Determining Stance Distance & Position
Excerpt from Bowling Fundamentals - Second Edition By Michelle Mullen
Determining Stance Distance
To determine how far back to stand on the approach, walk up to the foul line and put your heels on the dots with your back to the pins. From the foul line, take four comfortable but brisk steps toward the back of the approach. (Add a step, if you use a five-step approach.) After the fourth (of fifth) step, add approximately another half step to allow for the slide. This will determine your approximate starting point for the approach. Again, walk naturally but briskly, because taking normal-sized steps, with momentum, is the key to a comfortable approach and the ability to repeat shots.
Determining Stance Position
To figure out which board to stand on, you need to identify the type of release you have, which influences the pocket you should use. Your positioning on the lane depends on your swing arm and the type of release. The type of release is determined by the direction of rotation imparted to the ball, which in turn determines the side from which the ball should enter the pins for maximum drive through the pocket. The ball should rotate toward the middle of the rack of pins for minimal deflection on impact. So determining which pocket to use and your position on the approach depends on the rotation of your ball.
A ball that does not curve of significantly rotate in either direction and whose path is virtually straight down the lane with a forward roll is called a straight ball. It does not hook in one direction or another. A bowler who throws a straight ball must be sure to hit around the head pin. A right-handed bowler with a straight ball uses the 1-3 pocket; a left-handed bowler uses the 1-2 pocket.
For the right-handed bowler, a ball that curves from right to left is a hook. Another way to define hook is to say that it is a ball that spins in a counterclockwise direction. A right-handed bowler with a hook uses the 1-3 pocket to maximize drive into the pocket through the pins on impact; a left handed bowler uses the 1-2 pocket.
The exception to a right-hander using the 1-3 pocket and counting the arrows from the right is the bowler who throws a reverse hook, or back-up ball. A reverse hook curves from left to right because it rotates in the opposite direction of the traditional hook. The reverse hook of a right-handed bowler rotates in the opposite direction of the traditional hook. The reverse hook of a right handed bowler rotates in a clockwise direction. To minimize ball deflection, a right-handed bowler who throws a reverse hook should use the 1-2 pocket to maximize the drive of the ball into the pins. Because the spin is like that of a left-handed hook, for simplicity I suggest that this bowler count the arrows from left to right, like a left-handed bowler, because he is using the left-side pocket.
Basically, right-handed bowlers use the right-side 1-3 pocket and count the boards and arrows starting from the right side of the lane. Left-handers use the left-side pocket and count the boards and arrows starting from the right side of the lane. Left-handers use the left-side 1-2 pocket and count the boards and arrows starting from the left side. The exception is the bowler who throws a reverse hook. or back-up ball. These bowlers use the opposite pocket, counting the arrows and target from the opposite side of the lane because of the reverse rotation on the ball.
Straight Ball; a) right-handed; b) left-handed
Note: bowlers should use the foot they end on at the finish to line up on the proper board in the stance. For right-handed bowlers, this is the left foot; for left-handers, this is the right foot. I suggest that you use the inside of your foot to line up.
A right-handed bowler who throws a straight ball and whose goal is to put the ball in the 1-3 pocket should stand just left of the middle dot on the approach. The middle dot is on board 20, and it is larget than the other dots. The left foot is approximately on board 23. The arm swing is lined up with the third arrow, and the third arrow is the target.
A left-handed bowler who throws a straight ball and whose goal is to put the ball in the 1-2 pocket should stand just right of the middle dot on the approach. The right foot is approximately on board 23. The arm swing is lined up with the third arrow, and the third arrow is the target.
A right-handed bowler who throws a hook ball uses the 1-3 pocket and can begin by standing just right of the center fot. The left foot is approcimately on board 18,and the target is close to the second arrow.
Hook ball: a) right-handed; b) left-handed
A right-hander who throws a reverse hook lines up for the 1-2 pocket. Unless you throw an aggressive reverse hook, line up using the third arrow from the left, with the left foot starting on approximately board 7 from the left. You need to stand this far over because the arm swing is on the right side of the body, but the pocket and target are on the left side of the lane. If your ball hooks a lot, you should play closer to the second arrow and adjust for lane conditions.
A left hander who throws a reverse hook lines up for the 1-3 pocket. (Note: It is rate for left-handed bowlers to throw a reverse hook.) The left-handed bowler lines up using the third arrow from the right, and the right foot starts approximately on board 7 from the right. It is necessary to stand this far over because the arm swing is on the left side of the body, but the pocket and target are on the right side of the lane. A left-handed bowler whose ball hooks a lot should play closer to the second arrow and adjust for lane conditions.
Reverse hook: a) right-handed; b) left-handed
These positions are just starting points and, as such, are subject to adjustments. Depending on where the ball hits (or misses) the pocket, the quality of the ball, and the amount of rotation you impart at release, you may stand slightly to the right or left of these boards in the stance to either adjust your angle or allow for how much the ball does or does not hook. The amount of hook is influenced by the amount of friction the ball creates with the lane, which is caused by the release and the type of ball thrown.
When you throw a ball with little or not hook and you miss the pocket, move your stance in the direction of your miss. This is, if you are a right-handed bowler and the ball is hitting more of the 3 pin, move to the right, keeping the same target, to create a more direct angle to the pocket. If you are a left-handed bowler and are hitting more of the 2 pin, then move to the left, keeping the same target, to create a more direct angle to the pocket. If the ball hits more of the headpin, or even the opposite pocket, move your stance in that direction to create less of an angle toward the pocket. These adjustments are based on having thrown a good shot!
When you throw a hook, the amount of friction the cover of the ball creates also influences when you stand in relation to the target. You may need to adjust your stance according to the amount of frictioin the ball creates with the lane. Although you will still move your feet in the same direction that the ball missed the pocket, this adjustment involves more than just adjusting your angle; you must also adjust to the lane conditions. The key is to make adjustments to fine-tune your position on the approach.
Mullen, Michelle. Bowling Fundamentals- Second Edition.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2014.