"The Bowling Book"
If you are beginning to bowl and want to improve your game, the one-step approach is the best way
to learn how to properly finish your shot. This is a very important piece of the puzzle. Once you
master the one-step approach, your scores will improve.
Don't do this! If you try to do all of this at once without taking it one step at a time, you
will probably hurt yourself or someone else.
Here is the general idea of the one-step approach:
That's a lot to do all at once, so let's take it one step at a time. First of all, put
your ball down. You will need to practice this without the bowling ball at least a couple of
times before you proceed so that you have an idea of what you are doing before you put a weight on
your bowling arm.
- Stand with your feet together about 3 feet from the foul line
- Swing the ball behind you
- When it begins its forward motion, slide with your slide foot (the one opposite the ball)
- Slide your other foot behind you as you release the ball onto the lane.
One-Step Approach: The Step
This is the key to your bowling shot. Although it may not seem like it now, it will ultimately be
the most vital step in your shot and release. Let's begin with your feet. Line up with your
feet together and knees comfortably bent about 3 feet from the foul line. Don't worry about
lining up a shot yet, just put the center of your left shoe at the middle board of the lane (or
any other board for that matter). Put your elbow beside your belly at a 90 degree angle with your
hand palm up. Next, straighten your elbow by moving your hand toward the lane (this is called the
"push-out"). Now, let your arm drop (as if the bowling ball was there) in a pendulum
motion keeping your elbow straight and wait for it to get behind you. When your arm begins to
swing forward, slide the foot opposite the hand where your ball would be towards the foul line
and lean forward. As you slide, slide the other foot (your non-slide foot) on the toe behind your
slide foot. Complete the arm swing and focus down the lane at the arrows. Your slide foot should
end up close to the foul line without going over it.
When I say to line up with your feet together, I mean exactly that. The heels should be even and
the sides should be touching, but not overlapping.
As you practice this, try to have your slide foot end up pointing at the same board every time. It
doesn't have to be straight ahead of you. A lot of good bowlers have "drift" (mine is
about 7 boards from where I start my 5 step approach), but for the one-step approach it should be
a minimal drift, but it needs to be consistently the same (ideally you will have no drift).
Do this several times, until you are very comfortable doing it before you pick up your ball!
One-Step Approach: The Ball
Now we are going to go on to the ball. It is very important that you are comfortable doing the
one-step approach without your ball before you pick it up. I am going to explain the basic ball
movement here, for a straight bowler.
I feel it is very important that you have your own bowling ball. Also, for beginner bowlers, the
best ball is a plastic ball. You don't need something that is going to move all over the lane
on you when you are learning to bowl. That said, if you only bowl periodically or can't afford
a bowling ball at this time; you can use a house ball (provided by the bowling alley).
If you need to use a house ball, be sure to find one that you are comfortable with (weight, span,
hole sizes). The majority of house balls are hard plastic, so you can use the information in this
section with a house ball; however, I recommend that you get a ball drilled for you as soon as you
can if you are going to bowl regularly.
When you pick up your ball, always put your fingers in first and roll your thumb into the ball.
Always use 3 fingers; your thumb, and the two between your index and pinky. Some bowlers think it
is cool to use a two finger grip (no thumb), but my experience is that even the best of these
bowlers have trouble controlling the roll of the ball down the lane. I don't even recommend
trying this style as it is very hard on the wrist as well.
Since you are using a "conventional" grip, you will put your fingers in to the second
knuckle and then roll your thumb into the thumb hole. You should have a comfortable grip on the
ball and you don't want to have to squeeze it to hold it. If you have to squeeze the ball, you
are more likely to drop it during the swing. This can be very dangerous for the others around you
as well as the bowling alley.
When you swing the ball, there is a lot of force going with the ball and at the back of your swing,
there will be pulling for the ball to let go. You need to be sure to be under control of your ball.
So, the first step here is to just take your ball and swing it by your side a couple of times and
make sure that it doesn't feel like it is going to fall off of your hand. Also be sure that it
is not so snug that you can't get it off of your hand!
Be sure to swing the ball back and forth several times to be sure that you are in control of it.
All right, we're almost ready to throw the ball. There is one more thing that you need to
learn: The Release. I just had you make sure that you wouldn't drop the ball, so how do you
One-Step Approach: The Release
Don't do this, just read. The release is something that you will have to work on when you are
doing your one-step approach. The information here is to explain how you will let the ball go when
you do the one-step approach.
Do not try to swing and release the ball from a standing position.
Put your fingers in your ball (as described above). When you start your pendulum motion, you will
need to put your hand under your ball and allow the ball to fall naturally. When the ball reaches
the spot that it is going to get to behind you (don't force it, just let gravity and physics
take over), let it come back forward. At the lowest point, you want to release the ball.
Always keep your hand underneath (and behind) the ball (see above). At the lowest point of your
forward swing, let your thumb fall out of the ball and continue your swing, allowing the ball to
fall off of your fingers. Don’t stop. Continue to "follow through" the shot. Your hand
should end up above your head when you complete your shot and your eyes should be on the arrows.
One-Step Approach: Put It Together!
Once you are sure that you can swing the ball in a controlled fashion and understand how to
release it, you are ready to put it all together and, finally, throw the ball down the lane! Pick
up your ball and put your fingers in it. Some people like to put their fingers in their ball on
the ball return; be very careful if you do this, people have broken fingers that way (another
ball comes out of the ball return and hits your ball).
Set up about 3 feet from the foul line, knees slightly bent, elbow beside your belly, hand palm up
with the ball in it. It helps if you use your other hand to hold the ball in place. Here we go!
Congratulations! You just threw your first "correct" bowling shot with the one-step
approach. The one-step approach is a great way to learn how to finish your shot. You should
continue to do the one-step approach until you are very comfortable with it.
- Push out…
- Let it swing by your side (don’t force it), it should swing like a pendulum…
As soon as it gets to the height of the backswing, begin to slide with the foot opposite
the hand that the ball is in
On the downswing, when the ball is at its lowest point, let it roll off of your thumb and
hen your fingers…
- Finish the follow through…
Once you are very comfortable with the one-step approach, you can move on to more advanced
techniques. The next step here is to see my article 4 Step
vs 5 Step Approach, and utilize the information there to continue to work on your bowling
style. Once you have completed that article, you can move on to
Improve Your Score With Style, and from there progress on to some of the
intermediate and advanced articles listed on the articles page.
Remember: Practice, Practice, and Practice some more….
If you are in a league, or bowl regularly you probably don't want to do this approach during
your league. The other bowlers will more than likely ask you what you are trying to do and give
you a hard time. The one-step approach is more of a learning approach that you do during your