Bowling Tips and Tricks

This Bowling tips and tricks article is going to be a bit more for the advanced bowler. In my article on Hook Bowling and Getting Started, I covered a lot of the basics that you would encounter when you decide you want to start throwing a hook ball. I touched on some basic stuff and gave you the introduction. Now, lets get into some more advanced bowling tips and tricks.

Bowling Tips and Tricks #1- Dots, Arrows and Rangefinders

The standard dots and arrows on the bowling lane were covered in the video of bowling basics shown in the Hook Bowling and Getting Started post. Most advanced bowlers use the lane dots either in front of the arrows, or the dots found at the foul-line to target their shots to the arrows on the lane. Most lanes have dots and arrows, but range finders are newer.

Some lanes have range finders near the pins, some do not. Most synthetic lanes will have range finders. These are the long dark boards seen about three quarters of the way down the lane. When you can use them along with the arrows and dots, your line to the pocket is much easier.

Using All Three Help to Make the Complete Bowler

They use the dots on the approach to carefully adjust where they want to stand, on which board, and how far back from the foul-line.The bowler who also uses the rangefinder down the lane as well as the dots and arrows, is going to be a more accurate bowler. He is well on his way to becoming, the complete bowler.

 


The Three Point Targeting System

The three point targeting system is indicating the complete bowler understands the importance of knowing the area in which the ball needs to break to reach the pocket.

This key system is making the bowler more accurate by using a 3 point targeting system on the alley. The dots, the arrows, and finally the rangefinder boards, noting the ball break point on the alley, before it hits the pins.

If you checked out my previous post you will notice the video I used was actually showing the older wooden lanes and does not show any rangefinder boards.

Rangefinders Common Now, Not so Much Years Ago

Years ago these rangefinders were not as common as they are today. These are actually very useful, because they help you determine the exact board the ball is on when it reaches that break point and starts to break or turn into the pocket of the pins.

They also let you know if your ball trajectory is correct, or if you caused the ball to be inside or outside the rangefinder. They can also establish where you need the ball placed to reach the pocket correctly, or if you need to adjust your line by a board or two.

Rangefinder Boards

These boards are three feet long and are darker in color. They are located on the tenth, and thirtieth boards across from each other at 40 to 43 feet. And there are two across from each other located in front of those range finders on the fifteenth and twentieth boards at 34 to 37 feet down the lane.

The purpose of these boards is for the advanced bowler to see exactly where his ball is traveling once it reaches that point on the lane. This is the final targeting before the ball hits the pins, and the markers show the bowler if he is throwing his ball down the lane and arriving at the same board down the lane.

This enables the bowler to maintain the same exact line, and effectively produce the same result time after time. This is critical for success in striking ball after ball, and one of the most important things to master for consistent bowling success. What he is doing is the 3 point targeting approach.


How I Use the Three Point Targeting System

We use 3 point targeting systems all the time. For example, when you shoot a gun, you line you eye with front and rear sights on the gun(2 points) and a point or the target you want to hit.People talk about a 3 point targeting system in bowling, and Joe Slowinski talks about it in the video above. They actually use a specific point at the base of the pins to complete the line.

That is useful information, because if a bowling lane doesn’t have the rangefinder boards on the alley, you then could use the inside or outside of the pins to determine the exact board down the lane, to use as your third point. They have actually broken it down into 5 areas to use for targeting. They are:

  • Beside the pin(2 sides)
  • Bottom left
  • Bottom right
  • Center of the pin.

This enables you to make a very slight adjustment to the angle of your ball.

 

Start on the Approach

bowling tips and tricks -3-point targeting picture of a bowling alley

I can give you the way I use it and you can do what you find easiest for you. Once I am positioned on the approach in the spot I want to be standing in, I use my right foot to line up.

I draw a mental line through all the points I want the ball to travel over. The dot, the arrow (or board inside or outside) and finally the rangefinder board.

Draw the Mental line,  Then Take Note Where Your Feet Are

I then bring my eyes back to my feet, and start my steps, as I step I watch the board I am standing on to be sure of the spot I am going to place my left foot on my slide, as I deliver the ball.

When I reach my final step I look out onto the lane and focus on the exact board and spot on the alley I am using as my mark. Ideally as the ball reaches my foot, my thumb comes out first, and at that exact moment, I follow through and bring my hand(right up through my mark) into the shaking hands with the pins position.

Use the Quiet Eye

I focus on that mark until I see the ball travel over it, then I look up at the next mark and watch to make sure the ball is on target.

Then I continue following the path with the final rangefinder board and watch the break of the ball, and the point at which the ball enters the pocket.

The difference in my targeting is the fact I am using the dots in front of the arrows as my starting point, and the rangefinder boards as my 3rd point.

I have learned from the video above to use the specific spot on the pins to put a finer degree of accuracy and adjustment into my game. I will also try to train myself to use the counting methods for a Quiet Eye and better targeting.


Carefully Consider Your Adjustments

In preparing to bowl in my leagues, if I have used my practice correctly, and made adjustments for aligning the most successful line under the conditions that night, I should see some strikes.

I like to wait until I have had the same problem pin several times before I make any adjustments to the line I am using.

I want to be sure that I didn’t leave that pin because of an errant shot that I caused by change in speed or my bowling mechanics.

Far too often I have made a move and changed the line, only to find myself getting less pin carry, and eventually going right back to where I was originally.

I would then realize it was a poor decision to move for a lane adjustment, when it wasn’t necessary, because it wasn’t the condition of the lane at all. It was me, pure and simple.

Leaving the Same Pin Over and Over

The best practice to use when you are leaving the same pin, is to watch the ball traveling through the pins and make note of how the pins are being carried. If it happens to be you are leaving the Dreaded ten pin for example.

Once you figure out why, maybe the six pin is going to the gutter, and leaving the ten, you can make an adjustment. But you have to be alert enough to watch what is happening on the lane, and respond quickly.

This is probably the most important thing to learn, to be able to realize and see what is happening and respond with an adjustment to correct it.


Rule 31 – The Board the Ball Exits the Oil Pattern

This rule came out in 2005-2006. It established by USBC research. This rule says, if you take the length of the oil pattern, and subtract 31, you will get the board that the ball exits the oil pattern.

It is not the break point of the ball, simply the end of the oil or where your ball will exit the oil in that pattern.

So, for 41 feet of oil, minus the 31, your ball is exiting the pattern on the ten board. It is only telling you when you are out of the oil. It clearly gives you a reference point to start from in a new house or tournament bowling.

Most houses will publish the oil pattern. When they are asked about it, they should be happy to tell you the pattern length.

More or Less Time For the Ball to Hook

31 point rule- chart display

When the pattern is longer, you have less time for your ball to hook back to the pocket.

In that case, you will be playing more to the inside part of the lane. Or you will need your break point closer to the pocket

If you are dealing with a shorter pattern, then you will have to play farther to the outside of the lane.

This will give the ball room to hook to the pocket. Or moving your break point away from the pocket.

It doesn’t really matter how you get your ball to that area, that is where the shot is. Whether you are a cranker, stroker, or tweener, you will need to get the ball basically on that board area. Once you do that , you will score better.


More Bowling Tips and Tricks That Work

Hand Positions to Control Your Hook

When you already know the best target board area, in any particular house, remember this. If you are struggling to get strikes, sometimes you just need a slight adjustment for your pin carry to improve.

I like to use the slight finger adjustment if possible. I will spread my index finger out wide on the ball, when I need to cut down my hook.

Maybe I need a little more hook, then I tuck my finger in against my middle finger. Or you can also spread out or tuck your little finger in against your ring finger. You can also cup your wrist more or go to a relaxed hand in drier lane conditions.

Clean Your Ball

And of course you can also clean your ball using USBC approved ball cleaners to increase hook on your ball. It is a good idea to keep your ball deep cleaned before league play as well. One easy way I highly recommend is to use a Bowling Ball Rejuvenator

The Ball Rejuvenator works! You will be Pleasantly surprised how it also keeps your ball lasting longer!

Footwork and Follow Through = A Straight and True Shot

Make sure you are traveling straight to the mark and using proper footwork. Correcting bad footwork, can turn a bad night bowling into a much better night quickly.

Be sure you are crossing over and turning your hips to get the trailing leg out of the way. Anytime you feel off balance, be sure you are bending your legs slightly before you take your first step.

If you hit your leg often, check to see if you are using a cross over step. Try it next time you bowl, and you will see a difference.

 Arm Swing Controls Your Ball Speed, Not Your Feet

People seem to think it is you feet that control your ball speed, but it is really your arm swing. The higher your swing, the more ball speed you generate. However, to be accurate, you swing needs to be straight and true.

In order to do that, it really starts with your footwork on the approach and up to the foul line. Remember, you need the cross over step to get the hips and leg cleared properly.The result will be a straight, true arm swing.

Three Balls Might Give You Better Scores!

I can’t give bowling tips and tricks without mentioning the bowling balls. Bowling today with the high tech ball and synthetic lanes is different than it was on the old wooden lanes. You have quite a few balls, and different reactions from each that make the choices endless.

The main types of balls I like to carry are a stronger hooking ball, and a slightly less aggressive ball. I also like the less aggressive ball to have a smoother roll to the pocket. Also, I like to use a plastic spare ball for ten pin spares.

The aggressive ball for slick fresh oil, and a less aggressive ball just in case the lanes dry quickly. It is s much easier to have a weaker ball to use, than to struggle with a ball that over-hooks.

Machine Malfunctions Happen

Sometimes is possible to have an oiling machine malfunction. It does happen. When it does, it can result in very oily or very dry lanes. Whatever the reason, it is nice to have something to help deal with dry or oily conditions.

So I have given you some of my best bowling tips and tricks. I will share more as I continue to work on my game.

I am Still Learning

Because, I am still as they say, a work in progress. Anything I tell you is based upon my personal experience and research of the game.

I have always read all I could when I have bowling problems that I need to correct. You will also gain a tremendous amount of knowledge from other skilled bowlers.

And I have tried to practice what I was taught to me by other more skilled players than myself.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed sharing it. If you liked my article, or have any questions, just leave a comment below and I will get back to you ASAP.

Chas

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16 thoughts on “Bowling Tips and Tricks”

  1. Thank you for this article Chas!

    I haven’t bowled in many years, but this article would have saved me some unnecessary embarrassment if it had been around then. The techniques you mention, The 3 Point Targeting System and Carefully Considering Adjustment are excellent tips for the new or veteran bowlers.

    Thanks again,

    Karen

    Reply
    • Hi Karen,

      Well, maybe so!  If you were a regular bowler, then it may have helped some. If you were just bowling once in awhile, then you probably wouldn’t get much out of the article. My article Hook Bowling and Getting Started would be helpful for beginners.And a good read and study of A Good bowling Arm Swing couldn’t hurt either!
      I know before I got into leagues, I just looked at the pins and threw the ball. I didn’t know any better! 

      The three point system is good to use, but it also takes time to develop the accuracy and skill to use it!

      Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to leave a comment,

      Chas

      Reply
  2. It’s been years since I’ve bowled and I’ve really wanted to start it again. You’ve got some great tips here. 

    I remember when my dad was teaching me how to bowl. A lot of these tips he taught me. There’s a lot that goes into getting your hook right.

    I used to watch bowling on TV and it amazed me how these bowlers hooked the ball!But it’s more than skill. The bowl and lanes must be right and you have to get it down to a science.

    I like how you talk about cleaning the ball and having the correct swing too. I just may take up bowling again. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Rob, 

      Thanks Rob! You have to put some time and get the right equipment, and set it up properly, that’s half the battle.Check out Hook Bowling and Getting Started. It explains how to use the arrows on the lane for determining where you want roll the ball on the lane. It’s a great place to start.
       

      The drilling set up and fingertip inserts are what helps the ball to hook. These new high tech bowling balls are also what makes these balls hook so much. But, you have to know where the ball is going and that takes some practice for sure.

      These new coverstocks on the ball drink up the oil, so you have to keep them clean! When you are spending $150 for a bowling ball, you want it to last at least the entire season! Yea, these new balls are done after one season, and sometimes less!!Because they clog up with dirt and oil. What really does help to clean the ball well is the Bowling Ball Rejuvenator They work!

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Chas

      Reply
  3. I do not personally know a lot about bowling. This was a lot of useful information, I will have to go back and read the basic.  My ex on the other hand would love to read this article as he was a very avid bowler.  He was also in a bowling league when he was younger.He tried to teach me how to bowl but I just know the basics, not too bad for a begginer I guess.

    Reply
    • Hi Shy,

      Thanks for reading, and if you need some basic information, there is more articles to read here. If your ex was on a bowling league, he might think of taking it back up again after reading all this information!..lol Ok, I’m kidding!

      Bowling is like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. I bowled for 30+ years, pretty much from the time I quit bowling in my late teens for 10 years! Then, a coworker talked me into learning how to hook the ball and the rest is history.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment,

      Chas

      Reply
  4. I liked when you talked about carefully considering your adjustments when bowling. It makes sense that understanding this can help you get the results you want to have a great time. I can see how anyone looking into this would want to do their homework and find a bowling alley that is well maintained and where they can get tips on how to have a great game.

    Reply
    • Hi John,
      A well maintained bowling alley is a must. You can learn adjustments in league bowling as well, but it is harder under the pressure of teammates that want you to score well. Practice and visiting your local bowling alley for coaching and talking to the pro shop are key for sure. Thanks for stopping by John.
      Chas

      Reply
  5. Wow, there is a lot more to bowling than I would have thought. I knew there were tricks with spinning and such, but not to such a degree as this. Next time I go bowling, I should see if I can work on implementing some of these strats, because I learn better by actually trying to do things.

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah,
      Glad you liked reading my article and learning a few things! I have enjoyed talking to and bowling with older bowlers and having them describe the different ways they bowled, so I had to research it and I learned a bunch also. This game is really simple, but there are a lot of different ways to do it! Did you know that in Japan they have UFO spinner bowling where they oil the lanes from foul line to the pins, and throw a light plastic ball spinning at the pins and try to get the ball to deflect along the outside of the pins? YouTube has some videos.
      Video for ufo spinner bowling. Watch the second bowler, he does it well! Enjoy! Thanks for taking the time to comment! If I’m ever down your way, I’ll check out your lanes!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U22D6Jyag2Y

      Chas

      Reply
    • Hi Ann,
      Thanks for pointing that out. I had overlooked the control buttons on the download.I think you will like it better now. Thanks Again.
      Chas

      Reply
  6. Can you tell me what the surface is made of, if not the old wooden lanes ? In this small town, Spencer, KY that is the only option. Are you close to Spencer ? You must be one of us left handed bowlers?I am hoping to tech my children to bowl when they are old enough What age should they start learning to bowl?

    Reply
    • Hi Ann,
      Welcome back! The newer lanes are synthetic lanes, basically plastic sheet material applied over wood underneath, with the look of wooden lanes. I am not close to Spencer,and sorry,I am a right handed bowler. The consensus today is, start the kids as soon as possible!Get them equipment custom fitted for them as well.It seems kids who start later are trying to play catch up when they start playing in league play.

      Reply
    • Hi Ann,
      Well, yes! By floor, I think you mean the lane surface.If you bowl in alleys that have the old wooden lanes, sometimes the boards are so worn you can’t see the markings on the alleys, especially on the right side of the alley, where all the right handed bowlers are throwing their strike ball. That is why the lanes have an extra set of dots right at the foul line. You would have to use them as a reference point and use your eyes to extend out to where you want to target your ball.You can also use the arrows farther out on the lane as a reference as well, at least the ones visible the count the boards away from it. every five boards has an arrow, so if the ten board arrow was missing, you could count 5 boards from the first arrow and that would be the ten board. Good question, thanks for asking!
      Chas

      Reply

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