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10 Steps to Better Bowling

Updated on September 22, 2015

Almost 100 million people in more than 90 counries worldwide bowl each year. Bowling can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Most bowling centers have bumpers on some of their lanes to help kids have better scores until they can improve their bowling ability. I can remember when I was starting out many years ago. It was frustrating because the ball kept going in the gutter. Sometimes, it still does ... but that is a different story.

Bowling has many health and social benefits. It helps in burning calories by exercising the muscles in your legs and arms. It is also a good way to meet many good friends, especially if you bowl in a league.

Whether you are a beginner bowler or someone that is been bowling for years, you want to improve your scores. You may never become a pro bowler, but there is no reason why you cannot get better. Just remember it will not happen overnight.

I have been bowling for almost 50 years. Bowling has changed over the years with new lane surfaces and conditions, improved bowlng balls, computerized scoring machines, and improved support equipment. My bowling average is higher now at the age of 63, then it was when I was 20. So no matter what your age, you can always improve.

1. The first thing that you need is a bowling ball that is fitted to your hand. Most centers have a local pro shop where you can purchase a ball. Talk to the pro at your center and he can help you pick out a ball for your style of bowling. The weight of the ball is very important. Balls come in many weights, with a 16 lb. ball the maximum weight allowed. Balls were made out of rubber and plastic in the 1960s and 1970s. The rule of thumb was to roll the heaviest ball you could control to get maximum pinfall. However, today the balls are made out of urethane and the weight is not as important. Many pro bowler use 15 lb. balls and some have use 14 lb. balls, especially if they are having problems with their hand or arm. I was having trouble with my arm earlier in the season. I changed to a 14 lb. ball and have average almost 200 a game in the 2nd half of the season.

2. You need to purchase your own bowling shoes. The shoes rented by bowling centers are usually in poor shape. It is often hard to find shoes that are a perfect fit. These shoes can affect your approach on the lanes. This will usually result in lower scores.

3. You should wear comfortable clothes. Clothes that are too tight keep you from moving properly. This can also affect your bowling scores.

4. There are many different kinds of support equipment to help your bowling. There are gloves and wrist supports to help bowler with weak wrists. Having the proper wrist and arm support can affect how you throw the ball, usually resulting in higher scores. Check out your local pro shop or go online to find the support that you need to help your game.

5. Keeping your equipment clean is very important. How often you should clean your ball depends upon the condition of the lanes. There are many cleaners available at your pro shop. I clean my ball with rubbing alcohol. This keeps the oil from the lanes from building up on your ball and leads to higher scores. You should also keep the soles of your shoes cleaned and skuffed to make sure you have the right traction on the lanes. You need to be able to slide at the foul line. Sticking on the lanes can result in fouling (going over the foul line), injuries and a bad shot.

6. Your stance and approach is very important.. Most people use a 4 or 5 step approach, but some people take more steps and some take less. In the 70's, Mark Roth on the pro tour used about 6 or 7. Find the approach that is comfortable for you. I used a 4 step for years, then changed to 5 and it helped my timing. Your stance and approach should help you maintain good balance to help you throw the ball accurately. Keep your body parallel to the foul line. Watch the good bowlers. Take a look at their stance, balance and delivery. See how it is different from (or the same) as yours. Don't try to imitate another bowler. Experiment with different approaches, stances and deliveries until you find what works best for you.

7. Find the spot on the lane and focus on it. The lanes have arrows and dots to help you throw the ball in the desired direction. Take the time to find which marks you need to throw at to get the correct results. Once you begin to hit your marks, your scores should improve.

8. Most bowlers concentrate too much on strikes and not enough on spares. Everyone likes to throw strikes, but it isn't going to happen on every shot. If you make just one more spare a game, your average will improve by 10 pins.

9. Your grip is very important to your bowling. If one of the holes in your ball, especially the thumb hole, is too loose, fix it with bowler's tape. If your strike ball hooks too much for spares, use a plastic ball. This is very helpful with the 7 or 10 pin spares.

10. Practice on a regular basis. You can't just bowl once a week and expect to improve. To be a good bowler, you need to practice and work on the things you are doing wrong. Practice with a friend or a fellow teammate. Don't worry about the scores. One good way to practice with a friend is to have one of you bowl the first ball and let the other bowler shoot at the spares. Bowl a game or 2, then swap positions. This will give both a chance to work on your strike ball and picking up spares.

Finally, bowling should be fun. You want to shoot high scores, but it won't happen every week. You will have your good weeks and there will be some that are not so good. Keep a good attitude and be a good sport. You will see some bowlers that get mad when they make a bad shot. Cussing and making obscene gestures to the pins will not improve your scores. It only makes you look stupid! I used to be like that and it definitely did not make me a better bowler. One night after a bad night, I threw my ball into a trash can. It was not embarrassing to do this, but it sure was when I had to reach in and remove it. My wife finally told me she was not going to bowl with me anymore unless I changed and quit being a jerk on the lanes. I think that helped to improve by bowling more than anything else.

Try these 10 steps and I am sure you will become a better bowler. Good Luck and Remember to Have Fun!


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