Improving Your Bowling Targeting Now – Aim Better & Get More Strikes!

Improving your bowling targeting is a subject even advanced bowlers need to revisit from time to time. It is critical for good scores to have a system to help determine where your bowling ball is going to hit the pins.

The most common way for beginner bowlers to target their shot is to just look at the pins in the rack. The problem is the pins are too far away. 60′ away leaves a lot of room for error in ball placement. So, I want to touch on some basic tips to make your game simpler, and improve your scores. This might be a review for advanced players, and more helpful for beginners.

How to Improve Your Bowling Targeting

The easiest way I have found for bowling targeting is to use either the arrows or dot’s on the lane. Targeting works whether you hook bowl or throw a straight ball. Bowling targeting allows us to aim for a spot much closer to us.

When we do this, it allows us to actually see how accurate our shot really was. If we watch the ball go over the mark we are using we can actually see the board the ball is traveling on. This allows us to make adjustments to control where we want the ball to roll through the pins.

Most bowlers will use a process of elimination to get themselves into the correct area to get the best angle for getting a strike. This is for bowlers who have been looking at the pins, and want to try bowling targeting.

For right-handed bowlers a good place to begin is the center of the lane and try to target the second arrow in from the right side. Left-handed bowlers would target the second arrow in from the left side.

Roll your ball, then keep a fixed stare at the target arrow until you see the ball roll over the arrow. Take note to see the exact spot the ball rolled over the arrow.

Was it directly over the arrow, or a board to the left or right? After you see the ball actually roll past your mark, look up to see where the ball hits the pins. Was it in the pin pocket, or to the left or right?

Adjustments For Improving Your Bowling Targeting

If you kept your eyes fixed on that target spot, you know which board your ball rolled over. If you don’t remember, chances are you looked up at the pins too soon. Repeat another throw and try again. If you do it correctly, you are ready for an adjustment.

To make an adjustment, simply move your feet in the direction that the ball missed hitting the head pin. If the ball goes left, move your feet 2 boards left and try again. If the ball goes right, move you feet right.

You can adjust how many boards you move your feet on your next few throws. If 2 boards is too much move your starting position with your feet back a board toward the center starting position.

As you fine tune your targeting, you may want to try using the dots that are on the lane before the arrows. You can also use the dots located at the foul line to help with another point of reference.

The more experienced bowlers, who have bowled in several bowling leagues, already know where to stand and how to bowling target. They know that the lanes will transition during league play, and they will have to make an adjustment sooner or later.

Most times, moving the feet one way or the other is too much of a move. The will simply try to hit a board just outside or inside of the bowling targeting mark they are using. Maybe sometimes, they only need to get the ball a bit further out on the lane, using the same mark. It all depends upon the lane conditions.

League Adjustments For Improving Your Bowling Targeting

When the lanes break down in league bowling, you will need to adjust your bowling targeting to allow for the changing conditions. I have had those rare nights when I didn’t need to move my target.

But, normally I need to target a board inside my starting target later in the game. This allows for the oil being carried down the lanes and brings my ball back into the pocket. It is basically what I said earlier, if the ball is traveling to the right too far, move right. And if it is traveling to the left too far, move left.

Sometimes, moving our target a board is too much, then what do we do? One way to change the path of the ball is to change when our eyes are looking on the lane. If you want gain some skid length and delay your hook a bit, look 6″ past your target on the lane.

If you need to increase the hook and reduce the skid, look about 6″ in front of your mark. This is a good way to beat oily conditions. These are also good things to try before moving your feet, or a lateral one board move.

You can learn more here on adjusting for changing lane conditions.

Why Do I Miss My Bowling Target

Why do people miss when Bowling Targeting? The most common mistake that people make is they don’t stay focused on the target, and they look up too soon. Most of the time they are looking at the pins to see where the ball is going to hit.

I found that if I can’t remember what board the ball was traveling over, I probably looked up too soon.

As you get more experienced with bowling targeting, you can start to use more points of reference. Most alleys have the darker colored rangefinder boards on the lanes that make a great targeting reference.

The rangefinder boards are 3′ long and appear in pairs at 34′ to 37′ and at 40′ to 43′ down the lane. These are fairly new and appear at most newer lanes. If you look at the video below, these are older lanes and do not have the rangefinder boards.

Listen as they discuss some great reasons why we miss our bowling target.

Improving Bowling Targeting

Avoiding as many distractions as possible is key to hitting your target.  Don’t think about anything else, focus on your target. You must keep your eyes on the target until you see the ball roll over your target.

This will give you a point of reference as the lanes change. Before you make an adjustment, you need to be sure you hit the target you were looking at. Don’t make a move too soon. If you made a bad shot and missed, that’s why your result was bad.

Poor Mechanics Cause Bad Bowling Targeting

What do we do if we aren’t hitting our target? Sometimes it seems like no matter what we do, we can’t hit the board we want to hit. Why is that happening. One possible cause is fast feet. The first thing I do when I am noticing a problem with hitting my mark, is slow my feet down.

To do this, I imagine weights on my feet keeping me from moving my feet too fast. Sometimes that is the only adjustment I need to make. Try slowing things down a bit next time you are having trouble hitting your mark

One term I heard a lot from other bowlers is “Accuracy is in your feet”. It makes sense when you think about it. You need your slide foot to end up in the same place, on the same board, every time.

I walk a straight line to my mark, and occasionally after I deliver my ball, I will look down at my slide foot before I move. I want to be sure it is lined up with the same board I started from. No matter how you get lined up, your slide foot needs to be on the board you are using for your bowling targeting. I start my targeting when I am at the foul line delivering the ball.

Drifting Feet Can Be A Problem

If my feet are drifting right or left a board, I am changing the path the ball is going to take toward the pins. This is another easy thing to check when you are feeling like you can’t get a feel of the lanes.

And it is a common problem some people never realize they are doing.  Other bowlers drift on purpose. But, in the end your slide foot must be on the same board each and every time. Only when you make a foot adjustment will that change.

Arm Swing Can Hurt Your Accuracy

Another common problem is failing to keep the arm and elbow tucked in close to the body on the downswing. This not only changes the line of bowling targeting, but changes the rotation on the ball as well.

This error is harder to catch because it happens fairly quickly, and can happen right at the point of release. Bowlers trying to get more lift on the ball, will turn the arm and the elbow. This is referred to as the “chicken wing”. 

Lift is put on the ball by the fingers and wrist turning slightly at the moment of release. But, the chicken wing forces the hand to come around and over top of the ball. It takes all the leverage off the throw because the hand doesn’t stay behind the ball.

Bowlers can do many things to help their bowling targeting and improve their score. Here are some more advanced techniques to help you improve your game, and your targeting skills.


Frequently Asked Questions
How can I improve my bowling targeting effectively?
Use lane arrows or dots for precise targeting. Whether hooking or throwing straight, focus closer to you for visibility. Adjust based on the ball’s path over the chosen mark.
What adjustments should I make if I miss my bowling target?
Move feet in the direction of the miss—left or right. Experiment with board adjustments or use lane dots for reference.
How do league conditions affect bowling targeting?
Adjust targeting as league play progresses. Move a board inside your starting target if conditions change. Modify focus on the lane for path alterations.
Why do people often miss their bowling target?
a common mistake is looking up too soon. Maintain focus until the ball crosses the target. Experienced bowlers use rangefinder boards for enhanced targeting.
How can poor mechanics affect bowling targeting?
Fast feet or drifting slide foot disrupt targeting. Slow down feet for consistency. Keep arm close to the body, avoiding the “chicken wing” for improved targeting.

I hope you have found some useful tips in this article. If you have a story to tell about your bowling targeting, or any questions, please leave them in the comments below. I answer all my readers. Thank you for reading and please stop back.


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10 thoughts on “Improving Your Bowling Targeting Now – Aim Better & Get More Strikes!”

  1. I read and liked your article. It will be very helpful for those who want to know about this. I am a blogger but in a real sense I am learning the game. A few days ago I had a problem with my right hand so I couldn’t give the ball too far. In that case, where can I learn a new game with the left hand? Can I get any help from you in this matter?

    • Hi Chris,
      I have never tried to change from throwing right handed to left handed (in a serious league situation). I have changed the lead foot to finish with the opposite foot when just fooling around with the left hand. That’s about all I can tell you, start with the other foot to throw left-handed.
      I see guys trying to keep the slide foot the same,(when the change hands) and they have some limited success, but I had to change the slide foot when I tried it. Other than that messing around a bit, I have never researched changing hands to bowl.

      However, you say you are just learning, well that’s probably the best way.

      And to do it right, you should get your ball drilled for a lefty. And your slide foot will depend on how many steps you take on the approach, 3, 4, or 5 steps?
      Lefty bowlers do have an advantage when the bowl, because less bowlers bowl on the left side of the lane, so the shot lasts much longer, and doesn’t change.

      Or you could just learn to bowl two-handed! Everybody seems to be going that way now. If I had it all to do over again, I would learn to bowl two-handed!
      Hope that helps? Good Luck and Happy Bowling!

  2. I like how you explained that using the arrows on the lane is the easiest way to target when bowling. My brother and I are thinking of joining a local bowling club so that we can spend some more time together. I want to be able to get a better score than my brother each time we go, so I am going to have to work on my targeting.

    • Hi Thomas,
      If you are joining a tenpin bowling center, it will help you a lot, but I am not sure about helping you with your lawn bowling 😉
      If you use the combination of the dots, with the arrows and watching the ball roll over them to the point the hit the pins, you will improve very quickly. Throwing that same line on bowling alleys is key to good scores. Good luck and happy bowling!

  3. I like the tip about moving your feet to adjust your target. My daughter wants to start bowling competitively. I would love to take her to a bowling club to help her learn the correct way to bowl.

    • Hi Eve,
      Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. If you want to get lessons for your daughter, talk to the people in the pro shop at your local bowling alley. They will be able to recommend someone. She should start with her own equipment, a ball drilled to fit her and her own bowling shoes. After a few lessons, she should join a league to experience bowling in competition. That will improve her bowling skills. And of course practice, practice, practice. Then, try to get her introduced to some local tournaments if she wants to compete at a higher level. Who knows, maybe she will go on to become a pro bowler.
      Good luck and have fun!

  4. This is a great post for me.

    I have loved bowling on the few occasions that I have done it, but I am pretty useless at it.  But that’s because I really didn’t know what I should be doing.  I just rolled the bowl as hard as I could and hoped for the best!!

    But thanks to you, I now know what I should be doing and hopefully won’t embarrass myself as much.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Geoff,

      Glad to hear you learned something from my article. If you apply the techniques in Improving Your Bowling Targeting, you will find the game is much more enjoyable, and controllable. Plus, you have another great article to learn more. You can read more about scoring in my article Adjusting For Changing Lane Conditions.

      Once you have looked at those articles, you will know a lot more than the average bowler. Good Luck!

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and I look forward to having you as a future reader.


  5. This is VERY insightful. I have great memories bowling myself. I would always start out rough and then ease my way into winning! Who knew there was a science to it all. The techniques you’ve listed are very impressive. I have made notes and will be using them once we are no longer social distancing. Thank you for your thorough explanation! I will be back for more information from you!

    • Hi Ayoola,

      Thank you for the kind words. Now, you have a real game plan on how to improve you scores. These are methods that are timeless that I have learned over the years through my own research and trial and error. Some bowling lanes have remained open after the first shutdown was over. Like you, I decided to skip this season and stay safe until the vaccine is available. 

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, and I look forward to having you as a reader.


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