Here is a new section for all you social bowlers out there that play maybe once a week for fun or with your families from time to time. In this section we will run a series of articles to explain aspects of the sport from how to score to selecting your own bowling ball. In time this will become a useful resource for anyone wanting to take up bowling as a hobby or sport.
There’s really no need to be nervous
First off bowling is a pretty easy sport to pick up so there’s really no need to be nervous. Having selected your bowling centre and paid for your game(s) you will be given a pair of shoes that are essential for bowling. Some bowling centres are now allowing customers to wear their own shoes as the first section of the bowling lane which is called the approach have been carpeted although most in the UK and beyond are wood or a plastic/laminated material.
The carpet approach idea is not one we would recommend as it could be dangerous due to the fact when you are in motion and heading up the approach the slide area as it is called enables you to slow down before you reach what is called the foul line. The foul line is a black strip at the start of the bowling lane and if you step over it a buzzer should sound and your score will be given as an ‘F’ for foul and a zero recorded.
Another reason for not going past the foul line is the fact the bowling lanes have a specially designed film of oil on them which is there to protect the surface from the friction caused by a bowling ball rolling on the lane. This makes the surface very slippery and you will almost certainly slip and fall over and could hurt yourself. So the first main point of bowling is stay safe and dont go beyond the foul line.
One of the most important things is finding a ball that fits your hand and is the right weight. Your thumb should not be either too tight or too loose, just snug. Be sure to use your middle two fingers rather than your middle finger and your pointer finger. This will allow you to hold the ball better. Don’t select a ball that feels too heavy for you.
Although eventually there is a correct way to walk up the lane and let go of the ball it is best at first to not confuse yourself with the techniques of bowling rather just do what feels natural. If in doubt, watch others first and copy them. Walk don’t run up the approach, swing the ball and let go. Ideally you want to be walking four or five steps to the foul line and while walking you start to swing the ball. The idea is if a right hander to start and doing five steps start walking with your left foot first so that after five steps you end up on your left foot for the final step, This enables you to have a better balance at the foul line and stops you from hitting your right leg as you release the ball. If you are a left hander just start on your right leg.
When your actually bowling, the best spot for your ball to hit is in the pocket (if you are right handed this will be the 1 and 3 pin basically just to the right of the center of the lane if your left handed its 1 and 2 pin or left of the center of the lane).
Most beginners try to stand in the middle of the approach (wood/plastic section before the actual lane and gutters), but actually you should stand off to the side a little bit. If you stand in the middle your chances of getting a split (two or more pins spread across the lane that are difficult to get since they are not close together) increases tremendously as you don’t want to hit the headpin (the pin in the very center) head on. If you are right handed, move right. If you are left handed, move left. The dots on the floor of the approach can be used for reference points.
When your actually bowling, be relaxed, it helps a lot. You don’t want to throw or roll the ball as hard as you can. In bowling, very little muscle is actually needed, gravity is every bowlers friend. Just focus on rolling the ball rather than throwing it. When you take your arm back to get ready to roll the ball, keep it straight. Also keep your arm straight when you release so your ball doesn’t end up in the gutter.
There’s a lot more that can go along with bowling, but most of all just try to have fun with it. Bowling is an amazing sport that can be played at practically any age or ability and is also lots of fun.