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Bowling Ball Push-Away Drill. Improving elements of your approach.

Updated on March 12, 2020
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Practice makes perfect and there is no way around it.  To perform consistently well at anything requires consistent and diligent practice.

It all begins with the "push-away"

The “push-away” is universal in the sport of bowling. Regardless if you are an infrequent bowler who only visits your local alley for a birthday party or a company event, or if you bowl professionally; the “push-away” is a part of your game. The push-away is the only way to get the ball started and successfully make it to the end of the lane. Because the push-away is the beginning of a ball delivery it alone dictates the vast majority of the rest of your approach. This article will provide a simple drill you can use to correct, improve and maintain an excellent and effective push-away.

Let's get started:

The push-away is important because it influences timing, footwork, ball swing and balance at the line. This drill can be performed in the comfort of your home, much like the swing drill. This drill is most effective with the help of another bowler who could provide verbal cues and feedback but this drill can be accomplished alone with the help of a mirror. However, if done alone you will have to divide your focus a bit.

Four-step approach (right-hander)
Four-step approach (right-hander)

Focus on your feet

The value and influence of the feet is hugely overlooked in the lower ranks of bowling. Many low to mid-ranged average bowlers fail to recognize and address the importance of their feet and therefore never make attempts to make their feet better as a means to make their games better. For this reason I will stress the importance of the feet. This drill is most effective in lengthening and modifying the direction of your crossover step. If you have floors with directional tile designs or hardwood floors this drill is even more effective as these floor types provide excellent feedback on your progress.

Five-step approach (right-hander)
Five-step approach (right-hander)

Place tape on the floor, or the lane, to indicate where your steps should be. Just remember the step after your push-away is called the “cross-over” step and should be directly in front of your “push-away” step. At home I like to use weights as “stops” or “barriers” to my no-step zones. If you are drilling with a partner they can use their feet to stop you from stepping too far or let you know you have not stepped far enough. Ultimately you want your foot to lightly touch the tape, weight, or foot of your partner; do not step completely on, or miss entirely. Once you are consistently performing this part of the drill successfully you can move your focus to the actual push-away. While performing this drill at home I recommend using a weight instead of our bowling ball so that you are able to stop after your crossover step without falling victim to momentum.

Perfecting your timing

The start of your ball swing will greatly affect the timing of your step cadence as you approach the foul line. Too early and your feet will be forced to rush to catch up with the ball which often leads to holding onto the ball too long and missing your mark inside. If you start the ball too late your feet, and your hand, will be forced to wait, delaying your release and most likely missing your mark to the outside. If you are using this drill to correct or improve your timing you will need to exaggerate your motions much like other drills designed to elevate proper muscle memory. Exaggeration is necessary to change any type of body movement because our brains are conditioned to revert to the most used muscle memory on file. It is what we usually refer to as being “more comfortable.” The thing about comfort is that it is the result of repetition. Every time we do something the same way it produces a set of physical feelings. The more we repeat those feelings the more receptive our brain becomes to deviations from those feelings, thus creating “comfort”. Any method to accomplish a goal can be made to “feel comfortable.” When we exaggerate a contracting motion we are asking our brains to meet somewhere in the middle between what you used to do and the exaggerated motions of your drills. Somewhere in the middle is optimal execution.

If you find yourself waiting for your ball to come down from the backswing or if you have a fast-paced cadence you will use this drill to practice dropping your ball directly into the swing, this is especially useful if you have a high backswing. If your goal is to delay your swing then you would need to practice getting the ball out away from you, then dropping it into the swing a little later. On a four-step approach the ball is typically started immediately with the first step. You can use this drill to practice starting the ball perhaps halfway through the first step to delay your timing.

Bowling form during the push-away (USBC Bowling Academy)

Ball Direction

Use this drill to correct poor ball direction through the swing by ensuring your push-away is performed over the ball-side leg (right leg for right-handers, left-leg for left-handers). Whichever hand you use, be sure to exaggerate your push (or drop) into your swing directly over the corresponding knee. Repetition is key. My rule is for every errant shot I’ve ever thrown I must perform two drill repetitions to correct it.

Practice is essential for everything but remember the body and the brain have limits. Drills, in any sport, are best done in small spurts over a continuous amount of time rather than binge drilling. I recommend drilling for 10 to 20 minutes daily or several times a week. If performing this drill at home be sure to do it in front of a mirror. This drill will help some parts of your ball direction but not all. If you find you are still struggling with ball direction, I recommend using the swing drill to make corrections. Obviously the best approach would be to combine the push-away drill with the swing drill and other motion specific tactics to develop the most efficient and effective bowling approach. Future articles will dissect other aspects of bowling such as a more detailed look at footwork and of course, the ball release.

Bowling Push Away-The Importance of Starting Right!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Lani Morris

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