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Line Up To The Bowling Pocket

Increase your "strike" potential with a high percentage of pocket hits. Getting aligned to the pocket is your first challenge as a bowler. When you hit the pocket, you leave easy spares to convert. The goal of all bowlers is to deliver the ball into the pocket and get a strike. If you don't strike, the goal is to pick up the spare you leave standing.

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.

A pocket hit for right handed bowlers is one in which the bowling ball contacts the head pin on the right side of the pin and next contacts the 3 pin. Ideally, the angle of entry the bowling ball arrives at the pocket is 6 degrees for optimum pin carry. For a right-handed bowler with a good angle of entry, the ball will not deflect too severely to the right upon impact with the head pin and will continue into the heart of the pin formation contacting the 5 pin followed by the 9 pin.

Since most house conditions at bowling centers across the country use a lane oiling procedure which creates the highest volume of oil conditioner located between the 2nd arrow on the right of the lane and the 2nd arrow on the left side of the lane, it is a common practice to seek an initial alignment at the 2nd arrow on the lane as a sighting target and then make a fine tune adjustment according to your delivery style and the bowling ball you are using.

Adjustments in initial alignment will be needed when a ball is delivered accurately toward the 2nd arrow but does not end up solidly impacting the pocket. In cases where the oil condition is extremely heavy and your ball slides a little too far and misses the pocket to the right or barely contacts the head pin, adjust your initial alignment on the approach and where you sight near the 2nd arrow, to the right.

If you miss the pocket left, move left. These are rule-of-thumb adjustments. There are always exceptions to any rule. The amount of adjustment for missing the pocket from your initial alignment, either to the left or to the right, depends on how far you missed the pocket after rolling your ball over your target. Start with simple adjustments such as moving your feet two boards and your target on the lane one board in the same direction.

When the ball slides too far and barely hits the head pin to the right (for right handed bowlers), move your feet two boards right and your target on the lane one board right. This will close your angle and create a more direct route for your ball to contact the pocket. If your ball still does not make it to the pocket solidly after adjusting this 2:1 ratio to the right, adjust another 2:1 boards to the right.
Continue making 2:1 ratio adjustments until your angle matches to the oil conditions and your ball finally contacts the pocket solidly at the 17.5 board.

Adjusting 2:1 boards to the left in the opposite direction from your initial alignment position will work for lanes with less than heavy oil that are causing your ball to hook too early and miss the pocket to the left (in the case of right handed bowlers).

Multiple adjustments of 2:1 boards, either left or right, will either close your angle to the pocket on oily lanes or open your angle to the break point down the lane on dry lanes. Lane conditions may cause you to adjust several times before getting proper alignment to the pocket, depending on how heavy the oil is that you encounter or how dry the lanes become. Do not fear making these adjustments and targeting areas of the lane away from your original alignment positioning.

Remember, your feet are not nailed to the floor. Moving your position on the approach and your sighting target on the lane will help you re-establish good alignment when the lane conditions change. Don’t fear making adjustments. Trust what you see and use common sense in adjusting any number of boards to use the lane pattern to your advantage.

Once you learn a system of making lane adjustments to line up to the bowling pocket, you can count on your scores improving.