Science - top tips



The following are adapted from eTeamz '10 Things to Remember' when tenpin bowling (apologies for possible misinterpretation of the advice for ninepin practitioners):
  1. Equipment: Choose balls to fit your hands, enabling a firm grip - until the moment of release. Ensure that they are bias free, i.e. perfectly spherical and made of homogeneous material. Fill pits, polish surfaces and oil lightly at the end of each season. Skim very occasionally to restore their surface finish.
     
  2. Approach: Some skittlling purists believe that a good 2 or 3 step approach is the way to go. Others believe that you should feel comfortable in ANY approach you take. Either way is OK as long as the ball and your feet arrive at the foul line at the same time. Your push-away is also critical to your game because it "sets" up your armswing and ball speed. The next part of the approach that is very important & which most skittlers have trouble with is staying down. When you get to the foul line, stay down with a good knee bend and be stable. This allows you to have more control over the shot. If you jerk-up at the line, you may be moving your head too much and pulling the ball. When you jerk it is impossible to keep your eyes on your target.
     
  3. Armswing: Try to hold the ball just outside your body when you set up. This stops your armswing from going inside/out, around your body. As you start your swing let the weight of the ball dictate the speed of the swing as your arm acts like a pendulum exerting no force of its own.
     
  4. Release: The release is probably the most important part of your game. Remember to always try to keep your palm facing upwards when releasing the ball. Your hand almost always rotates around the ball when your thumb releases. Most skittlers do not understand how to make a ball swerve, it's not by "spinning"....it's by rolling end over end by staying behind the ball. (Note: need to think this one through before encouraging its use in the ninepin game.)
     
  5. Follow-through: The follow-through of your arm after the release is important because it dictates the direction of the ball. Most average skittlers cut their armswing short after releasing. In order to develop good follow-through remember to have your hand end up next to your right ear (for righties) or practice tapping your right shoulder with your hand.
     
  6. Aiming: During practice select a board to aim along when throwing the ball...this is known as your "mark". For a right-handed skittler, if you are hitting your mark but the ball is playing to the right of the target move your feet several boards to the right on the approach. If you are hitting too far left, then move your feet left.
     
  7. Lane Conditions: When encountering an imperfection on the alley, e.g. a sprung board, memorise the location and move to the right or left in order to avoid it. (NB Such imperfections may actually improve scores for the less skilled amongst us.) High heels are another hazard that may need to be overcome. The damage that they do to the alley surface can be serious and the psychological effect on the opposition can go either way - depending on their orientation.
     
  8. Tempo: Be prepared to bowl before you step on the alley. Get ready while the person who bowls ahead of you is in the process of bowling.
     
  9. Mental Preparation: Imagine in your head what is going to happen before you throw the ball (i.e. hitting your target rather than the latest in a succession of humiliating blots or wombles!). Remind yourself of critical tips such as getting your leg over, aiming at your target, pulling right back, staying down at the line and following-through. And always keep your cool and stay under control, despite barracking from your team mates and sadly sometimes also from the opposition.
     
  10. Practice: The only way to be consistent in bowling is through practice. Practice gives us the muscle-memory necessary to throw the ball the same way over and over again (missing by a gnat's breadth). When practicing try not to keep score. Work on those aspects of your game that need addressing. For example, if you are prone to missing a quarter (or front pin in Divisions 1 and 2) then practice targetting them repeatedly.