Getting your head in the game doesn’t only mean in the mental sense – it also means being mindful of your head movements during the approach. Indeed, while your feet, body and arms should move in a synchronized manner, your head should stay as still as possible. But it should also be pointed out that unnecessary head movements is also a symptom of an underlying issue.
Here are the common mistakes that many bowlers make and their possible quick fix. Keep in mind, nonetheless, that maintaining control over your head movements is a matter of mindful practice so the quick fixes are just that – quick fixes that unless otherwise consistently practiced will not be effective in the long run.
Turning the Head
Everybody who has even watched bowlers at Main Event, a popular bowing spot for bowlers of all skill levels, knows another bowler who has a solid approach before the release but suddenly makes a head turn or a head jerk. The turning of the head can either be to the left for a right-handed bowler or to the right for a left-handed bowler.
With a head turn, the bowler seems to be looking at a spot about three to four lanes over the lane he’s on while releasing the ball, an awkward position, to say the least. Tommy Jones has this habit but he does it so subtly that only astute observers will see it, not to mention that he has an uncanny ability to keep his swing on target so the audience misses his head turn movement.
The head turn has many causes but it’s typically the result of pulling the ball from the top of the swing, as well as by applying too much muscle (i.e., muscling) on the ball and by timing its release too late. You can fix it by getting the ball started earlier or bringing the ball down not with your shoulder but with your hand.
Lunging the Head
Even intermediate level bowlers are guilty of lunging their head at the foul line, a move that affects their overall stance and it’s one that you may be guilty of, too, so to speak. Your head and shoulders remain fairly still for most of the approach but you suddenly thrust them forward just before you release the ball. Again, the awkward position doesn’t bode well for your game.
With your body out of its desired position and the ball ready for release in a split-second, your head and upper body will likely shoot forward so as to keep its balance. Your center of gravity changed, after all, and with it your ball delivery becomes more errant than expected.
The common cause for the head lunge is early timing, typically from incorrect footwork. You should then improve on your footwork and keep your core stable so your will move less. You may want to practice in front of a mirror so you can determine when your head makes a lunging movement and then correct it.
Bobbing the Head
Have you seen a chicken bobbing its head while it walks or waddles? That’s how a bowler bobbing its head during the approach looks like and it isn’t a graceful sight to behold, not to mention that the aim isn’t true.
If you tuck your chin followed by bobbing your head, as if you’re tracing a U-shaped object in the air, then you’re likely making high backswings or you’re guilt of steep swing planes. Your head goes up and then down as if it’s making the release along with your arm. This isn’t a good thing as any upward motion along with ball release isn’t such a good thing.
There are two things you can do to correct the head bob. First, you can adjust your footwork so you have a longer slide; just don’t lengthen or shorten your stride too much. Second, you can aim for a shallower swing plane combined with an earlier timing. Don’t forget to maintain a posture, too, from the first to the slide steps to prevent your torso from bobbing.
Let’s also remember that your eyes also play a crucial role in your head position. Your eyes are your primary sense for effective targeting obviously so it makes sense to know when and where to look during the approach.
Beginners usually target the arrows, dots or pins on the lane. But as they progress in the game, they become more focused on the breakthroughs and exit points as well as the dots just before the foul line.
Note: Targeting pins isn’t a recommended method because it doesn’t work, period. Instead, you should pick a point along the ball’s desired path since it’s closer to you and, thus, easier to target.
But it’s still important to practice the art of un-looking. Basically, you should be able to target a single point on a desired path without making it the all-important aspect of the release. You knowing where you want the ball to go has more impact on targeting than hitting a specific spot on the lane.