50 years. My average has been around 160 to 180 . But my 16 pound ball is really too heavy and i can not part with it but i must. Arm, shoulder and legs are giving me trouble and i am bewildered. Non-bowlers beat me now and it is difficult to cope. Do i go to a 15 or 14 pound ball and what of the spare ball which should be lighter and straighter. i feel as though i must learn all over again for another 50 years. Thank you.
I do Apologize for my late reply, a lot to do with the COVID 19 and dealing with all the changes..Anyway, I can tell you that droping down to a lighter ball WILL make a world of difference for you. Myself, I dropped from a 16lb ball 20 years ago! I was ready to quit bowling, my knees hurt, my back hurt, elbows, you name it. I felt like I was being beat up everytime I bowled! My pro shop guy suggested going to a lighter ball, so I dropped to a 15lb, and immediately noticed a great relief! I bowled with the 15LB ball about 4 years, and felt like I needed to go lighter, so I went with a 14Lb ball and still throw one today. My suggestion to you would be to go right to the 14lb balls for your spare ball and strike ball. You don’t have to do that, but I think if you go to a 15lb, you will need the 14lb later on….and the 14 is so much easier to manage, and easier on the body! I average 185 with mine and it takes some getting used to…but so much less pain overall, I can’t recommend it highly enough! You also have to change both spare and strike ball together, because it just messes you up. I had a 15 and 14 for awhile, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as both balls being the same weight. Hope that helps?
Chas thank you for answering me some time ago. My wife passed after 56 years of
marriage and bowling like many other things have been put aside. I now will pick it up again and i will get two new balls, 14 pound each. My hook is a mess and i am
trying to learn after 50 years a fingertip ball instead of a full fingered. I am almost
ready to tell the shop to forget the finger tip and go back to full fingered. How long does it take to get accustom to the new tips. My average now is about 145 instead of 185. I think i should try checkers where knees, hands and shoulders are not to involved. Thank you for reading and sharing. Richard
Sorry to hear about your wife passing, you have my sympathies. An emotional event like that affects your game for awhile also. I went through a divorce after 42 years of marriage and it really hurt my game. I would say that I know guys who have gotten used to it after two games, and others who have struggled for weeks. It depends, but it is not a race,relax and go with it. I loved the control I got with the fingertip drill, but it felt strange for quite some time. I bowled conventional for ten years or more, then switched to fingertip and I remember feeling like you are now. But, I went with it, kept it up till I mastered it. At that time my average with conventional ball was about 150. With the fingertips it was 172 the first year and kept climbing each year around a 195 consistently, 205 was my best for a year.
I will tell you I was very lucky to work with a very good bowler who asked me if I wanted to bowl on his team. I told him I wasn’t that good, but I would like to learn to throw a hook. He said he would teach me, so my league career began. He was a very good bowler! During my time bowling with him, he was elected to our local “Hall of Fame”! He’s dead now, but he rarely bowled less than a 600 series, almost 700 or better every week, 36 three hundred games..and I witnessed at least 6 of those three hundred games. I bowled with him and his two sons, and a grandson and let me tell you, each one regularly bowled 600 -700 as well, so to say I was “carried” each week would be putting it mildly! I felt very appreciative to have such bowling talent surrounding me(intimidated too!) How could I quit throwing a fingertip ball!! I wanted to be as good as them…well, that never happened, but I got good enough to enjoy being a pretty good bowler.
My best advice to you is take a few lessons from a good bowler who coaches! I was told to do that when I first started to throw a hook, it helped a lot. Also, have the pro shop guys watch you bowl and see what they can see you may be doing wrong. Ask them to check your span and be sure your ball fits properly. I personally use finger and thumb inserts, and the fingers need replaced periodically. And, I use a wrist support.
Talk to the guys that throw a hook(the good bowlers), ask them their advice, everyone has their own opinion, so you will hear 100 different things. And most important..Practice, Practice, Practice!
Hope that helps, good luck, and stick with it!
Chas again thank you for your advice and concern. i just came from
bowling and did well on the strike balls but extremely lousy on the spares. i am trying to hook the spares and it definitely is not working. i have decided to start picking up my spares with my strike ball. i can hook if nothing else. my highest game was 188 and it could have been better if i could figure out that dreaded spare combination. i want to give up but i am not going to, oh not yet. be safe and God bless you. richard
Hey a 188 that’s good!..you have to love those strikes! The spares are a bit tricky for awhile, but you will get it!! Remember, you are going through heavy oil in the middle when you throw spares, so the ball won’t hook as much. especially if you have a light oil ball.
As for spares, I can tell you how I do it. I have a spare system that uses the dots on the alley. Basically, it is based upon the 2nd arrow (10 board) dot and I move several boards to compensate for which pin I am aiming for. I generally target the second arrow (Dot) for my strike ball. I watch my ball go over the dot(before the arrows) then watch the ball roll over the arrow and follow the path down the lane into the pocket. I will adjust a board or two(with my feet,throwing the same mark) to the get my ball lined up to carry the pins. So, when I shoot spares for pins on either side of the rack, I move generally two or three boards(with my feet) to change the path of the hook to pick up spares. This is a system I learned from reading Marshall Holman’s book. I stand as far left as I can and use the area between the second and third arrow for my ten pin..and I also use a plastic ball that does not hook!
For my 4pins and 7pins, I move right about 5 boards and using the same strike target 2nd arrow DOT and trust the ball to hook enough to pick up my 7pins…maybe a board more for the 4 pin…after awhile you get a feel for how you need to adjust for conditions. and you will get more automatic at picking up spares.
You can also just throw straight for spares, by having a plastic ball drilled for your fingertip drill and aim straight(be sure it is not a plastic ball intended to hook!)
I talk about this aiming in depth in my article Bowling Tips And Tricks
and also Advanced Bowling Tips
You can also get Marshall Holmen’s book on Amazon. Here is the link https://amzn.to/3h23spD His sparing technique is timeless!
..I think they have used books for like $6.99. If you have Prime it ships free. Otherwise, I generally order a few more things and spend the $25 bucks to get free shipping! I have to admit, I really liked to watch Marshall Holman as a youngster…he would get so upset! He was the bad boy before Pete Weber.
Anyway, One thing they always told me was to “trust the ball”. You have to “allow for the hook” and “trust the ball” to hit where you want it to hit.
Hope that helps…keep at it…you will be glad you did! I promise you! A hook makes the game more challenging and interesting, but helps you become a better bowler as a result!
Enjoyed reading your article. It’s difficult to relate to the info because I am left-handed. Trying to reverse everything in my mind is mind boggling. I am a 79 year-old Senior, carrying about 170 average, bowling with a 13 lb. ball in 2 leagues. I leave the 7 (as well as the 4) a lot. Also the 6-10 (which I don’t have a problem with). My average would jump up if I didn’t miss the 7 or chop the 4-7. Don’t think I have the power or weight for the strikes, but I’m ok with that if I knew what to do to avoid that dreaded 7. I have improved converting it with the spare ball, but sure would like to know what I’m doing that I leave the 7 so much. Thanks for any help.
I am delighted you enjoyed the article! I understand how confusing it is to try to switch things around for the other side of the pin pocket. Believe me when I tell you, I leave many ten pins myself, and some days it seems no matter what you do, you still leave those corner pins. Check out The Dreaded Ten Pin…good videos you can slow down and watch what happens!
BTW It is wonderful that at 79 you are bowling in two leagues!
When you bowl try to watch what happens when you leave the 7 pin…if the 4 pin is in the gutter or ringing around the seven pin ,you hit is too heavy(too high) on the head pin.
Try this. When that happens, look out past your mark(your target spot) on the lanes about 6 inches farther down the lane. This will help you get the ball to travel father down the lane and delay the hit in the pocket. The result should be a lighter hit on the head pin and hopefully cause the desired 2-4-7 carry you need.
You can also move right a board(with your feet) or move your target a board(or even a half board) left.
Now if the 4 pin is driving straight back into the pit and missing the 7 pin inside, then you need to reverse the above adjustment.
You can do what ever you feel will get you ball to react more to the head pin and a heavier hit. You can look in front of your mark and set the ball down sooner, and (depending on the oil) you should be giving the ball more lane to travel and it should come into the pocket heavier. In turn it should give you the desired 2-4-7 carry.
In this case you would move right with your feet or move you target board to the left.(1 board or a half board)
Here is another trick I use. I target my shot using the dots that are halfway between the foul line and the arrows. When I am leaving the corner pins, it is normally later in the evening when the oil is breaking down. I will move my target from the dots to the arrows on the alley. This helps me change the action on the ball enough (sometimes) to get the carry on the corner pins. But, remember, sometimes no matter what we do, nothing seems to help! All you can do is make your spares!!!
I hope that helps,
Great tips! However, you talk about “lift” on the ball; I have read many articles that say “because of the new coverstocks and the core in the ball, all you have to do is to let the ball roll out of your hand, and the ball will do the rest” (not that simple but, makes sense!).
So… why “lift”?. Thanks !.
That choice is yours. I do both actually. When the lanes are freshly oiled in my particular league, I need to help the ball a little by lifting it a bit. Then, as they dry and my ball starts to bite harder, I soften up on the lift and just let it go as you describe.
It all depends on your style, and what kind of ball speed you have. I have a fairly high ball speed around 15-16 mph, so the ball will not react without some lift. in fact,unless I lift a bit my ball doesn’t turn at all. It has less power and drive through the pins, thus less carry. If you have a slower ball speed, then yes the block and coverstock may strike well for you. Also, I don’t use the most powerful hooking coverstock, some are just too much for my conditions. We have medium oil and when they dry out, I don’t want a ball that is out of control all by itself. I hope that makes sense.
I get a lot more powerful hit when I lift the ball. I just love to destroy the pins and blow them off the deck…lol. It’s my preference, but if just letting the ball go works, that what I will do also! Whatever gets ten pins knocked down over and over works for me!
I thought these were all great tips! My wife and I were looking at different activities we could start doing for date night, and we both thought bowling could be a really good one. Neither of us are all that good. but we still enjoy it. I think we’ll just have to keep in mind what the article says about how only practice will help us figure out what bowling style or techniques will help us become better.
Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for taking the time to comment! As long as you keep it fun and enjoy it! Don’t take it to seriously and you will be just fine. That’s my 2 cents.
This makes me want to head down to the lanes right now and practice. I have gotten really into bowling the last little while, and reading this was a huge help. I really like what you said about being very accurate, and not being off by even an inch. My accuracy isn’t even close to being that spot on, so I will be working on that for sure.
Glad you liked the article.The more accurate you are, the easier the game becomes.The goal is to be that accurate, but in reality, we just want to find the sweet spot where we can get away with the biggest area and still carry 10 pins.The key for me is to bowl often. I am just an average bowler, but I practice, and bowl regularly, and keep myself in the 200 avg area. Good luck on your bowling! Thanks for taking the time to comment.