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Top Tips - March 2012 - Adjusting Ball Speed

Earl Anthony was known for being able to adjust his ball speed to adapt to different lane conditions. How can I change my ball speed without losing my timing?

Jeff Combs Answers...

We all could use a bit more ball speed. One technique stands out for me: To increase your ball speed, increase the “size” of your swing. A big swing can produce more speed. To alter that size, I use three basic starting positions. Waist-high ball height is a good benchmark for medium swing/speed. Use a lower position — somewhere between knee and hip — for a lower swing and slower speed. Finally, use a higher starting position in the area of the chest or shoulder for greater swing and ball speed.

When you vary your swing, your footwork has to match. A big, long swing takes longer than the medium swing, requiring slower-paced footwork. If you enhance the length of your steps, move back a little on the approach. Applying this concept for less ball speed, start the ball lower in the stance, resulting in a ball delivered at a slower pace. Since this swing is shorter, it takes less time and will require shorter and quicker steps. Moving up on the approach keeps steps shorter. In both cases, it is important to let the foot speed match up to the swing. Although these techniques may require practice, a little effort could expand your comfort zones for more consistent scores.

This technique also can be used as a fix for timing. If you feel sluggish, move the ball up in the stance to match those lazy feet. If you are a little amped up, then lower the ball to accommodate your faster-paced approach.

Carol Norman Answers...

Changing ball speed is one way to adjust to changing lane conditions. But remember, a ball speed change of one mile-per-hour equates to two or three boards of hook difference. Timing is directly related to the relationship between the bowling arm and footwork. But if you try to increase ball speed using faster feet without changing the armswing, the feet will arrive at the foul line too soon and the armswing has to be rushed to catch up.

To slow ball speed, move up on the approach 3 to 6 inches and lower the ball in the stance the same amount. If you want to increase ball speed, you can move back on the approach 3 to 6 inches, which will lengthen footwork. Raise the ball in the stance the same amount, increasing the arc of the swing for increased ball speed. The key to these changes is relaxing the armswing.

Here are some practice drills you might try to change your ball speed. To increase speed, move the ball first, then step when using a four-step delivery and chase swing. For a five-step approach, move the ball before the second step.
To decrease speed, take the first step, then move the ball on the second step when using a four-step delivery. Five-steppers should move the ball on the third step. Just knowing how to do something will not make the change for you. Change can be awkward and uncomfortable, so go to your local bowling center and practice these changes in order to master them.

Jeff Combs is the Manager of Milwaukie Bowl in Milwaukie, Ore. A six-time BJI Top 100 Coach, he is a Silver Level Coach who happens to also be an IBPSIA Certified Technician. Contact him at 503-654-7719, or email him at jbowlc@aol.com.

Carol Norman is a five-time BJI Top 100 Coach who is in the USBC Hall of Fame. Her coaching bona fides include being Silver Certified and a Bronze Master Coach. She also was the ball driller at the Storm Booth for four years. Email her at deeconn300800@att.net.

Posted with permission from Luby Publishing Inc.