As a professional bowling coach, I give an average of 14 lessons a week, and the most common issue in a player’s game is their footwork.
It’s the foundation upon which everything else depends. I know it sounds simple; you take a few steps and throw the ball, right? Easy as walking, right? Well, yes and no.
By design, we’re symmetrical animals with a left and a right; two eyes, two arms, two legs and two feet. Even our brain has left and right lobes.
Walking and running are constant exercises in adjustments of balance and recovery.
When we play sports, we frequently challenge that equilibrium with something going on to disturb that symmetry and equilibrium.
In the case of bowling, we’re adding weight to one side of our body while walking, and in the end, balancing on one foot.
We need to offset that imbalance, but how? We have a weight in, say, a right hand, and finish on a left leg, but our right side is now considerably heavier than unladen.
We need to get more weight to the opposite side for balance.
At the beginning of our approach at the push away, the opposing arm has to be extended for initial leverage to that side — about 5 to 10 pounds or so, but still not enough.
After the ball has reached the high point of the backswing, it starts the downswing, and we need to clear a path to retain a pendulum swing, so we kick the right leg to our left, behind our sliding foot, just as the ball is about halfway to the release point and we remain in balance.
If everything is choreographed correctly, we can hold that position on one leg, in balance, all the way to the pins. Doing so is called “posting the shot.”
You can watch other players who are out of balance by watching what happens after they release.
When you see a player step to the side they deliver from, it’s called “falling off the shot,” and the ball has pulled them to that side.
The body’s response from that “falling” is to side step and recover.
Get back in balance. Have another player video you and see for yourself. A balanced player is a scoring player, and you’ll see immediate result in your accuracy and consistency.
As always, if you see me on the lanes, feel free to ask me questions or to take a look at what’s going on in your game or drop me a line.
Wilson is a U.S. Bowling Congress Silver Instructor and an International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association ball technician.