How to Explain the Three-Step Approach & Ball Release in Bowling

by Carlos Mano
The key to good bowling is a consistent approach and release.

The key to good bowling is a consistent approach and release.

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The best place to explain the three-step approach and ball release is at a bowling alley. Both are kinetic activities, as opposed to intellectual activities. The natural way to explain it is by showing, and the best way to learn is by doing. You can say that you should hold the ball chest high on the first step, swing it back on the second step and bring the ball forward to release on the third step, but demonstrating one time makes it all one move. Doing it one time starts the process of loading it into muscle memory.

Items you will need

  • Bowling alley
  • Bowling ball
Step 1

Find your starting position by standing with your heels 6 inches from the foul line, facing away from the pins. Go through the three-step approach. Where your left foot ends up is the position your left foot should be in when you start your approach. You should adjust to the left or right so you are centered on the lane and pins.

Step 2

Face the pins with your shoulders square. Make sure nobody is bowling or starting on either adjacent lane and nobody is standing near your path. Look over the ball, and imagine the ball going where you want it to go--between the first two pins on the right. Take the first step with your left foot while at the same time lowering the ball with your right hand.

Step 3

Step forward with your right foot while swinging the ball backward. Start putting your weight behind the ball during this second step. Think of the ball as a pendulum swinging back.

Step 4

Bring the ball forward during the third step. The ideal spot to strike the pins is between the two front pins on the right side. Ideally, the ball should curve into these two pins. To make this happen, keep your thumb facing forward -- 12 0'clock -- during the swing and turn it into your body -- 9 o'clock at the point when the ball is released. To make the "hook" successful, the steps, release speed and timing of the turn to 9 o'clock must be consistent.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some bowlers do not aim at the pins so much as they do at the "spots" -- the arrowhead shaped marks on the lane a few feet over the foul line. The spots are much nearer, and the exact trajectory that results in a strike will always go over the same place in these spots.
  • All instructions are given for right handed bowlers. Everything is reversed for left handed bowlers. For example, steps are right-left-right and release turn is to 3 o'clock instead of 9 o'clock.

Photo Credits

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