Bowling equipment is not extensive but choosing the right ball and learing to use a correct approach and stance can greatly affect your score and diminish the chance of injury.
It is believed that bowling was originally an Egyptian sport as archeologists uncovered a stone ball with nine pins dating back approximately 7,000 years ago. Although the number of pins and size of the ball has changed from country to country, Spain, England, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, France and England all enjoyed various versions of the game. In the fifteenth century England commoners opened the first tavern style bowling and called it an “alley”, as bowling drew a crowd of gamblers, hustlers and drinkers.
Yes, bowling was even banned in 1837 by the government of Connecticut in an effort to eliminate gambling before the National Bowling Association was formed in an effort to form rules of play, initiate lane inspections and created game standardization. Later taken over by the Professional Bowlers Association in 1958, bowling has remained a popular sport today.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT BALL
Bowling equipment is not extensive but choosing the right ball can greatly affect your score and diminish the chance of injury. There are three issues to remember when choosing a bowling ball.
This includes the size and location of the finger holes on the ball. The finger holes allow you to grip the ball with the thumb in the base and your middle and ring fingers in the holes. The distance or span between the balls that the bowling establishment provides can vary so you will need to “try on” various balls for their fit.
You want a ball that is the heaviest ball you feel you can control without needing to squeeze your fingers in an effort to hang onto the ball. Ideally, the ball should not require a tense grip. To test weight of the ball you have chosen, hold it in front of you with both hands, elbows locked and both arms extended. You should be able to maintain this stance for about 5 seconds.
Although admittedly bowling shoes are not the most attractive accessory, they are created with a more important purpose in mind. House shoes have leather on both soles to create a good skid-free base and resist excessive sliding when you approach the foul line. They also include a rubber heal to propel your approach. Make an effort to choose the right size shoe, as fit is equally important.
Before starting any sport or exercise it is a good idea to stretch out with exercises to warm up your muscles, and bowling is no exception. Stretch your torso, hands and fingers, arms, knees, hips, legs and feet about 5 minutes prior to bowling. Flex and stretch your calves, hamstrings and quads as well.
Your bowling stance is an important first step in learning how to properly bowl. Start by holding the ball in your non-bowling or balance hand. Standing about two feet from the end of the approach you need to line up your body with the set of dots closest to you. The dots on the floor of the bowling alley are designed to help you with your bowling stance. You are now in the “next-up” position and should be checking to make sure other bowlers in adjoining lanes are finished bowling before proceeding to your setup. Both of your toes should be pointed straight toward your target with your hips and shoulders parallel to each other and in line with your feet. Remember your posture and keep your chin up. This process is known as squaring up.
Take a good grip on your ball and align the ball with your shoulder, your forearm should be slightly bent up. Use your other hand to help you balance the ball. Focus on the second arrow on the floor in front of you. It is a good idea to take a deep breath, exhale and hold your stomach muscles tight to help you concentrate and have a true aim.
RELEASING THE BALL
Timing and balance are very important for a bowler to be successful. Counting out your footwork with precise rhythm can help keep your feet in time with your swing. Step 1 is to have the ball straight out in front and your heel down, as the ball is swung straight down your step with have continued to have the other heel down. Step 3 has the ball straight out in back and you begin the wingslide with heel down as well. When approaching release it is important not to bend your knees till the 3rd step and remember to use a heel-toe walking pattern. Keep your back straight and your hips and shoulders square to lower your center of gravity. Push into the slide after the fourth count as you release the ball toe down. Using the larger, stronger muscles in your back and legs you should follow through with a strong finish to complete the release.
Although far from a professional bowler, learning and practicing correct bowling procedures will certainly put you on the right track for moving on to mastering the curve ball or being able to hit a corner pin spare!