By Rod Ross on Aug 29, 2019, 12:08:12 PM
If you've been watching the PBA Tour this summer, you know that as of right now, AJ Johnson is leading the USBC Cup points race with just a few events to go. This is no surprise to those of us with Team USA. He's one of the top power players on Tour, especially among one-handers, and his game is fundamentally sound and a great example to follow for a number of reasons.
Let's start with his approach and how straight he keeps his feet in line. Even though he's standing way left and hooking the lane, he's walking in a straight line to the lane. Also, notice his pushaway direction, which is parallel to his footwork. This keeps everything in line as he moves.
Look at one other thing here: the position of his hand. This is fairly unique as AJ rolls his hand to the inside of the ball. When other players do this, it can sometimes cause a liability as it pushes the ball outside their elbows and shoulders, but AJ is able to roll his hand in while keeping the ball inside his shoulder.
As he gets into his backswing, we still see the hand on the inside of the ball, which might cause concern to some, but we need to remember what matters, which is the position of the ball. AJ's ball is right in line with everything else he's doing as he makes his approach. Then, as he drops in, watch everything line up. His hand rolls on top of the ball, he drops the swing and you can see where he creates his launch angle with the rotation of his hips.
His shoulders square up right at the release point and he follows through.
From the front, we can see even more how fundamentally good his game is. Particularly, from this view, look at his elbow and wrist at the foul line. He's loaded everything up, and as he explodes through the shot, his elbow rolls in and his wrist collapses, allowing him to roll through the shot. That's where players like AJ get all their power.
Let's look at the side to see another angle of AJ's loaded position. His body is almost forming a perfect T as he gets into the backswing, and then he explodes through the shot.
One more thing I want to point out is his left arm. It's one of the quietest non-bowling arms at the elite level. His arm just collapses as he releases the ball. No bouncing, flying or anything else. This helps him stay consistent with his launch angles.
He performed well at the recent PABCON Championships and is having an excellent summer on the PBA Tour. He may be closer than ever to his first pro title. If you're looking for a game to emulate or teach, AJ Johnson's fundamentals are something you definitely want to look at.