arm straight, backswing, bent elbow, bowling, downswing, extending the arm, first step, force the ball, four step approach, fourth step, league, open grade, pendulum swing, pin action, push away, second step, splits, tenpin bowling, third step, tournaments, washout
(originally published a couple of years ago to Bubblews writing site, now gone)
Maybe if you’re having trouble with a smooth pendulum swing in tenpin bowling, you could try this. It seemed to work for me.
I’ve done a bit of bowling over the decades, mainly in open grade. These days, I just bowl one league a week and no tournaments. I’ve been struggling a bit lately. So what I did last Monday was to change my push away.
Instead of holding the ball waist high and pushing the bowl out, I held the ball low down with a straight arm at about the five o’clock position. I then pushed the ball out and up (rather than out and down) to about the four o’clock position, keeping the arm straight. At the same time, I took the first step of my four step approach.
By doing this, the ball was already in its pendulum position, right from the start, instead of at the end of the push away. The rest of my approach was conventional. On the second step, the ball was at the bottom of the downswing, or at six o’clock. On the third step, the ball reached the top of the backswing. For me, this is around eight o’clock or a bit higher. I’ve never had a high backswing (never past nine o’clock). On the fourth step, the ball was beside me.
This seemed to help me. It helped me keep my arm straight and it helped me to not force the ball. I bowled 205, 210, 199 and 207, for 821 over four games, which is good for me these days, and the centre isn’t noted for being an easy house. I think I got three splits (and picked one up) and a washout and opened two other frames. I had the third highest pinfall on the night, in an open grade league.
So I might keep using this pendulum swing right from the very start rather than starting with a conventional push away. Or least I’ll do this for the time being.
It might not work if your approach is quite slow. Mine is on the fast side, and although not very big, I still seem to generate enough ball speed using this method for reasonable pin action with a 15 pound ball.
Update: Recently, I’ve been having problems hanging onto the ball too long. Last Monday, I bent my elbow and brought my arm up as soon as it reached the bottom of the downswing rather than extending the arm right out. It worked: 209, 200, 196 and 245, for 850, which is very good for me these days as I’m in my 60s and have had a few niggling injuries.