By Stephen Padilla on Jul 26, 2019, 11:41:53 AM
Last time, we went over the stance and all the things you want to keep in mind as you get ready to roll your shot. Now that we're all in alignment and ready to go, it's time to begin our approach.
When we talk about the start, we're specifically talking about the bowling ball and the feet beginning to move at the same time, getting you out of your stance and into your approach. This is a crucial part of your game because if you can maintain a consistent start from shot to shot, it makes it a lot easier for you to carry that consistency throughout the approach and ultimately lead to better repeatability in your shots.
Movement of the Ball and Feet
Ideally, we'll see the ball and feet start to move at the same time, however it's not uncommon for one (usually the feet) to start just a bit before the other. For example, looking at Birgit Pöppler, who uses a five-step approach, we can see her left foot move first, and then as she moves her right foot, she also gets the ball into motion.
Contrast that with Danielle McEwan's four-step approach, and you see the ball start to move as she makes her first step with her right foot.
It really doesn't matter how many steps you take. What does matter is, at some point, you get the bowling-side foot and the ball moving at the same time. We see that with both Pöppler and McEwan. Generally, you'll get the ball moving to create a four-step approach, even if you take one, two or 10 steps prior.
When you can get the ball and feet moving at the same time, it leads to better timing and consistency in your approach overall.
Initial Ball Movement
How far should you push the ball out in front? Should you drop it straight down? We all know bowling styles are vastly different from bowler to bowler, so there will be a lot of variation here. However, what we want to see more than how far out or down you push the ball is a rounded motion. We won't want to see any corners or straight lines.
Look at Danielle again as she gets the ball moving in a rounded motion. Same with Erin McCarthy. There are no harsh pushes or drops and no straight lines. They get the ball moving in a rounded motion that keeps momentum moving without requiring as much muscle exertion.
We want to keep a consistent tempo as we begin with the feet. That is, we want to see the ball and the feet moving at the same tempo. Again, this is all about timing. If you can get a good start, it's easier to maintain that timing throughout your approach and into the shot.
Look at Liz Johnson. You can clearly see, even from a front view, that she's moving her ball at the same speed as her first step.
One interesting thing to note, since we're often talking about keeping everything going in the same direction, is that the first step doesn't necessarily need to be in the same direction as the arm swing. Sometimes, we refer to this step as a tight rope as one foot goes in front of the other.
Take a look again at Danielle, who puts her first step directly in front of her left foot. She does this to move her body out of the way of her swing shape. Long ago, bowlers generally moved the ball around the body, but now, the best players are moving their bodies out of the way of the ball. Doing so helps players control their acceleration, accuracy and repeatability.
Initiate with the Lower Body
If you can, you want to initiate the start with the lower body. I'm not saying you should start the lower body and then try to catch up with the upper body, but rather you should rely on the large muscles in your legs to control your start and your tempo.
The lower body is our foundation and where we get most of our power and speed, so rely on your legs to get you started.
The start may seem like a small part of a bowling game, and technically it is as it only takes a second or two, but it's vitally important. If you can consistently repeat your starts, you'll find much better consistency with timing throughout the entire approach and your actual shots.