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How To Throw A Strike In Bowling Part 1


Learning how to throw a strike in bowling is a big step to improving your overall scores. The goal of you beginner bowlers, newcomers to the game, or even if you have bowled competitively for some time and have a bowling average up to perhaps 135 or 140, is to deliver your ball into the pocket to give you the best chance at getting a strike. This article will be the first in a three part series of articles how to throw a strike in bowling and is intended in helping understand three key factors:

1. Pocket Location

2. Initial Alignment

3. Alignment Adjustments

Let's begin this first part of the series with addressing the pocket location. The center of the pocket is located on the 17.5 board on the pin deck. Using a right handed bowler as the example, the pocket is on the 17.5 board counting from the right edge of the lane. The center of the "head pin" pin spot on the pin deck is located on the 20 board, the exact center of the bowling lane, which also aligns with the center bowling arrow 15 feet beyond the foul line of the approach and with the center dots on the approach in various distances from the foul line.

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A pocket hit is one in which the bowling ball contacts the head pin first on the right side of the pin and then contacts the 3 pin next. Ideally, the angle of entry the bowling ball arrives at the pocket is about a 30 degree impact angle as the ball travels from bowlers right to bowlers left (right handed bowlers) but varies somewhat from player to player and with lane conditions.

With a sufficient angle of entry, the bowling ball will not deflect too severely to the right upon impact with the head pin and thereby will continue into the heart of the pin formation and contact the 5 pin next followed by the 9 pin. This type of entry angle will produce the best chance for a strike result. In some cases with high rev-rate players (those who rev-up the bowling ball and hook the ball a great deal), the ball will actually contact the 8 pin after the 5 pin and because of the high rev-rate and minimal deflection, and the chances of producing a strike are further enhanced.

It is recommended by the bowling ball manufacturers after years of testing and experimentation for you to release the ball between 18 - 21 miles per hour so the ball will generally impact the pins between 15 - 18 m.p.h. instantaneous velocity to give you the best chances of good pin carry and consistent ball motion through the pin deck. An average velocity between 16-18 m.p.h. is suggested for balls traveling down the entire distance of the lane to achieve optimum pin carry and to control bowling ball motion as consistently as possible.

It is fairly common to see new bowlers or social bowlers who have had no coaching exposure try to hurl the ball at speeds far faster than recommended by bowling ball manufacturers. When you, or any bowler rolls the ball too fast, the pins are launched at impact higher from the pin deck than desired for optimum pin carry and travel around the neck of adjacent pins or over the top of other pins instead of around the middle of nearby pins where the pins have a wider diameter. There is a science to good pin carry. Rolling the ball too fast can be as ineffective to consistent and effective pin carry as does rolling the ball too slowly.

Good pin carry also allows you to hit the pocket slightly high toward the head pin and contact the three pin while still getting a strike. This type of high-pocket hit usually results in the four pin (right handed bowlers) tilting over as the final pin to fall. In bowling slang, this is known as "tripping the four pin." Left handers will see the six pin topple last on a high pocket hit on the left side of the head pin.

By the same effect, a light pocket hit will result in either the 5 pin slashing across the pin deck to the 7 pin spot instead of being sent straight back into the pit as in the case of a solid pocket hit. A lighter pocket hit than slashing the 7 pin is one in which the ball barely contacts the head pin and the head pin bounces off of the kick panel near the 7 pin and then the 4 pin, the 7 pin, and the 5 pin are toppled by the head pin and 2 pins bouncing on the pin deck. This type of pocket strike is known commonly as a "wall shot."

When your bowling ball enters the pocket at an optimum speed and at a good angle of entry, your chances of striking are maximized. Don't expect a strike every time you hit the pocket but do try and hit the pocket every first ball delivery. Your percentage of strikes will increase as your number of pocket deliveries increases. It is certainly possible to get a strike on off pocket hits but your chances of striking repeatedly are best when your ball enters the pocket as described above.


Part 2 of this series provided courtesy of bowlingball.com will help you with initial alignment and targeting the pocket.

Click Here for Part Two
Click Here for Part Three

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