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A complete Guide to Bowling


Ownership is not absolutely necessary. Essential accessories are available at any lanes. But in time you may want your own shoes, ball and bag. All of them are reasonably priced

One of the wonderful things about this sport of ours is that the participant is not required to go out and purchase a lot of costly, ornate equipment.

Bowling shoes can be rented at most lanes, but many people hesitate to wear a pair of shoes that someone else has worn. If you feel that way, you should purchase your own. Owning a pair of bowling shoes will also give you a bit more confidence. And they aren’t expensive.

There are many brands of bowling shoes on the market. You’re better off, however, with a good name brand. You can purchase either the high- or low-cut type. Most of the better bowlers today buy low-cut shoes.

There isn’t much use of taking the beginning bowler farther than this right now, but it should be pointed out briefly that after you go into league play you’ll probably wind up wearing a bowling shirt or blouse and trousers or skirt. You’ll be comfortable in them, and should bowl better.

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You Start With Stance

There are three basic types of stance, l† is important that you standardize your own and let comfort be the factor that determines it

Because it is the first step in bowling, the stance is one of the most important phases of the bowling game. It’s the point of origin and should be standardized.

You should have a very definite way to place your feet every time you go up to bowl. The ball should always be held in the same place in respect to your body.

Above all, both of these factors should be maintained so that you are the most comfortable. If you’re comfortable, you’re not even going to notice the weight of the ball. You’re off on the “right foot” because you have already learned one thing—re-Weber: I’m an average bowler in stance, bending at waist, ball waist high, left foot slightly forward.

Laxation. Certainly, the first few times you try to bowl, even if your stance is comfortable, you’re going to be nervous; you’re trying something new. But if you are comfortable up there, that nervousness won’t stay with you very long.

Presuming you are a four-step bowler, go to the foul line, turn around so that your heels are about four or five inches away from the line and then take four normal steps away from the lane. Then take an extra half-step for good measure to allow for your slide.

Wherever you are at this point, turn around and face the lane. Look down at your feet. Where they are is your point of origin and it won’t vary no matter when or where you bowl. Your distance from the foul line should thus be determined, whether you are shooting for strikes or spares.

However, in this day and age, because of new and fancy ball returns, change in surroundings from one house to another, etc., it is suggested that you always pace off this distance from the foul line before taking your stance.

If you are a three-step bowler, pace off three and one half steps. If you use five steps, pace off five and one half, etc. Now you are in the proper position to take your stance.

If you are right-handed, make sure your left foot is a few inches ahead of your right foot. It will make for more comfort. Also as a beginner, have your left foot either in line with the center of the lane or slightly to the right of center. Your shoulders should be parallel to the foul line. Now you’re ready to consider what stance you should use.

Basically, there are only three types of stance. In one, the ball is held in front of the face, leaving just enough room for the eyes so you can see where you’re going. A second stance has the ball held so that its base is about even with the bowler’s waist. A third stance has the ball held low and at arm’s length.

So far as the position of the body is concerned, comfort is the whole thing. Some bowlers find it more comfortable to stand up straight; others bend over slightly and still others lean way over.

Each has its advantages, but a slight bend at the waist is favored by most top bowlers. Most beginners are inclined to stand erect. There’s nothing really wrong with this, but don’t hold yourself to it. Try the other styles and determine which is most comfortable and produces the highest pinfall.

During the past several years, another style has come into being and it has several variations. A few of our leading bowlers hold the ball well over on the right side (being right-handed, of course), claiming that this allows them to go into their swing with greater ease.

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Pushaway And Delivery

Pushaway comes on †he first step and must be a smooth motion for the sake of balance

Dick Weber: I take live full steps, none long. But. teaching. I stress the four-step approach.

It’s taken for granted now that you have paced off the number of steps from the foul line that you deem sufficient and have taken your stance. Rock back and forth a few times to make sure you’re comfortable. You should be holding the ball at a point where its weight is least noticeable.

For all practical purposes, there are three main ways of making your delivery or approach to the foul line. Actually, we consider delivery and approach as the same thing.

The three main categories are bowlers who use three steps, those who use four and those who use five. There are also bowlers who take one or two steps, some who might even take six or seven. However, in most cases steps over five usually are a shuffle or very short steps.

In the taking of three steps, bowlers usually make them long ones with an unusually long slide.

On the other hand, the five-step bowlers take very short steps. They’re more of a picture bowler in their approach with almost complete accent on smoothness. Not that your five-step bowlers aren’t capable of high scores; some of our top performers take either five or four and one half steps. But even the five-step professionals are the first to admit that for all practical purposes, the four-step delivery carries the most advantages, especially to a beginner.

In the last chapter when members of the panel discussed stance, it was pointed out that the reason Marge, Pat, Dick, Bill and Ed used a certain stance was because it helped them with their pushaway.

Linking each of the deliveries with the pushaway, it should be pointed out that your pushaway—the point of no return— comes with the very first step.
Some five-or-more steppers who shuffle on their first step, however, don’t start their pushaway until their second step and do nothing on the shuffle except “take off.” What is said of the pushaway, consequently, would embrace their second step.

Considering the others, however, the ball is pushed in slow motion away from your body on the first step, down and slightly to the right. This should definitely not be a jerky movement. If you make it jerkily, you will find that the weight of the ball will throw you off balance as your arm reaches its full length at the start of your pendulum backswing.

You can easily understand that if there is coordination in your pushaway so the ball goes into the pendulum swing smoothly, you’ll hardly feel its weight and won’t be tossed off balance.

While you’ve been taking that first step, your left hand (everything works just the opposite for southpaws) has been helping to guide the ball. When in your stance, the weight of the ball was absorbed by the left hand, taking all weight off your right hand and fingers. But now that you’re on the way to the foul line, the weight is shifted from the left hand to the right. Once your pushaway has been completed your left hand leaves the ball entirely. In other words, there is a gradual shift from one hand to the other.

Actually, the left hand becomes mere hindrance to backswing once the back-swing has started. But the left hand and arm serve to provide proper balance as you continue your delivery. There is no set pattern as to where you hold your left arm.

Remember, your pushaway and first steps are “the best of friends” and they happen at the same time. The pushaway should not go out any further than your first step either.

Three-Step Delivery

Opposed by our panel of experts, the style is employed by some women and powerful men and warrants consideration

Probably because three comes before four, the three-step delivery will be the subject before your panel of champions now. We can honestly think of no other reason.

No real controversy surrounds this type of delivery; it’s just that the style is suited to only a few.

You’ll find that quite a few women bowlers take only three steps, and you’ll also find it used to a certain extent by powerful and/or tall men. Here’s what each member of the panel thinks of the three-step delivery, and you’ll notice that they have little to say in its favor.

Four-Step Delivery

Out on one, down on two, back on three, and slide!” That’s it}recommended for beginners, favored by the champions

Taking four steps on your approach gives you smoothness, helps your coordination, gives you sufficient time to master release of the ball and radiates rhythm throughout.

Every member of our panel of champions, most of whom spend a certain amount of time each year touring the country as part of the popular AMF Bowling Clinics, teaches the four-step approach and heartily endorses it for everyone.

With few exceptions, bowlers are readily converted to the four-step method once they realize its potential. Attend one of the Clinics sometime, take in a bowling class where a competent instructor is on hand, and you’ll hear the chant: “Out on one, down on two, back on three and slide!”

Diagramed below is movement of the feet in the tour-step delivery. At left. Ed Lubanski shows smoothness and rhythm of first steps of the method which is continued on next pages.

You’ll find it comfortable, carrying with it a minimum of work and a maximum of pleasure.

Let’s take the first step in the four-step delivery. This is where the pushaway comes in and that’s the part embraced by the cry: “Out on one.” So the first step takes care of the pushaway.

Bear in mind that in the pushaway the ball should be launched forward and slightly to the right in order to make room for your second step and the pendulum swing of your arm. If the ball isn’t pushed out slightly to the right you will be prone to hit your right leg with it during the second step.

While you are taking that second step, the left hand (provided you are right-handed) leaves the ball. This is a split-second proposition and will vary. Some bowlers let their left hand drop away from the ball during the pushaway or a split second before its maximum has been reached. But don’t let the left hand remain on the ball when you’re ready for that second step. That’s an invitation to trouble.

“Back on three, and slide.” When the slide is completed, left foot should be approximately 3 inches from the foul line. Don’t force yourself into long strides; in fact, short strides are usually your best bet.

The ball goes into its pendulum swing on the second step. Never force it. The weight of the ball itself will take care of everything.

Step No. 3 will find the ball going into the full backswing. By now there’s nothing much you can do to remedy any mistakes you may have made already. The “point of no return” actually occurred when you started the pushaway.

Now you go into step No. 4 which is actually the slide and the ball quite easily moves forward, its own weight causing the swing. Once again, it’s important that the ball not be forced.

Make sure you bend forward as you go into the slide, and hold your right foot well back to act as balance and, if necessary, to brake your slide. When your slide has been completed your left foot should be approximately three inches from the foul line.


Going from three steps to four, you should bear in mind that the steps should be about the same as you take in walking.

You shouldn’t force yourself to take long strides; in fact, shorter strides will be to your advantage. You will even find that some lanes don’t give you as much room in which to operate as others and if your approach covers less space all the better for you in the long run.

Another very important factor in your approach regardless of the` number of steps, is for you to keep your right arm close to your side. You should almost feel your elbow rubbing your side.

Five-Step Delivery

The first step of this delivery is usually a shuffle, with other phases much like those of the previously-described four-step method

The five-step delivery probably has the most friends among bowlers who are on the short side and utilize an extra step to give them a bit more rhythm and speed.

Brown shows stance prior to five-step delivery, left foot slightly forward, ball held near waist.

Diagram of five-step delivery. It is demonstrated by AMF’s Joe Brown at right and on next pages.

The author actually doesn’t feel that the speed angle is of particular importance, although it is necessary for a bowler to be able to hold the ball to a line, especially where lanes are a bit on the tough side.

Previously in this book, the three- and four-step deliveries have been explained and you may recall that in each case the pushaway started with the first step. This doesn’t necessarily hold true when you use five steps, although Dick, who takes five steps, starts his pushaway with the first step. This is pointed out because the great majority of so-called five-steppers use no more than a shuffle for their first step. And this shuffle does no more for them than to help them get started and provide a bit more coordination.

If there is a shuffle step, then you can start your pushaway on your second step if you wish; in other words, as you move forward on your right foot. From then on you follow the idea of the four-stepper— out on two, down on three, back on four and slide on five.

However, if you start your pushaway on your first step, then it’s a slightly different story. The ball starts down on two. On the third step, the ball continues its back-swing and reaches its apex on the fourth step. The ball starts its downward move as you take the fifth step and is delivered on the slide.

Remember one very important thing: if you do use five steps, you must keep them short; no long strides or you’ll find yourself going far over the foul line.

Everyone should bear in mind that no step of the delivery should be swift. It’s a walking-tempo deal. If there is too much speed, you’ll find yourself reaching the foul line far ahead of the ball. That would be the end of your coordination or timing. Your right arm should be kept straight, with the elbow as close to the side as possible. And—as with the four-step delivery —the left hand leaves the ball as you reach the apex of your pushaway, thus affording the maximum in balance.

Laying It Down

How far over the foul line? How to release the ball to impart that special hook stuff for the highest pinfall? Here are the answers. They deserve careful study by the serious bowler

Pat Patterson: I try to have my thumb at 11 o’clock and merely make sure of getting it out over the line.

In this chapter, the author and members of the panel are going to take it for granted that you have become a four-step bowler.

If you followed earlier advice, you would already realize the correct way to release the ball for a hook. As pointed out, it’s as easy as shaking hands. And your right hand is carried in the handshake position. The ball is released as the ball starts on the upswing—out in front, please—not behind you.

It’s the release which imparts the stuff to the ball, that spin which causes the ball to hook about two thirds of the way down the lane.

Your middle finger is maintained horizontal to the lane. A split second after your thumb comes out of the ball, you will notice that the weight has been transferred to your middle finger. And as your hand carries on through in the pendulum, it is pulled upward. This upward pull is what does the trick. You do this correctly and your bowling ball will hook.

Always keep that middle finger horizontal. You may wonder why this is continually stressed, but the first time you let your thumb drop down to 7 o’clock—or even to 8:30—you’ll be surprised what doesn’t happen to your ball.

There’s nothing quite so surprising as to fit a ball into the strike pocket and leave the 8-10 split standing because you failed to have that finger horizontal and didn’t get the proper and necessary lift on the ball.

Let your thumb swing to the left and notice what happens to your fingers. They are pointed downward. It stands to reason that they can’t do much lifting from that position. Next, move your thumb to the right. You will note that the palm comes up and your hand suddenly is in position for the straight ball or even a backup. And you want no part of either. Also make sure that your swing not only is uniform but straight from back to front.

Outside of being kept straight, the wrist actually plays a small part in throwing a hook. At times, you will find it necessary to move your wrist to rectify an improper backswing, but the more solidly the wrist is maintained the better.

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Backswing And Follow-Through

The backswing that is higher than shoulder level invites trouble and the follow-through should be completely comfortable and natural. Don’t pose as if awaiting the photographers

The elements of this chapter might well be viewed as the bread—toast, if you prefer—that sandwiches the preceding discussion of ball release.

You simply can’t release the ball until you’ve gone through the backswing, and it doesn’t hurt one little bit to know what you’re doing when it comes to follow-through after you’ve released it.

Image result for bowling follow through imagesLots of times, you’ve probably strolled into your neighborhood lanes to bowl and noticed some guy or gal with a backswing so high you wondered who’d get killed if they lost control of the ball. What if their fingers were wet and slippery?

The danger of bloodshed isn’t the primary reason a high backswing is no good, however. The real reason is that the higher the backswing, the more room you have for making a mistake that costs you control. There has been a trend recently among many of the better bowlers to cut down on their backswing for just that reason—control.

Action Of The Ball

On release, the bowling ball behaves in one of four ways. Consider these actions, the cause and effect of each one

All of a sudden, you find yourself at the foul line with a bowling ball in your hand. What’s going to happen next? One thing is sure. You’re going to let go of the ball and it’s going to go down the lane or drop off into one channel (gutter) or the other. The ball is going to do something, that’s sure, and it’s entirely up to you just what it does. One thing has to happen if you wish to become a good bowler: your ball must be alive and stay alive all the way down the lane—including when it goes into the strike or spare pocket.

Basically, the action you put on the ball will result in one of these four things: it will travel in a straight line, it will hook, it will travel in a curve, or it will back up.

The hook ball, shown at left. is far and away the favorite of skilled bowlers. A spin, counterclockwise, is imparted on release and carries it into strike zone with strong finish for the highest pinfall.

The straight ball, demonstrated at right, is recommended for beginners as it instills confidence and accuracy. It merely rolls over and over in the manner of a wheel and veers neither right nor left.

Those are the four types of ball action— straight, hook, curve and backup. It’s that simple. The majority of our bowlers throw either a straight ball or a hook. If you don’t bowl very much, you may find that your scores are higher using the straight ball. If you do bowl a good bit, you’ll find that the hook ball gets the most strikes by far and thus gives you higher scores.

When a straight ball is thrown, it does nothing but roll, turning over and over on its axis like a wheel and veering neither to the right nor left.

A hook ball carries a spin from right to left which carries it into the pocket and gives the ball a better finish.

This is pretty much true of the curve ball, too, except that the curve goes more slowly and often has nothing left on it by the time it reaches the pocket.

Insofar as the backup ball is concerned, the bowler has put a slight spin on the ball from left to right causing the ball to back away from the pocket.


Straight Ball

Though you will probably abandon i† as your game improves, the spinless straight ball is †he preferred delivery for †he beginner

Ed Lubanski demonstrates release of the straight ball below. Action of ball is diagramed at left. In sighting, aim it fairly high on the head pin.

Although delivery of a straight ball i. carries with it a great deal of weight on the bowler’s wrist, it still is the No. 1 delivery for the beginning bowler.

No doubt a question occurs to you— “Why should I learn how to throw a straight ball when I plan to keep on bowling and finally switch over to a hook ball?”

It’s a good question, but in the last chapter Marge hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that it will bring you better scores quicker and increase your confidence—a very important factor in bowling as well as any other sport.

When you first start to bowl with the straight ball, place your left foot so that it is in line with the middle of the lane, a few inches ahead of your right foot. Draw an imaginary line from your right hand to the No. 1 or head pin.

No spin of any kind is imparted to the ball when it is released. Your hand is carried behind the ball with the fingers beneath it. The ball thus comes off the palm of your hand. Do not turn either the hand or the wrist as you follow through.

It is suggested«that after you have learned how to throw this ball fairly well and are hitting the head pin consistently that you move slightly to the right with your feet so that you’ll have a little more angle. You’ll find that you’ll be getting more strikes and not leaving the No. 5 pin standing so often.

In sighting for the straight ball, aim it fairly high on the head pin.

Hook Ball

Preferred by all top bowlers, it is delivered with a handshake gesture, nets top pinfall

Of one thing there is no doubt: the hook ball is the best delivery in bowling. The finish of the ball’s course guarantees more pinfall, and to throw it is as easy as shaking hands with your best friend.

That’s probably the best description of a hook ball—the “shake-hands” ball. Through practically the entire delivery, the right hand is held just as though you were going to shake hands.

In throwing a hook, there is practically no strain on the wrist—a strain which definitely is noticed while throwing a straight ball. The shift from a straight ball to the hook ball is going to make you feel like you’re riding a cloud. And you will quickly come to realize why all the top bowlers in the country employ the hook.

The hook ball should start on almost a straight line down the lane. When approximately two thirds of the way down the lane, the ball suddenly veers toward the left, breaking into the pins with full intensity.

It is the powerful hook ball which is called a “heavy” ball. Many times you have watched the game’s leading stars on television and in person, watched them bury a pocket hit for a strike. That’s a heavy ball. Many times you’ve watched them carry light hits. It’s still a heavy ball.

How do you hold the ball in order to throw a hook? Well, the proper position of the fingers is on the right side or slightly lower, whereas in throwing the straight ball the fingers are under the ball. In other words, the position of the thumb for a hook ball is between 9 and 11:30 o’clock—probably closer to 11.

Using the three-holed ball as an example, your middle finger will go into the ball on a horizontal plane. In letting go of the ball, your thumb comes out first, leaving the ball resting upon your fingers. In that split second, you bring your hand straight up, causing the ball to spin from left to right as it starts down the lane.

Make sure that your hand continues to go straight up, preferably to eye level.

Lubanski (demonstrating, left): Anyone who has the desire can learn to control the hook and it’s the hook ball that brings you good scores.

Don’t, under any circumstances, roll your wrist to the left. It is most important in throwing the hook that the wrist remain firm. In fact, the stiffer the wrist is kept the better results you’ll have with the hook. It will be a hook—not a curve.

It is very important that every hook-ball bowler do his or her utmost to perfect a uniform delivery which will mean the ball does the same thing every time. This uniformity will enable you to lay the ball down to perfection in converting spares. And, remember, conversion .of two extra spares a game is the key to improving your average 20 pins per game.

Curve Ball

If breaks left, as does the hook, but in a wide sweeping arc, and can fell substantial quantities of timber. But it is difficult to control, not recommended by our experts can occur where there is a lot of speed and a ball doesn’t go anywhere.

The one word “control” is the main reason the curve ball gets short shrift in comparison with the hook. Since control is one of the most important factors in bowling, the author and the members of the panel are agreed that the curve is definitely not on the preferred list.

The hook is the result of proper lift on the ball; the curve is invariably the result of a “slowed turn.”

Of course, the curve also makes its appearance when a bowler rolls his wrist into a shot. In fact most of the time when a ball is overturned and the tempo is on the slow side, a curve results. However, overturn

A properly-thrown curve, as pointed out previously, can knock down a lot of wood, but when shooting for certain spares, such as the No. 10, the curve is just too much and often impossible to control.

You might wonder why the curve couldn’t be thrown on the first ball, followed by a straight ball for spares. That isn’t practicable, because it’s difficult enough to really perfect one delivery, let alone two.

In holding the ball to deliver a curve, it is cupped slightly more than for the hook.

When the ball is released, there is a definite roll of the wrist to the left, causing a wider arc in the path of the ball.

This wide arc means that the ball must be started more from the left and rolled out toward the right side of the lane. This is necessary to give it room in which to move.


So that’s the way to throw a curve.

Backup Ball

Unorthodox, it is also called the reverse hook. An explanation seems warranted, if only to point out its many disadvantages straight down and into the 1-3 pocket.

Nobody is particularly fond of mosquitoes, coral snakes or sharks. But there are such things. Likewise, there is such a thing as a backup ball. Frank Clause of the AMF Staff of Champions prefers to call it a reverse hook.

The author has actually known three or four bowlers who could really handle a reverse hook. One of them boasted an average of 200. He was right-handed and released the ball from the left side of the lane with plenty of speed. The ball actually broke into the 1-2 pocket and was just as devastating a strike-getter as the real hook of more orthodox performers which goes

Bowlers who can handle the backup ball, or reverse hook, are rare indeed. Invariably, the No. 5 pin will be left up. often along with No. 7—a very tough split.

In photo at left, Ed Lubanski demonstrates release of the backup ball. Wrist action at release imparts a clockwise spin causing action indicated in the diagram.

To throw a backup ball, hold it in a manner similar to the way you were instructed for the straight ball, with the fingers underneath and the palm behind. The real difference is that the wrist is rolled slightly to the right as the ball is delivered and the little finger pulls up, imparting a left-to-right spin to the ball.

The ball will start straight down the lane all right, but before reaching the pins will veer suddenly to the right.

If you are about to go into the 1-3 strike pocket, you’ll find that the ball has pulled so far to the right after hitting the head pin that you’ll invariably leave up No. 5, with the No. 7 often staying up also for a really tough split combination.