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TARGET PRACTICE: The Eyes Have It When It Comes To Targeting

We say it over and over in bowling: Consistent success on the lanes is about adjustments. Ideally, the best adjustments are the ones you can make without having to move laterally on the lane. Once you start moving your feet left or right, you change all of your angles and that’s much more difficult. The longer you can stay in one spot, the more consistent your swing path, the more consistent your launch angle and the more confident you’ll be.
Targeting is one of the easiest ways to make subtle adjustments in your game. It’s also one of the least utilized. I always ask bowlers where they’re targeting. Most times the response is a vague, “Out there.” That approach doesn’t help much when the lane starts changing and you start losing your shot to the pocket. If you don’t have any idea of where your ball was going through the front part of the lane, how will you know how to adjust?
Targeting is simply picking a spot in the front half of the lane that you think will get your ball to within a board or two of your desired break point. With today’s balls, if you can get to within a few boards at the break point, the ball does the rest.
Here’s the trick on targeting: You target with your eyes, and the closer you move your eyes to the foul line, the sooner your ball gets into a roll. The farther down lane your target, the more likely you are to overthrow the ball and project it down lane. Additionally, targeting closer to the foul line makes it easier to throw the ball out toward the gutter. Targeting farther down lane tends to narrow the path of the ball.
Here’s how that works. Let’s say you’re targeting the No. 10 board at the arrows to get out to your break point at the No. 4 board, but you keep pulling the ball left of your target. Try bringing your target from the arrows to the dots. You’re still trying to get the ball over the No. 10 board at the arrows, but by targeting the dots you’ll notice that it’s easier to get the ball out to that break point. You don’t need to adjust your feet or your angles. Because your eyes are closer to the foul line it’s easier to project the ball in that direction.
So why would someone want to target farther down the lane? Dry conditions tend to make the ball roll earlier, making it necessary to project the ball farther down the lane to reach the desired break point. Remember, targeting closer to the foul line not only gets your ball into a roll earlier, it allows you to get the ball farther out toward the gutter. It increases your launch angle. Conversely, if you play the lanes straight with a shallow launch angle — not much left or right — targeting farther down the lane will make it easier to keep your line tighter.
— Bryan O’Keefe is Team USA Assistant Coach and Facility Manager at the International Training and Research Center.
Permission granted by USBC/Luby Publishing
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