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Using Your Non-Bowling Arm

Using your non-bowling arm effectively can help bowlers averaging 170 or less in maintaining good balance and good target alignment during the approach. Since good balance and proper alignment with your bowling shoulder are important keys to making good bowling ball deliveries, knowing techniques in using your non-bowling arm will help you stabilize your body position as you walk to the foul line and be in position to make an accurate delivery.

For example, we see bowlers who will grab their sliding leg above the knee and hold on while they walk to the line and release the ball. A technique such as this leads to a loss of leverage and power and restricts a full follow-through motion.

Grabbing one’s leg also causes excessive bending from the waist, a loss of sighting the target on the lane, and errant deliveries.

Another example of improper use of the non-bowling arm is when a bowler allows their balance arm to swing suddenly behind their back when taking their approach. This technique leads to the bowling shoulder closing too quickly and may result in pulling the bowling ball off the intended target line.

The opposite effect can be ineffective for bowlers who do not hook the ball a great deal. When we see the balance arm in front of the body extended toward the pins, this technique invites the risk of the shoulders opening away from the target while the arm is swinging the bowling ball. The danger here is either not closing the shoulder to align with the target on the lane or over-rotating the shoulder and pulling the ball off line.

Holding the balance arm too low in relation to waist level and against the side of the leg might cause a loss of balance because the opposite side of the body has a heavy weight swinging forcefully with nothing to counter-balance on the non-bowling side of the body.

Holding the balance arm too high above the waist risks the shoulder level tilting much lower than the bowling shoulder and thereby risks a non-aligned swing path.

All of the above techniques are not very conducive to accuracy and good body balance.

Our staff at believes that a safe way to use your balance arm begins when first moving your ball into the swing cycle. Once the ball is moved into the swing arc, quickly remove your balance arm and hand off of the ball and swiftly re-position your arm to the opposite side of your body. Your balance arm should be fully extended away from your upper body and held about waist level and in the same direction with your shoulders.

From this position, you can adjust your non-bowling arm position to match with your shoulder tilt and alignment to the target on the lane. If you move your balance arm ahead of your body, your bowling shoulder may open slightly accommodating an inside to outside swing path. If you pull your balance arm slightly behind your non-bowling shoulder, then you may close your bowling shoulder relative to the target which accommodates an up-the-boards delivery style.

By raising your balance arm above your waist level, you can tilt the bowling shoulder downward slightly to help get the ball on the lane quickly.

Of course, if you hold your balance arm and hand extended away from your body about waist level, your shoulder lines will be fairly square and parallel to the floor.

Most players use moderate levels of maintaining the bowling shoulder slightly below the opposite shoulder while swinging the bowling ball. Generally speaking, the straighter you roll the ball, the more level you should keep your shoulders during your approach. In this case, keep your balance arm and hand at waist level throughout your approach and extended on a line parallel to your shoulder line to help you maintain good balance and shoulder alignment.

Your balance arm is a useful tool. Develop an awareness where you place your balance arm and hand once you begin swinging the bowling ball. Although there are always exceptions to any “rules of thumb”, try to maintain your balance arm positioning with respect to your shoulders throughout the entire approach and delivery process.

As in any sport, good balance leads to good results. Your chances for error increase when you introduce unneeded body movement during your approach. Good balance will help you improve your accuracy and your bowling scores.

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