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Bowling Arm Swing Direction

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 direction.

By moving the ball held in front of your bowling shoulder in your stance position, regardless if you are holding the ball knee high, waist high, or shoulder level, outward and downward toward your target where you site on the lane, you 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 toward your target, 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.

If you are a bowler who wishes to roll the ball down the boards with a slight hook into the pocket, then the bowling arm swing direction is critical. Try allowing the back swing motion to move on a path aligned with your down lane target and ending at the top of your back swing near or beyond shoulder high level which permits the forward swing to follow a path aligned to the down lane target. As you release the ball, follow through toward your target by making sure your hand goes toward your target following the ball in the same direction.

If you are a right handed bowler and your hand follows through to the left of your target, you may have pulled the ball inside your intended target path, correct? Work at keeping your bowling arm elbow behind, and in line, with your hand and the ball as the ball enters into the releasing zone near your slide shoe. After the release, maintain keeping your elbow and your hand in line with one another and with the direction the bowling ball is traveling to the target on the lane. Keep the inside edge of your elbow close to your body on your forward swing and aligned to your target. Regardless of how straight you roll your ball or how much you hook your ball, it is important to maintain this swing relationship with your bowling elbow, bowling hand, your body, and the follow-through direction all aligned to hit your target so your ball will end up in the pocket.

If you are a bowler with a high rev-rate and one who hooks the ball a great deal, the notion of a straight arm swing does not really match your intended swing path or ball path toward your target on the lane. In fact, a perfectly straight swing only matches with bowlers rolling a fairly straight delivery with perhaps a slight hook on the back end of the lane.

Bowlers who hook the ball a great deal should allow the back swing to arrive either directly behind the shoulder at the top of the back swing, tuck slightly to the inside of the shoulder perhaps two to four inches, then swing forward toward the target. On the forward swing, the ball will then re-align from a straight path to an inside-out path and the angle of the ball after its released toward the target will match the forward swing path prior to the release. The ball will then continue heading toward the break point on the lane.

This type of swing alignment is commonly referred to as "an inside-out swing." The ball is released from a board left of the target (for right handed bowlers) and closer to the middle of the lane or the left side of the lane depending on your alignment on the lane, and then travel to a target further toward the edge of the lane so the ball will not hook sooner than needed and miss the target and the pocket. Due to the hook potential created by your bowling release technique, high rev players must align the swing to match the ball path after the release.

An "outside-in swing" is a term commonly used to refer to a bowler trying to create an angle from the outside edge of the lane to the pocket as is the case with a straight ball delivery where angle is needed from the release point just beyond the foul line toward the middle of the lane where the pocket is located at the pin deck. Also, bowlers who roll the ball perfectly straight "up-the-boards" along the edge of the lane (from the 2- 4 board at the arrows on the lane) and then allow for the ball to hook to the pocket will use a straight path back-swing back and straight forward swing or will use the outside-in swing path so the ball is able to hook back to the pocket down the lane. An outside-in swing path is not ideal for playing inside angles where a bowler must release the ball on an inside out path to the break point down the lane. Most coaches today will not teach an outside-in swing alignment.

One tendency of bowlers who do not have very straight arm swing paths is to over rotate the bowling shoulder as the ball swings back to the top of the swing beyond, reasonable levels, and then over rotate the same shoulder on the forward swing and before the ball reaches the release zone. This over-rotation motion tends to create an unneeded outside-in swing path motion because the swing tucks in behind the shoulder blade and then moves to the outside edge of the shoulder before the forward swing making it difficult to maintain an inside-out target alignment as the ball is released and travels down the lane. Whether you roll the ball straight, relatively with little hook, or with a big hook motion, align your swing to match the desired path, avoid excessive shoulder rotation opening and closing, and follow through toward your target down the lane.

Another tip about the forward swing is that 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 direction toward your target. With some practice, you can improve your swing direction and play multiple angles on the lane which is the secret to higher scores.

If you have any questions about swing direction techniques, we recommend you seek consultation with a certified bowling coach or with a top amateur/professional player in your area to work at improving the effectiveness of your arm swing. While you are here at our site, please take some time to examine our extensive list of bowling products and kindly be reminded that our discounted prices are available with free shipping on every item at When you are ready to make your purchase, simply follow our easy online order instructions because our store is open 24 hours per day, each and every day. Thank you for visiting!