Great bowling isn’t just about the body movements and arm swing – it’s also about the footwork, perhaps even more so because it’s a significant factor in your drive. Indeed, getting your arm swing and footwork in sync is among the pillars of getting the best possible scores in every game! With that said, here are the basics of footwork, or the dos and don’ts, in bowling that every aspiring bowler should learn.
Walk Like You Would in Daily Life
There’s no bowling-specific stride although there’s a way of starting the approach properly. You should always use your walking stride including its natural length on the approach since it makes things easier. You don’t have to shorten or lengthen your natural walking stride, particularly when you’re aiming for consistent footwork.
Instead, start your approach with your right foot and end it with your left foot, also known as your sliding step. This is true if you’re a right-handed bowler; if you’re a left-handed bowler, then start with your left foot and end with your right foot.
But you should adjust your position on the approach depending on the length of your natural walking stride. If you’re a tall person with a long walking stride, you should use the guide dots on the approach about 12 feet from the foul line. You will then have sufficient room for the slide when you’re using the four-step approach.
But if you don’t have a long walking stride, you should ideally be positioned closer to the foul line, which should be about 10 to 11 feet. At this point, the toe of your sliding shoe should only be 6 inches or less from the foul line when you finish with the approach.
Be Mindful of Your Pace
Keep in mind that the speed of your steps should be controlled. The speed of your steps should be slow enough to generate a smooth walking motion from the approach to the foul line but not too slow as to lose your momentum. You should also have a slight heel-to-toe action from the first step to the slide step, as well as ensure that your walking strides are fairly uniform in length; otherwise, you will likely lose your balance.
You should also practice so that your slide step has a smooth feel to it. Your bowling shoe’s sole and heel should also slide smoothly and evenly so there’s a smooth flow from the first to the slide steps.
One of the worst things you can do is to use hurried steps or adopt brisk walking on your approach. If you speed up on your slide step or push off too quickly from the pre-slide step, you will likely make a thrusting action into the foul line. The result: Your bowling ball delivery will be hurried and your aim will not be true.
This is also true for movements where you seem to lunge or race with your steps resulting in a bouncing and thrusting movement with your upper body during the approach. Once you do the lunging movements, you will likely have errant deliveries, if not lose your balance altogether. The best thing to do here is to keep your head and shoulders as stable as possible – motionless, if you can – while you’re walking to the foul line.
Yet another pace-related mistake is taking the first step too quickly, slowing down in mid-step and nearly charging into the foul line on the sliding step. You should keep an even pace in all four steps in a standard four-step approach since it means smoother delivery.
Walk in a Straight Line
When you’re delivering the ball, you should walk in a straight line so your arm swing becomes more stable and your aim is more accurate. Think of a straight line down the lane and follow it so you can walk relatively straight in a four-step approach.
Walk as straight as possible so that your sliding bowl shoe ends up at the same board of the foul line where it was originally positioned during your approach (also known as set-up position). This is true regardless of where on the approach you’re aligned.
If you drift too far to the left or the right, you should make a conscious effort to correct it. By limiting your drift in either direction to about two boards from your original set-up position, you’re also keeping your arm swing stay on the path toward the target. You should also be mindful of your steps in the sense that these should be measured and controlled, as well as each step should be placed under your center of your body.
Of course, practice is key in perfecting your footwork! You have to practice your bowling skills at Brunswick, premier bowling center, as many times as you can, as well as observe the masters at work there. You will find that like all bowling skills, your footwork will have a significant impact on your overall game.