When entering the world of bowling, you must have heard about “stay behind the ball” all the time. But do you truly know what it means and how to stay behind the ball? This article will unveil one of the biggest myths in bowling. After this video, I’m sure that “stay behind the ball” is no longer your challenge if you struggling with it.
So we’ll go through the main parts of this article:
- Firstly, you will understand what is “stay behind the ball?
- Secondly, why is “stay behind the ball” good for bowlers?
- Thirdly, what prevents you from staying behind the ball, and how to fix it?
What is “stay behind the ball?
“Stay behind the ball” can be explained as the hand being at the up-the-back position with the ball at the time of release. The more your hand is behind the ball at the time of release, the better it is.
So what is the time of release? That is when your sliding foot begins to stop and your hand begins to accelerate the ball with the follow-through. If you don’t intentionally accelerate the follow-through, the ball will pull you to the follow-through, and your bowling hand and arm will also eventually wrap around or move to the side of the ball.
So simply put, when your foot begins to stop and you begin to roll the ball out to the lane, your hand should be at the up-the-back position with the ball.
Why is “stay behind the ball” good for bowlers?
This is the best position for an optimal roll which might help your ball utilize most of its core potential and gain the most revolutions and speed. And of course, if you can make the ball hit the pocket within this condition, your chance of having a strike is the highest.
I must also emphasize that “stay behind the ball” is a way to imply the starting position of the hand before you begin to accelerate the follow-through. Finally, your hand will end up at the side of the ball at a certain degree of axis rotation. Otherwise, the ball will roll end over end and never hook, or hook the least.
So don’t misunderstand that your hand should always be at the back of the ball if you want to hook it. You only do that when you want to make the ball go as straight as possible.
I also recognize that the drift step approach also helps you stay more behind the ball. Because the drift step creates more space for your swing slot, hence giving your bowling hand more room to stay behind the ball.
It also prevents your body from twisting which makes you throw your shoulder forward, creating the chicken swing. What prevents you from staying behind the ball and how to fix it?
There are 4 reasons which prevent you from staying behind the ball as a 2 handed bowler:
1. Your body alignment with the aiming system.
2. Your shoulder angle with your target line.
3. Your timing.
4. Your understanding of the release.
Let’s examine the 1st reason: Your body alignment with the aiming system.
As you know, the bowling ball is a round and spherical shape object. You can’t stay behind the ball unless you know which trajectory the ball will travel.
So what you have to do before you want to stay behind the ball is to be sure you match body alignment to the intended trajectory of the ball at the foul line. Why do I have to say so? Because in many situations, your intended target line does not match the real target line when you release the ball. This seems unreal but true.
This gap is created during your approach. You think that with this standing position, you will approach, swing, stop, and release the ball through the intended target line. But in reality, where you stop at the foul line does not allow you to do that. Or in other words, your intended target line and the real target line do not match each other. If it matches, your chance of not staying behind the ball is really small. I will demonstrate this problem with an example of a bowler. Let’s look at this part of the video:
This bowler is my fellow. He’s still struggling with staying behind the ball after trying multiple tricks. The paradox is the more he physically tries to make his hand or even his arm stay behind the ball, the worse the situation is.
In this situation, my fellow stands at board 30 and wants to stop at board 30 at the foul line, rolling the ball past the area between the 4th and 5th arrow or the 23rd board at the arrow.
So after a couple of slow-motion recordings from behind, I found out that his alignment does not fit his intended target line. In other words, where he stops at the foul line does not allow him to project the ball through his intended target line or the area at the arrows.
In reality, he still thinks he’s in the right swing slot. You see, at the foul line, with his swing slot, It’s best to roll the ball past the 4th arrow or board 20 at the arrow. But his intention is to roll the ball passing the 23rd board.
What could he do in this situation? He has no way but to quickly wrap his hand around the ball in an attempt to make the ball pass the intended board at the arrows. You can only see this flaw with the help of a slow-motion camera. Otherwise, you wouldn’t know how to fix it.
The story hasn’t ended yet. My fellow somehow recognizes that weird feeling. He thinks he should pull his arm to the inside of the body when releasing to stay more behind the ball and hit his target arrows. So he tries to pull the ball to the inside part of the body during the backswing. The problem is what is pulled inside goes outside quickly. And the result is his hand and arm quickly go outside and wrap around the ball. This process badly ruins the release.
The solution is to rearrange the alignment with the target line. You have to move your stand left or right a couple of boards to match your sliding and stopping position at the foul line with your intended target line. I suggest recording yourself from behind, focusing on your footwork and where you aim at the lane. With a couple of shots, you can recognize the flaw and quickly fix it.
In the above example, I told my fellow to move his standing position to the left 4 to 5 boards to adjust his alignment while fitting his drift approach.
Once you match your body alignment with your intended target line, your head, right shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers will be on the same plane with the intended target line, at the end of the 4 steps with the 5-step approach. And remember that you don’t have to force your body to do that. Everything happens naturally.
The 2nd reason is not to create a proper shoulder angle with the intended target line.
Your shoulder line should be perpendicular to the intended target line when you release the ball. In some cases, bowlers think they should always have their shoulder line parallel to the foul line. This thought makes them quickly swing their shoulder forward from behind to achieve it and…there you go, you have “chicken swing” and of course can not stay behind the ball.
So look at this image again to imagine your target line and shoulder angle.
Your shoulder should remain perpendicular to the intended target line during the follow-through.
The 3rd reason why you can’t stay behind the ball is your timing.
Even if you don’t make any above mistakes but with early timing, you can hardly stay behind the ball long enough to have an optimal release.
Your hands will eventually and naturally move to the side of the ball. This is basically a natural hand placement according to the human body anatomy. However, it shouldn’t be at that position when you haven’t started to accelerate the follow-through.
With early timing, when your foot reaches the foul line, your arm swing or the ball also reaches the foul line, nearly at the same time. At this moment, you can not resist the hand moving to the side of the ball. And more importantly, when you begin to accelerate the follow-through, your bowling hand has already been at the side of the ball.
So, the solution is to make your timing later. Once you fixed the timing, you can definitely stay more behind the ball.
And the last reason is your understanding of the release.
Most of the time, we are taught to release the ball by moving fingers or hand from the back of the ball to its side to make it hook.
As I mentioned above, your bowling hand will eventually move to the side of the ball without any effort. That is the natural hand position.
So the key is to understand the release to accelerate the follow-through on the target line passing the center of the bowling ball.
…And you should never think that I should rotate my fingers or hand to the side of the ball when releasing it. When you think you have to do that, you’ve already over-rotated it, not giving your hand a chance to stay more behind the ball.
So now you can see that releasing the ball is easier and simpler than ever before right?
So let’s conclude what we’ve learned today. In order to stay more behind the ball you should recheck these 4 elements:
1. Recheck your aiming system to see if it matches your body alignment.
2. Recheck your shoulder line to see if it’s perpendicular to the intended target line.
3. Recheck your timing model to prevent early timing.
4. Release the ball by accelerating the follow-through on the target line passing the center of the bowling ball. Don’t think about rotating your finger or hands to the side of the ball.
By checking these 4 elements, you might be able to find out where your flaw is and quickly fix it. Once you feel that you can stay more behind the ball, you can grow quickly and develop many advanced skills.
Now, it’s time you hit the lanes and try my tips. If it helps improve your game, don’t forget to subscribe and give me some comments; also, like or share this article with your friends if they want to improve. See you soon in the next post. Until then, enjoy bowling!