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Cheat Sheet

Bowling For Dummies

From Bowling For Dummies by A.J. Forrest, Lisa Iannucci

People of all ages can enjoy bowling. By using the right ball and following some pointers about how to throw a perfect straight or hook shot, you can impress your friends and family with your improved bowling skills. Before long, you’ll be bowling like a pro!

How to Find the Perfect House Bowling Ball

Not sure how to choose the right house ball for you from the numerous racks at your local bowling center? Follow these tips, and you’ll find a suitable bowling ball in no time:

  • Stick to the 10-percent guideline. A bowling ball should weigh 10 percent of your body weight (up to 16 pounds), which means you really shouldn’t be grabbing, say, an 8-pound ball if you weigh 150 pounds. You want some weight to the ball, but it shouldn’t be so heavy that it’s uncomfortable.

    If you’ve had arm surgery or you have a physical condition that makes hefting around a ball that’s 10 percent of your body weight a bit awkward, go ahead and use a slightly lighter ball. Remember that the goal is to feel comfortable with what you’re throwing.

  • Make sure the finger holes fit just right. The finger holes shouldn’t be too small or too big. If they don’t fit just right, that can throw off your entire game.

  • Don’t stretch your hand. You should have enough room between your hand and the ball to fit a pencil beneath your palm. If it lightly touches both your palm and the ball, then you know that you’re not overstretching your hand or gripping the ball too tightly.

Pointers for Buying Your Own Bowling Ball

After you know for sure that you want to pursue bowling as a hobby, it’s time to consider purchasing a ball of your very own. Because you have so many options when it comes to choosing a bowling ball, keep these pointers in mind:

  • Bowling balls with a plastic coverstock are perfect for beginners, straight bowlers, and tight budgets. They don’t hook much, or even at all, and the average cost is less than $100 — a great, affordable investment for your first bowling ball.

  • Bowling balls with urethane coverstock are perfect for hook shots. They don’t absorb oil, and they provide more friction than a plastic ball, hence the powerful hook.

  • Bowling balls with a reactive resin coverstock are considered an investment. They’re expensive, but they’re also perfect if you’re serious about throwing a mean hook shot because the resin digs into the oil on the lane, providing a greater opportunity for hitting the pocket.

Throwing the Perfect Shot at the Bowling Alley

Throwing the perfect shot can lead to a higher bowling score; throwing lots of perfect shots can lead to a perfect game — a score of 300. To achieve a perfect hook shot:

  1. Straighten the wrist of your bowling hand.

    Your bowling hand, not surprisingly, is the one that’s holding the ball. Be careful not to bend or flex your wrist.

  2. Hold your hand straight while you swing the ball out and back.

  3. Begin to rotate the wrist, hand, and fingers on your bowling arm toward the opposite side of your body as the ball comes forward.

    If you’re left-handed, rotate your wrist toward the right. If you’re right-handed, rotate your wrist toward the left.

  4. Let go of the ball near your ankle and finish with your hand in the handshake position after you release the ball.

    You know your hand is in the handshake position when your thumb is pointing up and your palm is facing the inside of the lane.

To throw the perfect straight shot:

  1. Keep your bowling hand directly underneath the ball and your wrist straight.

    The main difference between a straight shot and a hook shot is that you keep your hand straight all the way through the backswing and the release of the ball.

  2. Swing your bowling arm out and back.

  3. As the ball comes forward, release it onto the lane when it reaches your ankle, keeping your hand straight and palm up the entire time.

A Ten-Point Bowling Checklist

You bowl your best when everything from your stance to your follow-through is spot on, so pay attention to these ten bowling basics every time you throw:

  • Equipment: A great bowling ball is the start of a great game, so find one that’s the right weight and feels comfortable, whether it’s a house ball or your own ball. Add in comfortable bowling shoes, and you’re ready to hit the lanes.

  • Starting spot: Make sure you’re throwing the first ball of every frame (called your strike shot) from the same starting position. Consistency helps increase your chances of throwing strikes.

  • Timing: Each step of your foot should match up with a specific part of your arm swing and release. Get the timing right, and you’re off to a great start.

  • Hand and wrist position: Keep your hand and wrist strong through your entire shot. If you throw a hook, turn your hand and wrist as the ball comes forward from your backswing until you release the ball with your hand in the handshake position. If throw a straight ball, make sure to keep your hand and wrist straight through your release.

  • Approach: Put all the components — timing, hand-and-wrist positioning, steps, speed, and power — together for a clean approach. If your approach is off, your throw may be as well.

  • Follow-through: Finish your shot by throwing the ball down the lane as it passes your ankles. Then bring your arm up to at least shoulder height to complete the shot. Keep your hand either in the handshake position or palm up, depending on how you throw the ball.

  • Ball speed: The ideal bowling ball speed is 16 miles per hour, but the right speed for you is whatever it takes to knock down all the pins.

  • Target on the lane: Keep your eyes on the prize, or the target in this case. The marks on the lane are there to help guide your ball right into the pocket, so aim for them.

  • Breakpoint: If your hook shot doesn’t cut back at the right spot to go into the pocket, a strike is out of the question.

  • Pin action: Bowling is all about angles, strength, and speed. Find the right combination of all three, and you get perfect pin action and the strike you’ve worked so hard for.

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