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Questions on arm swing, urethane bowling balls and approach – March 2009

Q: Two coaches advised me to incorporate a free armswing, and I’ve been working on it. My problem is that my ball speed is still slow because the shoulder muscles get really tight going into and at the top of my swing. I have a five-step approach and push the ball into the swing slightly after my second step. Once it reaches the top, I can’t relax my muscles. What should I do?

A: It sounds like you’re trying to control the bowling ball in your armswing. First, you should push the ball away at the beginning of your second step. Push it straight forward and let the weight of the ball swing the arm downward and back as you proceed with your second through fifth steps. Remember that the ball swings the arm — not the other way around.

Q: I am a senior bowler well into my 60s and am very frustrated. I had been using an old urethane bowling ball for decades and decided to upgrade to a new weapon. So I had a 16-lb. ball drilled and, frankly, I can’t handle it. It moves rather dramatically on the back end no matter where I move my target or my feet. Then I obtained another ball, a 14-pounder, and had it drilled for minimum action. Same result: too much back-end. I can flatten the release and try to kill the hook, but that doesn’t always work. Is there any ball that could give good pin action but not be as reactive on house patterns?

A: As a fellow older guy, I share your frustration. As
we get up in age, it’s more difficult for us to get the speed needed to control the big-hooking balls. I’d suggest going back to a urethane ball;
check with your pro shop operator for recommendations. While urethane does not have the hooking power of the high-tech equipment,
it will be much easier for you to control, and also should result in spares that are much easier to convert.

Q: I have had both knees replaced, and ever since I’ve had problems bowling. Do you think a one-step approach might help, or should I stay with four steps and practice more? I’ve gone from a 180 average down to 135 — very embarrassing. Any ideas?

A: The problem with taking only one step is being able to generate enough ball speed to control the ball down the lane. Even though the knee replacements are keeping you from taking a “free” approach, a lighter ball should help you create some reasonable
speed. Stay away from highly reactive balls, as they require a good deal of speed in order to be most effective. Good luck.