Bowling Tips for Beginners
Introduction: Don't Look at the Pins
A rookie bowling mistake to make is looking at the pins. This is a huge beginner-bowler mistake, and whenever I give someone bowling tips, the first thing I ask is what they look at when they bowl. Most of them say the pins which is the improper way to do it. Learn more on why this is, where to actually look, and more in this article on other bowling tips, including:
- As mentioned already, where to look when you bowl
- Proper bowling etiquette
- How to make the ball "hook"
- Instructions for buying a bowling ball
Where to Look When You Bowl
Ideally, depending on how low you want to release the ball, you will look either at:
- The arrows. A third of the way down the lane there are seven arrows in the shape of an arrow pointing towards the pins. Most people are going to lean towards looking at the arrows, just from what I've seen.
- The dots. Halfway between the arrows and the foul line are a set of dots that are also intended to help you line up your shot and mark board numbers.
- The foul line. The closer to the foul line you look, the lower you will (probably) release the ball. This means the ball will come off of your hand at say, three inches above the lane, instead of ten, if you look at the dots instead of the arrows. That's assuming that everything else is constant, which it usually isn't. The foul line is probably not going to be a factor. I have aimed at it per instruction, but it was an instruction intended for training rather than permanent use.
Where you look when you bowl will make you bowl better. I've seen amazing improvements in score (from 50 to 100 in one game) from just changing where you look. You'll be more accurate and . . . there's a little-known bowling secret, too. Don't tell anyone but . . . you'll actually enjoy bowling more!
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Bowling etiquette is very important. If you're going to bowl seriously, or just bowl at all, please make sure you respect bowling etiquette. It's not very hard, but people seem to not realize these few simple things:
- Do not stand on the approach. The approach is the wood area where you stand when you're ready to bowl (in other words, where you go to "approach" the actual bowling portion). After you bowl or while you're waiting to bowl, please step away. Never stand on the approach unless you are actually in the process of picking up the ball and bowling! As soon as the ball hits the pins, you should be making your way back to the area behind the approach (where the seats are). If you are to go again, you should continue to wait there and not step onto the approach until it's your turn. This is very important and worth putting first because of it.
- Wait your turn. Again, this is regarding the approach area. If there is someone bowling on the lane to either side of you, don't step on the approach until the other person has started to bowl. As soon as they start their movement towards the foul line, you are allowed to step up. Not before!
- Don't use balls that aren't yours. This should be a given! Don't use other people's balls without asking. Though, really, you shouldn't even ask . . . it's a bit awkward.
- Don't yell or shout things. It's not cute at all but just annoying.
- Don't kick the ball return.
- No mockery or taunting. Bowling is a game of respect, especially in leagues and tournaments.
- Don't hit or try to hit the pin-sweeper. This should be plainly obvious.
- Don't throw several balls at once. Don't be stupid.
How to Make The Ball "Hook" in Bowling
How do you make the ball hook in bowling? For starters, you really can't make the ball hook with any kind of consistency without buying a quality ball. This is the first thing I tell anyone who asks how to hook it.
- The only way to hook a house or plastic ball (most house balls are plastic, but you will occasionally find a low-level urethane ball if the house recycles old balls) with any power is to use fewer fingers, exaggerate a cupped hand, and jerk your arm up as fast as you can when you throw the ball. Even then, I have seen a few people who can hook a plastic ball in the way I described and score half-decently, and they are by far the exception to the rule.
- Regardless of whether you can manage to get a board or two of movement out of the alley-supplied balls, a quality bowling ball from a pro-shop will hook way harder, have way more power, and make it far more possible for you to throw strikes. To clarify: two-handed bowlers may be able to hook a plastic ball without changing their form much. However, if they throw at their normal speed, a ball like that isn't going to move anywhere but straight.
So with that said . . . read on to learn how to buy a quality bowling ball.
Instructions on Buying a Bowling Ball
- Visit your local pro shop. These are located at most bowling alleys. Get some information, tell them what you aspire to, and have them watch you bowl as well.
- Purchase a quality ball. Follow their recommendations as to what kind they think you should buy. Any normally-priced, decent ball will run you at least $100. Luckily, there are usually packages and deals. You don't need a $200 ball to get started, but the cheapest won't be any better than using one off the racks
- Get a finger tip grip drilling! If they try to tell you that you need a conventional grip, simply explain that you would like to improve your bowling and would like a finger tip grip drilling. Trust me, this will make a different.
- Bowl! Have fun!
Videos of My Progress
The videos I posted below are of me at two different points in my bowling development. In the first one, I was very much a beginner—I hadn't started taking lessons with my instructor in Charlotte and had only been bowling for a couple of years. I had a terrible approach and weird mechanics. In the one after that, however, I had taken a bunch of lessons, practiced a lot, and I was feeling pretty good about how I was bowling at that point. Enjoy!