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How To Increase Bowling Ball Speed Originally Posted:  09/11/2001; Updated: 05/23/2024

Learning how to increase bowling ball speed and retaining control of the increased speed can be an important component in obtaining a good bowling ball reaction. If you are a bowler averaging about 180 or less (or if you are a senior bowler) in need of more ball speed when lanes hook too much for your normal deliveries, then following a few tips can help you in how to increase bowling ball speed and how to regulate that adjusted speed.

There are a couple of easy changes to your swing and footwork which will produce good results. First, let's keep in mind that dramatic changes from optimum ball speed ranges are normally not necessary. The bowling ball manufacturers recommend a bowling ball should be delivered at an average velocity of about 20 mph measured at the foul line and about 17 mph measured at the pin deck with a tolerance of perhaps 1 or 2 mph.

To combat the challenges presented by dry lane conditions, adding velocity to your ball while continuing to remain in-tolerance speed ranges can assist you in gaining a predictable and controllable ball motion. Many bowlers will struggle to maintain good balance and swing control when trying to increase their bowling ball speed. Caution should be taken to ensure you retain the ability to repeat quality deliveries by not over-swinging the ball too violently as to lose your balance walking to the foul line.

Trying to throw the ball overly hard is a common mistake many bowlers make, particularly when rolling cross lane at corner pin spares or on very dry lane conditions. If you are not well practiced at rolling the bowling ball at a very fast release velocity, you might tend to lose accuracy toward your siting target on the lane.

One important key after increasing your ball speed is to maintain that speed throughout the session. If you are struggling to maintain a fast ball speed and are losing balance and control of the ball, then use the most speed you can comfortably control and deliver consistently to get you through the given session on the lanes. Never use more than 85% - 90% full power with any deliveries.

If you wish to increase your ball speed, one adjustment you can easily implement is to hold your ball higher than normal (about a ball height higher) in your set-up position so the increased swing arc will provide more speed as desired. If you normally hold the ball at waist level, then hold the ball at shoulder level. If you normally hold the ball at knee level, then move the ball up to at least waist level or higher.

Begin your swing toward your desired swing path in a gradual rolling and arc shaped motion until your arm is fully extended as to create greater momentum on the down-swing and back-swing motions. Be careful to not push or extend your arm so far that your bowling shoulder also moves forward. Keep your shoulder in position and merely use the natural extension of your arm as the lever to swing the bowling ball.

Permit the ball to swing freely, swiftly and smoothly to the top of the back swing and again on the forward swing to a full follow-through position and toward your target. You may encounter a slight and acceptable increase in your footwork to match the increase in your swing speed. Your feet should match the pace of your swing to maintain good timing.

Tension in your arm and legs will cause a loss of ball speed. It cannot be stressed enough how important using tension free footwork and arm swing motion throughout the entire swing cycle is to maintaining increased ball speed and in making consistent deliveries of the bowling ball.

If you need only a very minor increased ball speed adjustment to get the ball to skid slightly farther down the lane when the oil pattern breaks down, then use a little less of an aggressive releasing action on the ball. Less finger rotation or a reduced snapping action trying to rev-up the ball will help you get fewer ball revs with more skid through the front end of the lanes.

For example, try to allow the ball to flow off of your hand without applying an aggressive amount of finger releasing action to help you achieve increased skid length. If you are a bowler using a wrist support device, then try to prevent your wrist from tilting forward too far as too hasten the exit of your bowling thumb too quickly which only causes you to use your finger action more aggressively than needed on dry lanes and, in turn, encourages the ball to read the mid lane too quickly. Strive to allow the thumb to exit the ball only very slightly before the fingers so your ball skid increases will will, in turn, reduce the amount of overall hook.

Please, practice these techniques and you will increase your ball speed and control. We recommend you consult with a certified coach or local bowling professional to develop good techniques in learning how to increase bowling ball speed.

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