By Stephen Padilla on Jul 13, 2019, 1:00:31 PM
Over the next several episodes, we're going to talk about the physical game of bowling, and I want to start with the same place you start on the approach: the stance.
The stance is where you get everything lined up and positioned where you want it before you begin approaching the lane, so it's a very important part of your game. The better situated you are before you begin moving, the easier it is to keep your body in line all the way through the release, allowing you to better repeat shots.
As we go through the specific elements of the stance, keep in mind there are exceptions to certain elements. It's bowling-there are always exceptions. What I want to talk about is, in general, the elements of the stance that work most often for the most successful players.
Let's start with the posture. Most of the time, you want your posture to be slightly forward. Your upper body will be just a little over your hips or footwork, giving you an athletic position that helps you get moving toward your shot.
Next, you'll want to see your feet, knees and hips pointed in the same direction. Look at how Liz Johnson sets up in her stance. Her feet are pointed to her right, her knees are pointed to her right and her hips are pointed to her right. Because everything is pointed in the same direction, she's able to stay on line through her approach and repeat shots much better than if her feet were pointed to the right and her hips to the left, leaving her knees somewhere in the middle.
When it comes to your shoulders, you want them to be aligned in the same direction as your target. Generally, this means you keep your shoulders pointed in the same direction as your feet, knees and hips. When it comes to your shoulder alignment in relation to the floor, most players don't want to be parallel. As we can see with Danielle McEwan, her bowling shoulder is slightly lower than her left shoulder due to the weight of the ball. By adapting to the weight in the stance, it helps to start clearing the lower body out of the way before you even get started.
When we look at Erin McCarthy, we see what most players consider an ideal ball position. It's not directly under her chin and it's not directly in line with her shoulder-it's right in between. This is a good place for the ball because it allows Erin to move her body around the ball, keeping it in line throughout the swing, again leading to better repeatability in her shots.
In general, we like to see the vertical placement of the ball at or just above the waist line. Doing this keeps the ball close to the core, which makes the weight of the ball less stressful on the body and makes it easier to start the approach.
Now let's look at Daria Pajak's hand position. Her bowling hand is pretty much right underneath the ball, which is what we like to see. Directly related to this is the elbow position, which you want to be in line with the hand and pointed in the same direction as everything else we've talked about (feet, knees, hips, shoulders).
What about the opposite arm? When holding the ball, most players put the opposite arm underneath the ball as well to help support balance. If you look at Daria again, she does this very well.
For two-handed players, this is normally very different, often putting the opposite arm in front of the ball or even on top of it. Essentially, it helps act like a thumb to stabilize the ball throughout the approach.
Finally, let's talk about pre-set angles. This is where we take everything we've lined up-feet, knees, hips, shoulders, hand, elbow-and make sure we're aligned for our target path. Whether you're targeting the arrows, dots or range finders, your ability to repeat increases dramatically when you pre-set your angles toward your target.
I realize this is a lot of information, but it's a good set of guidelines as you work on your stance. Bowling is one of the most unique sports in that there are so many different styles on the lanes, but no matter what your stance looks like, if you consider each of these areas, you may be able to smooth out your game and improve your repeatability before you even take that first step.