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Improve bowling accuracy and rhythm

By Michelle Mullen

At the lanes, timing problems lead to problems at the delivery because timing affects the body’s position at the finish. Inaccuracy can be the result of poor timing.

Missing the target to the left from pulling the ball can be the direct result of late timing. Pulling the down swing to bring the ball back in time at the finish often leads to pulling the ball left of the target. (For a left-handed bowler, it would pull right of the target.) Pulling the ball is the most common reaction to late timing. If this keeps happening, correcting late timing can restore accuracy. Loosen up the swing and push the ball out sooner with the right leg to improve the timing of the back swing. Then it no longer will be necessary to pull the ball in the down swing to catch the ball up to the body. Fixing the late start will allow the arm to relax in the down swing and improve accuracy.

Missing the target, often to the left, also can result from early timing. The body is in too weak a position to project the ball toward the target. Missing the ball left because of poor leverage is different than missing the target to the left from pulling the ball.

Early timing will put the body in a poor position at delivery because the ball arrives at the line ahead of the body, causing excessive waist bend rather than knee bend. The shoulders end up too far forward in a position of weak leverage. This will make it difficult to project the ball toward the target and will cause inaccuracy and a weaker release.

Most bowlers have a tendency of either early or late timing. Your personality may determine in part which tendency you display. If you tend to get the swing started late, you probably like to have excessive control of the ball. If you get the swing started too quickly or early, you’re somewhat out of control. Most of the time, it all goes back to fixing the pushaway and loosening the swing. But mentally, it requires an adjustment too.

A natural adjustment to rhythm goes along with adjusting timing. Do not resist it! It means that you are making a positive change toward better bowling. The swing, not the feet, controls the rhythm. Therefore, rhythm will vary, depending on the timing of the pushaway and the looseness of the arm swing. Bowlers who have the habit of a late start are naturally slower and more methodical to the foul line. When fixing timing, either by pushing the ball sooner or by pushing it out and down rather than up, you will get the ball into the swing sooner. This will be accompanied by a natural adjustment in rhythm. Getting rid of the delay will make things go faster. Loosening up the swing also allows the ball to move faster. Though initially it will feel different, do not resist the change in rhythm.

Relax! The tendency of most bowlers with late timing is to control the ball. Allowing the ball to swing naturally is one of the key adjustments to fixing late timing. Loose muscles will allow the ball to swing and get the feet to go.

Bowlers who are in the habit of starting early are faster to the foul line. Pushing early or pushing down rushes the ball into the swing. This forces the feet to chase the ball.

Many bowlers develop early timing from standing too far back on the approach. Standing too far back will give the body the feeling that it has to take off, taking steps that are bigger than natural to make up the distance to the foul line. This will cause the ball to drop into the swing too quickly and cause you to run up to the line to cover the distance of the approach. Fast feet are a classic symptom of an early start.

Moving up on the approach may be one solution to a fast approach. Fixing early timing either by pushing the ball later or pushing the ball up will delay the ball’s entry into the swing. And, again, relax. Do not help the ball into the back swing in a subconscious attempt to rush the swing to stay in the comfort zone of early timing. Helping the ball back will only rush it into the swing, creating early timing. At first, adjustmenting to get the ball into the swing later, or delaying the swing, will make the feet feel slower. Mentally, stay calm and let the ball do the work.

Again, the swing controls the feet. This is why a change in how the swing moves will lead to a change in rhythm. Better timing will create better rhythm. Suddenly, when you’re correcting late timing, the feet will feel as if they are moving. Correcting early timing will make the feet feel calmer and slower. Changing the start will change the rhythm, but it is a good change. Mentally, adapting to the change in both rhythm and control requires trust. Trust is a must for higher scores. Balance is the goal. Good timing and a loose swing lead to good balance.

This is an excerpt from Bowling Fundamentals.

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