Mastering Pro Bowling Techniques is for those times when you may have dreamed about actually being a pro bowler? I know I have. So, I decided to dip into the pro bowlers and pick a few to highlight for the techniques they used. Maybe we can learn something from their styles?
The pros are fun to watch on TV and sometimes they actually struggle just like we do! But, more often than not, they are on top of their game. So, how do they do that? What is it that is so special they can break all these records and score so high?
I think about Jason Belmonte, and the two handers, a great woman bowler like Liz Johnson with her dead on precision. Or even Marshall Kent’s smooth style. They each contributed to changing the game as we know it.
So, let’s take a look an see what we can learn to help improve our bowling.
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The Building Blocks of a Bowling Approach
When the pros bowl, they have a few constants that they use to keep everything under control. The fundamental concepts of a bowlers approach are:
- The release
They know when everything is lined up and working in sync, it creates good timing and gives them the best opportunity for accuracy, a smooth release and more strikes.
Related: Bowling Hand Release Techniques
When they get onto the approach, the pros know the importance of being relaxed, keeping the feet about shoulder width apart and most important, bending their knees slightly. The bent knees make it much easier to maintain their balance.
The most common method, especially with beginners, is to use a 4-step approach. For right-handers: Imagine a string tied through your hand to your right foot. When you push the ball away from your body, your right foot moves forward.
Keep the first step small and increase you steps gradually, so you are not forced to take short steps at the end. And with today’s stronger balls, you need to drift to the left away from your mark slightly to let you open up at the foul line and generate more power.
If you take 5 steps,(right handed) you want to take the first small step with you left foot before you push the ball away. Then move the ball and your right foot together, continuing the 4 step method.
Most of the pros use the 5 step approach for more speed, power and better timing control.
Your timing is created when you push the ball away. Follow the example of the pros, they push the ball forward at the same time the right foot moves forward. Then, when they plant the left foot at the foul line the ball is just behind it, ready to be released at the foul line.
The release is also a very important step in the approach. But, you must have all the other steps in place as well in order to have a good release. And when you do that, you need to deliver and release the ball at the proper time for a great shot.
Here is a great slow motion video of some of the great pro players showing how they release the ball.
Remember, we are not pro bowlers and most of us won’t ever be a pro bowler. But, I believe that learning from the pros we can improve our own bowling skills.
Mastering Pro Bowling Techniques – Case Studies
I am going to look at some different pro bowlers and analyse their styles and examine what they brought to the game of bowling. Along with their own fame, they have all helped to move the game of bowling forward in their own unique way.
Jason Belmonte was born in Australia. He is most well known as being one of the first bowlers to bring the two-handed approach shot to the game of ten pin bowling. He is already the first bowler to win 30 PBA titles who is not a member of the Bowling Hall of Fame.
Jason will be eligible for the BHOF in 2028. He will most likely have smashed all of the PBA records by then.
Jason is a two-handed bowler with one of the smoothest two-handed styles on tour. His deliberate step left to start, followed by his low spine tilt, combine to make him deadly accurate with his shot delivery
As you watch Jason on the down swing, he has a two handed arm swing until the very last moment where he uncups his wrist and releases the ball with one hand. He keeps his elbow, forearm and wrist all in the same plane keeping the ball on the same line shot after shot.
This style has made Jason a bowler with exceptional control, combined with a 20mph average ball speed with 600 rpms of ball revs. The result is 50% more revs than one handed bowlers, devastating pin action and a lot of PBA titles.
Jason has inspired many young bowlers to become two-handed bowlers.
Liz Johnson was born in Cheektowaga, New York and was a member of both the Professional Womens Bowlers Association (PWBA) and the PBA. She has earned 25 PWBA titles and 4 PBA titles. On April 29, 2015 Liz was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame.
Liz was the first woman to “qualify for a PBA event” in 2004-05 season. Later that year she became the first woman to make the televised finals of a PBA event. And the first woman to defeat a man in a televised PBA broadcast event by defeating Wes Malott 235-228 in 2005.
But, Liz lost in the finals to Tommy Jones.
Liz Johnson is known for her mechanically sound and consistent style of bowling. She has a low backswing and uses a lot of rotation to generate power. This allows her to hit the ball with a lot of accuracy, even on tough conditions.
Liz was a traditional one handed style bowler and used the four step approach in her game. Johnson has a low backswing, which helps her to maintain control of the ball
Liz used a smooth and consistent release, giving the ball just the right spin to hit those pins squarely in the pocket.
What sets Liz apart is her pinpoint accuracy. She’s a spare-shooting pro. Whether it’s a single pin or a tricky split, Liz’s technique helps her consistently pick up those tough spares.
Johnson’s style is not flashy, but it is very effective. She is a very consistent bowler and she has won numerous titles on the PWBA Tour, including 25 major titles, which is the most in PWBA history. She is also a two-time PBA Tour champion.
Marshal Kent is an American ten-pin bowler from Yakima, Washington who is known for his unique bowling style. It is a hybrid of the traditional power game and the modern high-revving style.
He has a very high backswing, but he also uses a lot of wrist snap to generate revs. This allows him to get plenty of revs on the ball to create power and help his accuracy.
Kent’s style is not without its drawbacks. He can be inconsistent at times, and he can struggle on dry lanes. However, when he is on, he is one of the most dominant bowlers in the world. He has won 12 PBA Tour titles, including the 2022 U.S. Open, and he is a member of Team USA.
Marshall’s approach is all about balance and finesse. He goes with a straightforward four-step approach, keeping things clean and controlled.
When he releases the ball, it’s like a controlled explosion of power and spin.
Kent has a very high backswing, which allows him to generate a lot of revs and power with his wrist snap. This also helps him to control the ball’s movement on the lane.
He is very accurate with his shots and is able to hit the same line even under difficult conditions.
Marshall Kent is a unique and talented bowler who has had a lot of success on the PBA Tour. His style is a combination of power and accuracy, which makes him a very dangerous bowler on any condition.
This combo lets him adapt to different lane conditions like a champ, making him a versatile force on the lanes.
Kelly Kulick is known for her smooth and controlled style of bowling. She has a relatively low backswing and uses a lot of rotation to generate power. The low backswing helps with her accuracy and control on challenging conditions.
Kulick’s style is similar to Liz Johnson, not flashy, but it is very effective. She is a very consistent bowler and she has won numerous titles on the PWBA Tour.
Defeating Chris Barnes 265-195 in the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions, made her the first woman to win a PBA Tour title.
Kelly rocks the classic one-handed approach with precision and uses a 5 step approach.
Kelly is very accurate with her shots. And she is able to hit the pocket consistently in a variety of lane conditions.
Her release is all about hitting the mark with just the right amount of spin.
What really stands out is her accuracy – she’s a master at targeting specific pins, making her spare game strong and consistent. Kelly’s style proves that precision pays off in a big way.
Kelly Kulick is a talented and accomplished bowler who has had a lot of success on the PWBA Tour. Her style is a combination of control and accuracy, which makes her a formattable opponent on any condition.
TJ Tackett is a unique bowler in the PBA Tour. He is a right-handed, one-handed bowler who uses a cranker-style delivery, but he can generate RPM rates comparable to most two-handed bowlers.
This makes him a “unicorn” in the sport, and it has allowed him to be successful on a variety of oil patterns. Tackett is also known for his versatility, as he can adapt his game to different lane conditions. This makes him a threat to win on any given weekend.
In addition to his physical ability, Tackett is also a very intelligent bowler. He is constantly studying the lanes and making adjustments to his game. This has allowed him to be one of the most consistent bowlers on tour.
Tackett is also a very competitive bowler, and he always gives his best effort. This has helped him to win multiple championships, including the 2023 U.S. Open.
EJ’s approach is athletic and dynamic, with a five-step rhythm that keeps him in the zone.
His release is lightning fast, sending the ball down the lane with a wicked spin that is comparable to the rotation the two-handers achieve.
What makes him shine is his adaptability – he can switch up his angles and adjust to changing lane conditions. EJ’s technique is all about staying flexible and making smart adjustments on the fly.
TJ Tackett is a rising star on the PBA Tour, and he is sure to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come. He is a unique bowler with a lot of talent, and he is sure to continue to be successful.
Stepping Up Your Game
These pro bowlers are just a small sample of the great techniques you see at the pro level of bowling. I think that everyone can learn something from each bowler just by trying to improve just one part of your game. Over time you will develop better skills and your scores will improve.
Just remember, we are not pro bowlers, and most of us won’t be. But if you can improve your game by 10 or 20 pins, you will impress your friends!
Plus, you will enjoy getting a few more strikes or picking up a few tough splits and watching your own average go up!
Thank you for reading my post, I hope you enjoyed it and learned something. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I will answer ASAP!
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