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Coordinating the Swing: Is It Just a Simple Matter of Getting the Ball Over the Foul Line? – June 2010 – Par Bowling by Tom Kouros


THERE ARE MANY FUNDAMENTALS in golf and bowling that are similar, none more pronounced than where to effect the “explosion point” in the swing. This phrase signifies the point in the swing where the hand is utilized to apply all the action-producing factors on the ball — extension, turn and lift.

The tendency in golf is to “release” the hands before they get over the ball. Likewise, in bowling, overanxious players tend to start the release too early in the downswing; i.e., before the ball is adjacent to the knee of the last step. Others are prone to wait too long, thus releasing the ball only after it has moved well beyond the knee.

The legendary Sam Snead, who possessed one of the greatest swings in golf, underlined that talent when he began to sing the old ballad, “You ain’t got a thing if you don’t have that swing.” It merely served to dramatize the critical bearing this aspect has on the game.

One of bowling’s great coaches, John Jowdy, would just as enthusiastically endorse this conviction. In fact, knowing John, he’d probably go so far as to write his own song.

Over the years, Paul Krumske, Bill Lillard, Dick Weber, Don Johnson, George Pappas and David Ozio are just some of the reknowned bowlers I’ve witnessed with great swings. But unquestionably, the Sam Snead of bowling was Dave Davis. Where the swings of other notables were made of such materials as orlon, nylon or even fine wool, his swing was pure silk; smooth and flawless, it was a gift from the bowling gods.

When a bowler “hits” the ball early, some — or all — of the action efforts are negated because the thumb is still at least partially inserted in the ball, thus countering the action of the hand and fingers. Obviously, this error creates an ineffective and inconsistent release, which leads to “dumping” or “pitching” the ball onto the lane, the latter tendency resulting from having to re-grip the ball after the initial hit.

For this reason, a bowler must acquire the patience and discipline to wait for the ball to get to the proper release point before “playing his hand,” so to speak. Early in my bowling career, I recall turning many bad outings around after a sympathetic “old timer” had sidled up to me and said, “Relax, kid. Just get the ball out over the foul line.” These words most often had a magical effect.

On the other hand, as mentioned, it is possible to wait too long before effecting the release. If the ball hasn’t been released before it gets 2-feet beyond the sliding knee, leverage is progresssively sacrificed commensurate with the extent of the distance. Some exception unquestionably would apply here related to the variance in the bowler’s height, arm length, etc. However, hitting early is mostly the problem.

At times, even advanced bowlers regress by effecting this negative. So, always guard against this happening. Toward that end, players most often use mental keys to asssist them in effecting the release at the proper point in the swing. One that I used for many years with good results was “wait-roll-stroke,” meaning wait for the ball to come down to the proper position, initiate the release by rolling the ball with the hand moving through the ball, and finally lift through it. In this regard, most bowlers don’t completely trust their ability to get everything in. This lack of faith leads to most of the mentally contrived “illicit behavior.”

Finally, let’s mention two practice exercises for correcting faulty set-down areas on the lane. If you have a tendency to set the ball down early, place a towel approximately a foot beyond the foul line and practice getting the ball over the towel.

On the other hand, if you tend to release too late, concentrate on rolling the ball to the target instead of reaching for it, or pitching it onto the lane.

Posted with permission from Luby Publishing Inc.




 



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