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Learning The Bowling Four Step Approach

For new bowlers just beginning the game, we at recommend learning the bowling four step approach. By learning the bowling four step approach, you will build consistent footwork and be well on your way to developing a good bowling approach. This article will address the footwork used in a four step approach. Good bowling footwork begins by understanding and focusing on important keys which will help you develop a consistent approach to the foul line. Here are three keys to the four step approach:
1. Steps – Place your feet so your bowling shoe toes are pointing slightly toward your target and in the same direction. Spread your bowling shoes perhaps one or two boards apart for balance and stability and with your slide shoe an inch or two ahead of your balance leg shoe and set most of the body weight, perhaps 65% of your weight, onto the foot you are not beginning your first step with in your approach to the foul line. This technique can help transition your first step smoothly and at a consistent pace each delivery.

Take steps matching your normal walking stride. Begin with the right foot if you are a right handed bowler and end with your left foot which becomes the sliding step. The strategy is to not bounce or lose balance during your approach. Bowlers 6 feet in height will typically cover about 12 feet including the additional 6 inches or more of sliding action with a four step approach.
Since one set of dots on the approach measure 12 feet from the foul line, then a 6 foot tall bowler using a four step approach will likely be positioned on or near the these dots on the approach floor with the toes of their bowling shoes. If you are shorter than 6 feet and do not have a long walking stride, then position yourself closer to the foul line. Try and make sure you finish with the toe on your sliding bowling shoe only 6 inches or less from the foul line.
2. Tempo - The pace of your steps should be a continuous pace of movement as to produce a smooth walking motion to the foul line. Some bowlers will walk more rapidly than others. So long as the steps are taken with a uniform pace from step to step, then the swing will have sufficient time to match with your footwork.
Use a slight heel-to-toe action leading into the slide step. Each step should match in pace with the previous and be uniform in length, or close to uniform in length, preventing loss of balance. The slide step should glide into the approach evenly maintaining the flex in your sliding leg knee so your momentum built from the first steps can enable you to slide smoothly, with balance, and be in a good position to release the bowling ball.
Hastening the slide step or pushing off too quickly from the step before the slide can cause a thrusting action into the foul line and usually causes a hurried release of the bowling ball. It is important to maintain the same pace each step and for each delivery so your arm swing can be well timed with your footwork.
Try to maintain a slight amount of knee flex during the first three steps and allow your knee on your sliding leg to flex slightly more so the big muscles of your sliding leg are brought into use. The big muscles of the leg provide balance and stability during your slide step and also develop leverage and natural power as you transfer momentum from the first three steps into a long and smooth sliding step. The sliding step should begin with the bowling shoe on your slide foot contacting the approach smoothly and with an equal amount of pressure on both the sole of the shoe and the heel of the shoe.
If your legs are too stiff with no flexing motion on your initial steps, then it will be difficult to enter into the sliding step and transfer your body weight onto the sliding step while still maintaining good balance with your upper body while you are sliding. Try and take straight steps with your shoes aligned in a parallel manner, or very close to parallel, with the boards on the lane. Your sliding step should slide toward the center part of your body so you can maintain good balance while delivering the bowling ball.
3. Direction – An extremely important key to accuracy and to consistent approaches is the direction you walk to the foul line. It cannot be emphasized enough how vital walking your lines is to achieving a target-seeking arm-swing and accuracy in your deliveries. A good objective for new bowlers, or for anyone trying to develop good footwork, is to walk as perfectly straight of a line as to end on the same board with your sliding bowling shoe as where the shoe was positioned originally on the approach in your set-up position.
Regardless of where you position yourself laterally on the approach for spares or for a strike ball delivery, it is a good goal to not drift away from where you began. Try making steps which are placed under the center of your body to maintain balance and result in an effectively straight path to the line. Each step should be measured in length and placed directly under the center of the body for maximum balance. Try to limit your drift, either to the left or to the right, to about two boards from your set-up alignment so your arm-swing path can easily remain aligned to your target path on the lane.

These three keys will help you in learning the bowling four step approach and will result in greater consistency and improved accuracy. We highly recommend getting a good pair of bowling shoes right away and using the services of a professional bowling instructor or certified coach to help you learn the fundamentals of a good bowling approach. The cost of a bowling lesson can be less than the price of a new bowling ball or pair of bowling shoes. A bowling lesson to get you started is well worth the investment and will help you become familiarized with the components of a four step approach.
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