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Do's And Don'ts of Good Bowling Footwork, Originally Posted: 7/1/2012; Updated: 12/21/2023

Learning the Do's and Don'ts of good bowling footwork for beginners will help build consistent footwork synchronized with the arm swing. Good footwork fundamentals are always used in developing a sound bowling approach. It all starts with the understanding of the Do's and Don'ts of good bowling footwork.

Here are a few "Do's and Don'ts" for newcomers to the game which can be used as checkpoints in making a good bowling approach:

Do: Use your natural length walking stride for consistent footwork. In a standard four-step approach, begin with the right foot (if you are a right handed bowler) and end with your sliding step, your left foot.

Don't: Stand all the way back on the approach on or near the guide dots 15 feet from the foul line. Bowlers 6 feet in height will typically cover about 12 feet plus or minus 6 inches allowing for the slide with a four step approach. If you have a long walking stride, use the set of dots on the approach measuring 12 feet from the foul line. Bowlers without a long walking stride should be positioned closer to the foul line, in the 10-11 foot range. It is recommended that the toe on the sliding bowling shoe finishes only 6 inches or less from the foul line.

Do: The strategy is to keep your head and shoulders stable and motionless while walking to the foul line.

Don't: Race or lunge with your steps causing you to bounce and thrust your upper-body back or forward during your approach causing a loss of balance and errant deliveries.

Do: The pace of steps should be slow enough as to produce a smooth walking motion to the foul line with a slight heel-to-toe action leading into the slide step. Each step should match in pace with the previous and be fairly uniform in length to prevent loss of balance. The slide step should glide into the approach with the sole and heel of the bowling shoe sliding evenly and smoothly from the momentum built from the first steps.

Don't: Run or use hurried steps faster than your walking pace. Hastening the slide step, or pushing off too quickly from the step before the slide, can cause a thrusting action into the foul line which in turn causes a hurried bowling ball delivery.

Do: It is important to maintain even tempo each step for maintaining good body balance. Swinging the bowling ball will help you gain natural momentum even when you feel each step is taken at the same pace.

Don't: Take a quick first step and then try to slow down in the middle steps and then charge into the foul line on the final sliding step.

Do: 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 in the four step approach.

Don't: Walk stiff legged with little or no knee flex and then lunge into the final sliding step by bending suddenly from the waist and trying to stretch out a long sliding step coupled with a forced delivery of the ball.

Do: Walking straight lines is key in achieving a good arm-swing and accuracy when delivering the ball. A good objective is to walk as straight of a line as possible ending on the same board with the sliding bowling shoe at the foul line as where the shoe was positioned originally in your set-up position, regardless where on the approach you are aligned. Limiting the amount of drift, either to the left or to the right, to about two boards from the initial set-up alignment will also help the arm swing seek a path toward the target.

Don't: Drift severely right or left off of a straight line path on the approach when making strike or spare deliveries. Each step should be measured in length and placed under the center of the body for maximum balance and to limit drifting off of a straight path to the foul line. Walking to the right of a straight path to the foul line (right handed bowlers) means that your arm swing will have to take a re-aligned route to avoid hitting your leg while swinging the bowling ball. Walking in front of your swing path can cause errant deliveries.
These keys of good footwork will help you establish a solid bowling approach resulting in consistency and 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 additional fundamentals of a good bowling approach. A bowling lesson is well worth the investment and helps familiarize a new bowler with the components of a good bowling approach.

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