Most two-handed bowlers struggle with ball speed and accuracy.
The main reason behind it is the non-optimal biomechanics of the arm swing. This article will help you optimize the ball speed and accuracy under the view of biomechanics.
OK! Let’s talk about the ball speed.
In another article, we’ve already talked about adjusting ball speed by moving your feet faster and taking advantage of the potential energy from the swing.
However, to optimize the ball speed, we need even more than that.
Compared to 1-handed bowlers, 2-handed bowlers don’t have much advantage with the high and free arm swing. You can also run all the way to the foul line to increase the ball speed but you will soon encounter the foot speed tolerance. So we need to find more energy from another source.
I believe that there must be a hidden source of kinetic energy which can contribute to the ball speed. I returned to the kinetic energy formula:
M stands for mass or the object’s weight. V stands for velocity.
The more kinetic energy the ball accumulates before it leaves your hands, the more speed it has when projected on the lane. So we need to find a way to maximize the ball’s kinetic energy by tweaking this formula.
Because m is constant, we can only find ways to maximize the ball’s velocity during the swing.
The ball’s velocity during the swing consists of the foot speed and another thing that we rarely talk about. the biomechanics movements of the body.
In other throwing sports, the athletes tend to have long strides with long arm swings like baseball. The reasons behind the long arm swing and long stride are to create the most momentum or kinetic energy for the shot.
V equals S Divided by T
For v to be maximal, s must be larger, and t must be small.
In this case, s is the length of the arm swing created with the long stride of the last step. t is smaller with the help of the biomechanics movement of the upper body.
Baseball pitchers increase their range of motion with the forward stride to increase body acceleration and eventually accelerate the ball.
In bowling, we apply the same biomechanics concept. But what exactly means biomechanics here?
Hardly anyone knows that human joints have an elastic effect, just like a spring. The tendons and ligaments of the joints contribute to creating this spring.
When muscle fibers stretch, it creates a force that pulls the bone far from its original placement. At that time, tendons and ligaments play the role of spring to pull it back, creating the kinetic energy that we often see in the movement of a baseball player.
You see…stride. stretch. and accelerate.
Kinetic energy lies in the human spring at the joints, which creates the velocity of the ball when leaving their hands. This is just like we do in bowling with either 1 or 2 handed style. The bowling ball will receive kinetic energy from the shoulder. elbow and wrist joints.
The joint stiffness is due to the stiffness of the attached muscles. Muscle stiffness will hinder the joints’ elasticity. We often hear this traditional tip. “Relax your arm and shoulders…”. Yes, it’s all about preventing muscle stiffness which hinders the kinetic energy from the joints.
Now you understand the hidden kinetic energy source which makes the ball speed. The key word is “muscle relaxation”.
When the arm and shoulders are relaxed, your arm swing will naturally extend during the downswing, helping you with an assertive acceleration moment when releasing the bowling ball.
It would be best if you believed everyone could have a long arm swing. But please note that “long” depends on the individual’s physique. However, there are some factors that prevent you from having it.
First, you hold the ball too close to your body and too tightly.
Second, your shoulder rotation during the downswing is not optimal.
And third, you don’t pay attention to the last sliding step.
There are several reasons which make you hold the ball too close to your body and too tightly.
Most of the time, It’s because you try to bend your elbow in the downswing to encounter the ball weight and make your hand behind and below the ball.
In fact, with the help of the non-bowling hand and the cupped wrist, you already have more than enough power to counter with the ball weight and make your hands below the ball.
Do you see? You can fully relax the elbow during the swing, which contributes to creating a long arm swing during the downswing.
It’s ok to bend your elbow during the upswing. But It should be gradually and naturally unbent during the downswing to create a long arm swing before the release.
So we found a way to resolve the 1st issue, right?… Actually. Not yet.
The puzzle is when you intentionally try to unbend your elbow during the downswing; you might have a feeling of uncupping the wrist so soon, and not being able to make the palm below the ball at the release.
The more you try to do that, the more chance you will drop the ball during the downswing. Ok, so just leave it there and remember to relax your elbow during the downswing first.
We will move to the second issue. Trust me, when you have resolved the 2nd issue, the first one will disappear.
The second issue is your shoulder rotation during the downswing is not optimal. Here comes the concept named. Drop Your Damn Shoulder from Mr. Joe Slowinski.
Your downswing is considered optimal if your bowling shoulder can rotate in a downward movement under the non-bowling shoulder.
To be in this position, your non-bowling shoulder should be in line with the bowling shoulder at the top of the swing.
When achieving this position, your arm swing is fully extended backward and contributes to the long arm swing we are trying to create.
You can also recognize this position in other sports like baseball; basketball or tennis. So it’s a norm in other sports.
Once you know this position, you will need to relax your shoulder muscles to make it easily rotate backward in the backswing and downward during the downswing.
Bowlers with more shoulder flexibility and longer arms have more advantages in creating long arm swings. But it doesn’t mean you can’t if you are not like them. Everyone can.
I insist on practicing this concept at the foul line before matching it to your approach. You should also do it slowly and with a lighter ball for the first time to prevent any possible tension in the rotator cuff and torso muscle.
You should also improvise the rotator cuff and torso muscle group to help balance the upper body during the downswing.
So once you’ve resolved the 1st issue with a relaxed elbow and the 2nd issue with the “Drop Your Damn Shoulder” concept, you can easily focus on extending the last step.
Everything about “relaxation” needs time to adapt. Once your brain remembers all the movements and feeling unconsciously, it will become “relaxed”. So don’t rush. The more you think and be aware of the concept, the faster your brain will master it.
How about the last issue?
A last sliding step will help you create a good leverage position to assertively accelerate the ball at the release. It also creates a flat spot for posting the ball to the lane.
And lastly, It gives you more time to settle down and focus on the target line even at the last fraction of a second before the release. Your accuracy will considerably improve for sure.
So let’s wrap up. To optimize the arm swing of 2-handed bowlers for more ball speed and accuracy, you need to improvise 3 things:
First. Relax your elbow.
Second. Drop and Relax Your Damn Shoulder.
And third. Remember to slide at the last step.
Please also note that you should never deliberately try to unbend your elbow to create a longer arm swing during the downswing. The more you try to do that, the more chance you will drop the ball during the downswing.
Once you’ve mastered the above 3 fundamentals, your arm swing will naturally and automatically be extended.
World-class 2-handed bowlers excel because they’ve mastered these skills or are gifted and naturally adapted.
So how about you? If you are not gifted, you can learn to excel.
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 article with your friends if they want to improve.
See you in the next article on the importance of an aiming system in bowling. Until then, enjoy bowling!