Bowling Tips: Follow Your Swing SlotBowling Tips | Rich Wallace | January 12, 2011 at 8:51 AM
When new bowlers first enter into the game, the common thought behind how to knock down so many pins with a bowling ball that isn’t quite as wide as the lane itself, is to throw the ball as hard as possible. This may hold true for a wrecking ball, but there is quite a bit more science involved in the sport of bowling. Although power can definitely play a huge role in how well you convert strikes; accuracy and ball placement is much more important. Coupled with the natural plan of motion of your swing path, it’s easier to train your accuracy than it is to tear your arm out of your socket.
Finding your natural swing path can improve your game in many different areas including aiming, power, timing, flow and your overall approach. Again, the initial mindset may persuade you to force the ball down the lane as fast as humanly possibly relying on brute strength. However, this clears the path for any true attempt at accuracy and widens your margin of error when learning your proper style.
What is a “Swing Slot”?
First off, let’s start out with what a Swing Slot isn’t in order to give you an idea of what to look for. Many bowlers, especially the newer generations, tend to let their body conduct how the ball makes its way from the backswing to delivery. After all, those pesky hips and legs do get in the way too many times, so in order to avoid bouncing the bowling ball off of an ankle, they arc the ball away from their hips and take the ball off of a natural swing pattern. If you’ve ever aimed for the headpin and the ball ends up going at an angle, you may be able to thank yourself for moving away from your proper swing slot.
The slot that I refer to is literally that…an imaginary slot that you allow the bowling ball to fall into while letting the swing momentum take its course. Typically, we’d rather dictate the bowling ball and bully it’s swing path in order to tell the ball to move away from the side of our body rather than letting the ball have the right of way and us moving our hips and legs. This mental struggle unwittingly causes the muscles of the shoulder to pull our arm out enough to keep the bowling ball out of a proper slot that is necessary to aim the ball with the desired accuracy.
Essentially, your stance should begin with the bowling ball already in the position that is inline with the point of release onto the lane, well before you begin your push away and swing. Many bowlers start out with close to picture perfect posture and hold their bowling ball right in front of their chin or chest. Now, first off, I’m not going to tell you that it’s wrong to do so, but I will tell you that this type of setup may interfere with placing the bowling ball into the swing slot correctly.
Our goal is to allow the ball to have control over where the swing plane takes the ball. Picture your entire swing as a pendulum on a Grandfather Clock, where your shoulder acts as the pivot and the ball is the weight that guides your plane. Rely on the highpoint of your backswing to being the momentum of the pendulum and simply allow gravity to do its job. Your shoulder and forearm muscles are simply there for the ride, but they are not to be running navigation.
How to Find Your Swing Slot
When preparing for your shot, one of the most critical steps to watch for is focusing your alignment of the bowling ball even before you being your swing, By aligning your ball with the desired board on the lane that you wish to make first contact with, you can ensure that your entire swing path is on plane and accurate. Keeping the bowling ball “locked in” to that path and not forcing the ball to arc around your hips or legs, is your correct swing slot.
As illustrated in the image above, the ideal swing slot is maintained with a dropped elbow during the delivery, as to encourage the upper half of your body to keep the path of the bowling ball away from the hips. At the time of forward motion while coming out of the backswing, your bowling ball will have traveled a slotted course and the point of release will include the bowling ball ending up aligned with your targeting eye and under your chin.
Any arc in the swing pattern will knock the ball out of your swing slot and potentially cause the bowling ball to end up rolling left or right of your intended path. I still see several professional bowlers include such an arc, but they have also learned how to incorporate the misalignment into their swing and compensate in other areas. If you’re a beginner, do your best to focus on developing your proper swing slot early, as just with any other habit that can hinder your game, it’s hard to correct down the line.
What Say You?
How have you developed your own swing slot, or have you yet? Do you notice an arc in your swing in order to avoid the hip smash and if so, how do you compensate for the indirect path? What else can you offer other bowlers in developing an effective swing?