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Bowling Arm Swing Tempo


The Swing is the Thing!! The key components of an effective bowling arm swing are speed control and accuracy to your target. Tempo and direction have always been keys of successful arm swings so let's begin by examining one of these essential components, the bowling arm swing tempo.

By moving the ball held in front of your bowling shoulder in your stance position on the approach outward and downward toward your target will set the pace and the direction of your swing into motion. Try to sequence the beginning movement of the ball with the first step of a four step approach or slightly before the first step. Once the ball is in motion, seek a free, smooth, and uncontrolled back swing along your target path allowing the ball to reach shoulder level or higher directly behind your shoulder at the completion of the back swing.

The looseness of the back swing sets the stage for overall pace and establishes good bowling arm swing tempo. If your push-away motion and back swing are restricted and slowed because of tension in your arm muscles, then the tempo of the swing will not be consistent from delivery to delivery. It is important to develop a "gravity swing" whereby the smoothness and looseness of your arm swing comes from relaxing the muscles in your bowling arm as to allow the ball to swing uninterrupted from the beginning of the swing throughout the back swing and upward to the full extension the radius or shape of your swing will naturally permit.

Some bowlers have longer and more supple muscles than other bowlers. Bowlers with high back swings may reach beyond shoulder level at the top of the back swing motion, or higher, whereas shorter arm players or players with very controlled and slower speed swings will not create a high back swing arc. A short swing arc will not normally provide the speed of motion needed to achieve a back swing level equal to or higher than shoulder level. A short swing arc is effective so long as the overall ball speed is in an appropriate speed range and not delivered too slowly.

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Tight muscles move more slowly than loose muscles. Regardless of your arm length or physical structure, allow your arm muscles to remain relaxed and maintain the same grip pressure with your bowling fingers and thumb on the ball throughout the swing. If you have to squeeze the bowling ball to prevent it from dropping during your swing process, then the holes are too loose and you will need to adjust the hole sizes with use of bowling tape.

If we examine other types of athletes, fighters punch more quickly by relaxing their forearm muscles than if those muscles were taut or very tense; in boxing, speed is essential. Golfers work on improving swing speed by allowing the arm muscles to relax and use a very light grip pressure on the club handle to maximize overall swing speed. Basketball players relax the muscles in their shooting motions so they can repeat the right arc and distance of shots so the ball will drop into the hoop and score points. Baseball batters relax their arm muscles so they can react quickly to 90 MPH fast balls being delivered by pitchers standing only 60 feet from them on the pitchers mound.

Therefore, the bowling ball should be held with relatively light gripping pressure with slightly more pressure imparted on the bowling finger pads than on the inside gripping portion of the thumb. A consistent and light gripping pressure throughout the entire back and forward swing motions allows the muscles of the bowling swing to move smoothly and unencumbered toward the top of the back swing and forward to completion of the follow-through motion.


The forward swing should move downward and under your shoulder arriving next to the ankle of your slide foot with about one inch of space, or less, to avoid hitting the ankle as your hand begins the releasing process. Ideally, the front part of your bowling arm (where blood is normally drawn in a laboratory) should be facing the pins at the moment of release. The forward-swing continuing motion after the release, known as the follow-through, should also maintain a target orientation. The swing should follow-through high enough as to allow the elbow of your bowling arm to attain shoulder height or higher each and every delivery. These tips will help you produce an effective swing tempo and also help you regulate ball speed control. With some practice and awareness of how much muscle tension is needed in a bowling swing, you will develop a very consistent swing pace and repeat good shots effectively.

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