Will Bowling Ball Speed Control Work Better for You?

Bowling ball speed control tips are something I wanted to share with the newer bowlers who have come to my site, thank you! I still enjoy the sight of seeing properly thrown bowling ball as it journeys down the lane; it’s a sight to behold.

But, it doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of practice to develop the skills necessary to get everything right.

The speed of your ball is going to control your success. It’s more than just a number on the monitor, it’s a pivotal element that dictates the amount of carry generated between the ball and the pins. Gaining an understanding of your ball speed lays the foundation for the art of consistent bowling.

The result is precision and control becoming your allies.

It’s not just about throwing the ball as fast as you can. The way your bowling ball interacts with the lane conditions is crucial. You’ll notice that a ball hurled with the appropriate speed tends to have a better entry angle into the pin deck, maximizing its energy upon impact.

This, in turn, enhances your pin carry – (the likelihood of knocking down more pins), especially the corner pins.

Related: Adjusting For Changing Lane Conditions

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Ball Speed Control Is a Balancing Act

Controlling your ball speed is critical, but it can be a double-edged sword. Excessive speed may rob the ball of its hook potential, sending it straighter than desired. The ball is going to slide, and won’t gain the traction it needs to hook.

Conversely, too little speed may cause the ball to hook too early and lose its drive and power before it reaches the pins. Achieving a reliable and consistent speed is your ticket to repeatable shots, forming the bedrock of a game that can adapt to the ever-changing conditions of the lanes.

Let me share this analogy: imagine bowling as a conversation between the ball and the pins with the lane acting as the mediator. Speed is the tone of your voice – it can change the nature of the conversation. This tone influences how well your message is received and understood.

Finding that sweet spot where the ball delivers your intent with precision is key to striking up a perfect dialogue.

On this note, let’s talk about a critical component of these interactions, “the lane conditions.” As we proceed, keep in mind that your mastery of speed control doesn’t operate in a vacuum; it requires you to become attuned to the unique characteristics of each lane surface you encounter.

Different Lane Conditions Require Different Adjustments

Every bowling lane comes with its unique personality, mostly defined by its oil pattern. The amount and distribution of oil on the lane will dictate how your ball will react. This simply boils down to the physics of speed and friction.

On oily lanes, the ball tends to glide more, necessitating a bit more speed to maintain a straight trajectory. By contrast, on drier lanes, where the ball grips the surface quickly, a slower speed can be more effective to maintain control and accuracy.

A keen eye and experience play pivotal roles in this adaption process. If you’re bowling on a recently oiled lane, the secret is slow down the pace of your ball to combat that extra slickness. It’s a matter of physics.

A faster ball on an oily lane means less time on the lane’s surface, which equals less hook. Now, flip the scenario – you’re facing a bone-dry lane where every ounce of oil has been bowled away.

Here, you need to keep the speed of the ball faster because of that increased friction trying to make your ball hook sooner.

Heat and Humidity Affect Lane Conditions

It’s not just the ball and lane that are variables; it’s the environment too. Humidity and temperature can subtly alter lane conditions throughout the day.

Your early morning games might require a different approach than your post-dinner matches. Always stay alert to these changes and be ready to adjust your speed accordingly. This is key to your bowling success.

Understanding and tuning into these nuances is crucial, and I’ll show you just how to polish this skill. The following section isn’t just about knowing when to change up your speed.

It’s about strategic shot-making. With the right speed for the situation, you can maximize your scores, regardless of the lane’s temperament.

Switch Up Your Bowling Ball Speed Control For Different Shots

I understand when we are bowling, no two shots are ever quite the same. Selecting the right speed for your shot isn’t just a matter of power; it’s a thoughtful strategy.

Different shot types—like strikes, spares, and splits—often require subtle changes in speed to maximize your chances of knocking down those pins.

When you’re staring down the lane at a difficult split, for example, increasing your ball speed slightly might just do the trick.

It will allow your ball to cover more distance before it starts to break(or hook). In contrast, a gentle touch and a slower ball might serve you better for a spare on those freshly oiled lanes.

Techniques Pro Bowlers Use To Adjust Their Ball Speed

Pro bowlers excel not by chance but by carefully analyzing pin configurations and adjusting their speed accordingly.

It’s about reading the lane, the pins, and your own instinct. Take Norm Duke. He has a remarkable ability to adjust his ball speed on the fly, capitalizing on every pin’s position.

Here is a tip from Norm. it is an older video, but the tip is timeless!

His success speaks to the power of speed adjustment—showcasing the necessity of this skill in every bowler’s repertoire.

Now, envision what you’ve just learned moving smoothly into our next topic. After recognizing when to switch up your speed, it’s crucial to know HOW.

That’s where practice drills come into play. Developing an intuition for the right speed takes time and practice. The more you drill, the more natural these adjustments will become.

Training for Precision: Drills to Enhance Your Bowling Ball Speed Control

Speed in bowling is more than just power. It’s about the right application of force, timing, and precision. I know from experience that mastering these aspects requires practice, and specific drills can help you develop a keen sense of speed control.

Let’s start with a simple yet effective exercise: the one-step drill. Stand a short distance from the foul line—just enough for one step.

Focus solely on your swing and release, with the aim of hitting the same speed each time. Keeping the approach short eliminates variables, allowing you to concentrate on your arm swing and release. Try raising and lowering your backswing to get the feel for the difference in speed.

A higher backswing increases your speed, while lowering your arm backswing slows the ball down.

Another drill I recommend is the no-step drill. It centers on your release while you remain stationary. You’ll get to feel the weight and momentum of the ball, which is critical in understanding how it correlates to the speed at which you release the ball.

More Drills For Developing Bowling Ball Speed Control

Sure, here are some more practice drills you can add to your content for improving ball speed control:

3-Step Speed Ladder Drill:

  • Set up a 3-step ladder a few feet in front of the foul line.
  • Take your normal three-step approach, focusing on maintaining a consistent rhythm and tempo.
  • As you take your final step, focus on releasing the ball at the same point each time, regardless of speed.
  • Vary your backswing height to adjust your speed. A higher backswing will generate more speed, while a lower backswing will produce less speed.
  • Use a radar gun or bowling app to track your ball speed and make adjustments as needed.

One-Arm Swing Drill:

  • This drill helps isolate your swing and release, making it easier to feel the connection between your arm and the ball.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the ball with one hand in your bowling grip.
  • Take a normal three-step approach and focus on swinging your arm back and forth smoothly.
  • Release the ball at the same point each time, focusing on getting a clean and consistent release.
  • You can also vary the weight of the ball you use to make the drill more challenging.

Target Practice Drill:

  • Set up cones or pins at different distances on the lane.
  • Practice throwing the ball at different speeds to hit the targets.
  • This drill helps you develop a feel for how different speeds affect the ball’s trajectory.
  • You can also use this drill to practice specific types of shots, such as hook shots or straight shots.

Mental Visualization:

  • Take a few minutes before each practice session to visualize yourself throwing the ball with perfect speed and control.
  • Imagine the feeling of the ball in your hand, your swing, and your release.
  • See the ball traveling down the lane and hitting the pins perfectly.
  • Mental visualization can help to program your muscles and mind for success.

Bonus Tip:

  • Use a metronome to help you maintain a consistent tempo during your approach. This can be especially helpful when you’re first starting out with speed control drills.

By incorporating these drills into your practice routine, you can improve your ball speed control and take your bowling game to the next level.

Utilizing a radar gun or a bowling app that measures ball speed can be immensely beneficial. With real-time feedback, you can analyze your performance and make precise adjustments to your throw. Remember to keep a consistent practice schedule; that’s how you engrain these skills.

Incorporating these exercises into your routine is the first step. But what’s equally important is translating these skills onto the lanes during actual play. Next, I’ll share with you some tips and tools that can help you maintain your newfound speed control.

The Bowler’s Toolbox: Tips for Maintaining Optimal Ball Speed

I want to highlight a few practical steps you can take to maintain a consistent ball speed. Developing good habits off the lanes is just as crucial as practice on the lanes.

Regular cardiovascular and strength training exercises help cultivate the stamina and muscle power necessary for controlled deliveries.

Getting the right accessories can also give you an edge. Consider wrist supports that promote a consistent release and having your ball customized for your grip and style of play.

Finger inserts are a definite advantage for getting more hook on your ball. And getting you ball drilled for more or less hook makes a huge difference.

These tools are by no means a substitute for skill, but they can help prevent physical strain and encourage uniform throws.

A Pro Tip: Norm Duke In Slow Motion

Here is another video of Norm Duke in slow motion. Pay particular attention to Norm’ ball swing. He keeps the ball tight into his body and moves his leg just in time to allow a path for the ball.

Pay attention to Duke’s footwork and body mechanics. These are important for generating consistent speed.

Don’t try to copy Duke’s exact style. What works for him may not work for you. The important thing is to understand the principles behind his technique and then adapt them to your own game.

Above all else, never underestimate the power of a focused mind. Mental preparation is key. Visualization techniques before each shot can keep you calm and collected, ensuring that your chosen speed is not only a physical choice but a tactical one as well.

Combining Physical Training With Mental Focus

In conclusion, mastering ball speed for varying lane conditions and shot types is about a blend of physical training, using the right equipment, and nurturing a focused mental approach.

Dedicate time to develop each aspect, and you will see your consistency improve, paving the way for peak performance in your bowling scores.

There is no substitute for delivering the ball on the same trajectory every time. You will get more strikes and pick up more spares when you master your bowling ball speed.

Good scores and good bowling!

Bowling Ball Speed Control FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
Why is ball speed control important in bowling?
Mastering ball speed control is crucial for consistent and accurate throws. It impacts how the ball interacts with the lane, affecting its entry angle, pin carry, and overall effectiveness. The right speed maximizes your scoring potential and adaptability to different lane conditions.
How can I determine my ideal bowling ball speed?
Finding your ideal speed is a process of experimentation and feedback. Start by observing how your throws react on different lane conditions. Notice if excessively fast throws skid or lack hook, while slow throws lose power and reach. Use a radar gun or bowling app to track your speed and adjust based on the results.
What are some exercises to improve ball speed control?
Several drills can help hone your speed control:
One-step drill: Focus solely on your swing and release with a short approach, experimenting with backswing height to adjust speed.
No-step drill: Stand still and focus on release feel and ball weight, understanding their connection to speed.
3-step speed ladder drill: Maintain consistent rhythm and tempo with a three-step approach, releasing at the same point while varying backswing for speed control.
Target practice: Throw at cones or pins at different distances to develop a feel for how speed affects the ball’s trajectory.
How can I adjust my speed for different lane conditions?
Oilier lanes require slightly more speed to maintain a straight trajectory, while drier lanes benefit from slower throws for better control and hook potential. Observe the lane surface and adjust your backswing and release accordingly.
What equipment can help with ball speed control?
Wrist supports can promote a consistent release, while finger inserts encourage increased hook potential. Properly drilled balls customized for your grip and style can also aid in consistent throws. Remember, consistent practice and good form remain key!
Bonus Tip: Utilize mental visualization before each shot. Imagine your ideal speed and release, programming your mind and muscles for success.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, leave them below and I will get back to you ASAP.


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4 thoughts on “Will Bowling Ball Speed Control Work Better for You?”

  1. Hi there,

    Great article; I loved the reading!

    My daughter is a big fan of bowling. Every weekend, she goes to play with her boyfriend. He always wins, but she doesn’t give up:) I didn’t know that the speed of the ball plays an important role in succeeding in bowling. Good to know!

    I’ll share this article with my daughter so that she can develop her skills with the great tips you listed.I am sure this time she will win:) 

    Thanks a lot for this great article!

    • Hi Daniella,

      Thank you, glad you liked the article. The speed of the ball makes a difference in the pin carry. You can throw too hard and actually blow through the pins leaving nasty splits. If the ball would have been slower, it would have created more pin action, resulting in more pins.

      The speed is most critical when you throw a hooking ball. The hook increases your chances of getting strikes by giving you a slight angle into the pocket. Thrown too hard and it slides too far, and throw it too easy and it hooks too soon.

      I don’t know if your daughter will have a fantastic day from reading the article. But, if she takes the time to practice some of the drills. I will bet her bowling will improve!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my article. Please stop back soon.


  2. These were some very interesting bowling tips Chas! It’s definitely given me a lot to think about for the next time I go with my friends (hopefully I’ll be able to impress them!). I wouldn’t have thought that factors like heat and humidity, having an oily lane, etc. would cause you to have to adjust your speed/technique, but this makes a lot of sense! I appreciate you including Norm’s tips as well and for reminding us that we have to find a style that works for us. The article overall has given me a much deeper appreciation for the art of bowling!

    • Hi Chase,

      I am glad you found some value in my article. Bowling alleys that turn the heat down overnight, cause the lanes to seem really oily first thing in the morning, but they settle down as they warm up after a few hours.

      If you have an early league and they put the fresh oil on those cold lanes, you would swear they put down a more difficult shot. But, it is really just the temperature affecting the oil. That’s where a slower ball speed is needed.

      The opposite occurs when the alleys don’t have the air conditioning on. It breaks down the oil and causes it to thin out and make the lanes seem drier. When that happens, you must keep your ball speed up.

      Norm Duke is phenomenal! He has been around quite a while, and his tips are timeless! 

      Thank you for taking the time to leave such a nice comment, please stop back soon!



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