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Bowling Ball Swing Drill. Correct Your Bowling Back Swing.

Updated on November 9, 2019
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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.

The Swing Drill

Bowling is like any other sport, in that "practice makes perfect." It is not logical to believe that you can improve your game by focusing once or twice a week during league. To make individual parts of your game better to elevate your overall game, you must take separate time to focus on each skill. Three essential components of the physical game of bowling are (1) the push-away, (2) the ball/arm swing, and (3) the slide to the foul line. In this article, I will outline a drill designed to improve the ball/arm swing. This drill is suitable and useful for every level of bowling and should be revisited frequently.

Let's get started:

Ever have one of those nights at league where you just can not hit your mark? No matter how hard you concentrate and focus on those marks on the floor (cause you're not looking at the pins...right?), you can't stop missing to the right? And when I say, "missing to the right" (if you are the left, if you are left-handed), I specifically mean, the right. Missing to the left for a right-handed bowler is not generally the result of a bad swing, that is a different problem that could be solved with a cadence drill and/or ball release drill. Missing to the right is your swing and could be a result of a figure 8 ball swing. When all hell breaks loose on my ball swing, it is because of this figure eight. The figure 8 refers to the path the ball takes from your push-off, through your back swing, and all the way to the release, following a path much like an 8. Do not misunderstand the figure 8 as a taboo back swing, it has its place in bowling and can be very useful and effective when controlled and done correctly. However, a figure 8 ball swing can be devastating to your game when used unintentionally, incorrectly, and under the wrong lane conditions. The video below is of another swing drill, also designed to correct improper figure 8 back swings and shows what is correct vs. incorrect.

Figure 8 Drill for Bowling

The swing drill in the Kegel video is great if you can get to the bowling alley for practice three times a week. But what if you can't? That is where the stationary swing drill comes in. This drill does not require you to be at the bowling alley and can be done in the comfort of your home, office, or while your future soccer star is practicing for his/her next game.

How it Works

1. You do not move your feet. One thing I stress the most in all forms of practice is, "focus on one thing at a time." You do not want to be worrying about walking, or what your feet are doing because you are fixing your swing with this drill.

2. Get as close as you can to your starting position. That would be the first position you take to start your swing. Something like this:

3. Perform your bowling swing without moving your feet. Rotate your upper body, but do not move your feet. The only exception to your start position is if your feet are more than 3 inches apart from side to side. If this is you, then tuck your non-slide foot behind your slide foot to create space for your weight. You may have a little bit of a balance issue at first, but you will get comfortable after some practice, and it will become second nature.

4. Whatever you do, do not use your bowling ball for this drill. As a matter of fact, use anything but your bowling ball. I have two weights that I use for this drill. A 6lb medicine ball with handles is my favorite because it mimics the roundness of an actual ball.

AmazonBasics Medicine Ball with Handles, 6-lb
AmazonBasics Medicine Ball with Handles, 6-lb

I use this medicine ball for this drill and it works like a gem. I love that it is round like a bowling ball because it makes your body react to its shape much like you would a real bowling ball. I like to use the six pound medicine ball because it also forces my counterbalance muscles to work.

Neoprene Dumbbell Pairs by Day 1 Fitness - 3 Pounds - Non-Slip, Hexagon Shape, Color Coded, Easy To Read Hand Weights for Muscle Toning, Strength Building, Weight Loss
Neoprene Dumbbell Pairs by Day 1 Fitness - 3 Pounds - Non-Slip, Hexagon Shape, Color Coded, Easy To Read Hand Weights for Muscle Toning, Strength Building, Weight Loss

When I want to do this drill extra slow and with great care I use my 3lb neoprene dumbbells and hold one in each hand. Not only does this teach proper muscle memory but it also strengthens by balance shoulder.


Be creative; you can use a soup can for all I care, just not your bowling ball! Whatever you choose to use, make sure it is light enough for you to go slowly. The slower you can do the drill, the easier it will be for your muscles to reprogram your swing. Even free and relaxed swings use muscles. Improper mechanics are always a result of improper muscle use. This drill will teach your mind to use the correct muscles.

5. Exaggerate!! If you have a problem with your ball going behind your back on your swing, bring your back swing far outside your body for this drill. If you feel your swing is to low, bring your back swing tremendously high for this drill. It may seem ridiculous, but you need to exaggerate in the opposite direction to begin to bring your swing closer to a more desired location after drilling. The photo below is of USBC Gold coach Tyrel Rose demonstrating swing exaggeration.

Exaggerate your swing in the opposite direction of what you have been doing in the past.
Exaggerate your swing in the opposite direction of what you have been doing in the past.

The video shown previously follows this same rule. It shows young bowlers performing the figure 8 ball swing in reverse to correct the ball path from beginning to end. The idea is to exaggerate in the opposite direction, and eventually, you will meet somewhere in the middle.

6. Drill and drill often. Practice makes perfect, and without it, you will never be consistently better than you are right now. Pick an area of your swing to focus on and drill it to perfection. This drill can be used for swing direction, ball height, shoulder position, and balance arm position. This is a useful use it! Don't get bored with it; get excited about it. For real and permanent change, you will need to accumulate hours of doing this drill...not minutes. Remember, you have been doing the wrong thing for probably years now, so don't expect it to be corrected in mere moments.

You will revert.You will do weird things.What you must not do is give up.
You will revert.You will do weird things.What you must not do is give up.

Things to consider...

Your swing will not be fixed right away. As a matter of fact, you may see some wonky things happen with your swing when you return to real bowling. But don't give up. I will say it again. You have been bowling your way for a long time, changing things about your game will have to survive transition periods. Also, it will be very easy to revert. RESIST!!! When you find you have reverted, it just means you need to drill more. Get in your living room, grab your soup can, and get to work. Eventually, the results that you are looking for will show themselves on the lane. You will have a more consistent backswing, resulting in more consistent ball releases and more consistency hitting your mark and knocking down pins.


ProForm Purse Kettlebell by ProForm
ProForm Purse Kettlebell by ProForm

This is my traveling weight for this drill. I like it because it isn't to heavy and it's flat. It fits great into a bag or tucked in your trunk. It also provides great hand and finger position that translates well on the lanes.


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.

© 2019 Lani Morris


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