The strike or a good shot results from several sequences of the approach. We often focus only on the release while forgetting the whole process, which can make or break a good shot and dictate your bowling style.
Do you truly understand the meaning of your approach? Have you ever asked yourself what you look from behind during the approach? What can I do to make my approach more comfortable and more satisfying?
The answers lie in the understanding of this process.
The name, four- or 5-step approach only describes the sequences but not the cause and effect of the bowling shots. It prevents you from understanding the biomechanics of the body movement during the approach.
This video will uniquely explain the bowling approach, which can enlighten your skills.
I will explain the bowling approach with another sports reference system, which is baseball.
There are some similarities between these two sports. In baseball, there are up to 6 sequences within a shot as follows:
- The wind-up.
- The early cocking.
- The late cocking.
If you turn this image upside down, you can see a similar approach of a bowler.
Ok. The whole process can be simplified into 4 phases:
- The wind-up.
- The cocking.
The biomechanics of a baseball pitcher is similar to a bowler. We all want the ball to travel fast with tons of revolutions.
Let’s match these four sequences to the bowling approach.
The wind-up is where you start to deploy the kinetic energy from the body. We do it within steps 1, 2, and 3 with the 5-step approach or steps 2 and 3 with the 4-step approach.
Let’s zoom in the wind-up phase.
Like baseball pitchers, bowlers also start to hold and place the bowling ball in their hands to be ready to enter the cocking phase, which is during steps 1, 2 and 3 with the 5-step approach or steps 2 and 3 with the 4-step approach.
After completing this phase, you must be sure that the ball is fully controlled within your palm in a relaxed manner and with the least muscle stiffness.
The must-have condition to unleash your body’s kinetic energy is to be confident that the ball is 100% under your control with the least muscle pressure from the arm.
You can check out a video of improvising the arm swing to understand the biomechanics energy of the arm in bowling at the upper right corner of the screen.
Another reason why this stage is significant is after this phase, you can hardly control the ball, just like when the bullet has been ignited within the gun barrel.
You should spend time shaping these very first steps of the process. Everyone has their unique style. There’s no single pattern for all.
Now we move to the cocking phase which is steps 4 and 5 with the 5-step approach or steps 3 and 4 with the 4-step approach.
Let’s take the 5-step approach to analyze the scenario.
At step 4, the bowling ball is at the highest position during the arm swing.
Wooow, you made it to the top! Congratulations!
So what now? Like the baseball pitchers at the cocking phase, you have accumulated lots of kinetic energy for the ball and been ready to discharge it to the lane.
Imagine the big rock on the catapult ready to be fired. You are the catapult and the bowling ball is the rock. Are you ready?
The last sliding step before the stop is like the long stride in baseball before the throw.
If your arm is fully relaxed, you will realize that the shoulder and elbow joints naturally begin to uncock, making your arm swing longer. This is exactly like the late cocking phase in baseball.
Another crucial point that you should learn by heart is that your sliding foot must stop firmly to have a good leverage point before entering the acceleration phase.
Imagine you use the ground as the base to accelerate the arm swing at the release point. Without a good stop, you will release your ball while skiing on the ice and lose your balance. Do you think you can have a good shot in this condition? No, right?
So remember this order: Slide, Stop and Accelerate. Don’t mix them up or you will mess up your release.
Ok, everything is ready, let’s fire in the whole. There’s no time to think at this fraction of the second.
Now your head, sliding foot and shoulder have reached the foul line, and the whole body from behind will go after them.
Like the stretch and pull effect. This is exactly the meaning of the acceleration phase. The other half of the body will assertively move forward to regroup with the first half which has already reached the foul line.
During this phase, your bowling arm will rotate under the non-bowling one and be almost fully extended after this phase.
But I’ll tell you this, if you extend your arm at this stage, you will ruin your shot at the last second.
Instead, put this thought out of your head because the arm is naturally extended due to the weight of the bowling ball, not you.
If you try to extend it, your palm will lose its sweet spot, which is under the ball, due to the wrist being uncupped before the release.
The feeling of acceleration should be like “your body, arm and hand going through the center of the bowling ball from behind and passing the foul line”.
Though your hand and fingers will eventually move from the inside to the outside of the bowling ball, you should never think of it as the cause of the release.
This is the biggest misconception of newbie bowlers when watching the slow-motion release videos of the pros.
If you think of “going around or rotating around the ball” when releasing, you’ve already ruined your shot by pushing the ball to the left side.
Replay this part of the video and think about it for a little while….
Now you see it…
You made it to the last phase and literally finished the shot.
The follow-through is somehow the leftover of the momentum.
There’s no specific requirement for this phase. You might stand firm or fall to the right side as long as you strike or are satisfied with your shots’ result.
However, a balanced body at the follow-through phase is better and verifies that you could have had a well-executed shot.
The reality shows that a fall-off balance follow-through causes an errant shot most of the time.
Now you’ve had an overview of the approach broken down by phases. You have created an image of how the approach should be. I’m sure that your approach has already improved once you’ve finished watching this video.
You will practice making this image clearer, and your brain will remember it in an unconscious manner.
Now, it’s time you hit the lanes and test my tips. If it helps improve your game, don’t forget to subscribe and give me some comments; also, like or share this video with your friends if they want to improve.
See you in the next article on how to adapt yourself to the lane conditions. Until then, enjoy bowling!