Tips for a Better Game


Choose a bowling ball which is not too heavy for you to hold comfortably in one hand. Your thumb and first two fingers should fit securely, but not tightly, inside the holes. Most bowling alleys have a range of options from eight pounds to sixteen pounds. Because bowling depends more on control than sheer force, a heavier ball is not always a better ball.

  • Most people find that taking a set number of brisk paces (either four or five) across the approach area helps them develop powerful momentum and establish a rhythm which makes releasing the ball more fluid. Plan your starting point, the number of steps you want to take, and your stopping point before you pick up the bowling ball.
  • Take a minute before the game to step off the area so that you know where to stand and what a comfortable size of steps will be for you.
  • Integrate your pacing and swinging into one non-stop motion so that the motion of your whole body is behind the ball.
  • Swinging the ball backwards and then forwards as you release it helps send the ball in a true line. One common approach: Start by putting your thumb and first two fingers into the holes on the ball. Hold the ball up in front of your chest. As you stride forward, let the ball and your arm fall so that it swings in a smooth, natural arc to your side. When it reaches the back of the arc, you should be halfway through your steps. Use the accumulated momentum to swing the ball forward. Release the ball on your last step, just before you reach the foul line and as the ball swings in front of you.
  • Don’t tense up when you’re swinging or releasing the ball. A smooth, relaxed approach works best.
  • New bowlers often aim straight down the center of the lane to the center pin. Aiming just to the left or right can be slightly more effective. More experienced bowlers will “hook” the ball, by making it spin slightly. This is usually done by letting go with the thumb a fraction of a second before the other fingers. Depending on how much curve you create, you may need to start one or two feet closer to the side of the lane, so that the ball doesn’t curve across the entire lane and into the gutter.
  • The approach area usually has lines and arrows to help you aim. Most right-handed bowlers stand somewhat to the right of the center marks. Most left-handed bowlers stand to the left.
  • The foul line separates the sixty-foot-long bowling lane from the approach. Do not step on or cross the foul line. If your foot touches or crosses the foul line when you are bowling, then you get no points. Staying behind the foul line also protects the carefully leveled bowling lane from accidental damage, as well as keeping you safe. Lanes are typically oiled, which makes them very slick.
  • The bowling ball needs to stay in the lane and not roll into the gutters on each side. Most bowling alleys can block off the gutters on request to make the game more fun for children or new bowlers.

A child may not be able to manage even a light bowling ball with a normal swing. It’s perfectly fine to use a modified approach when necessary. Place the ball on the floor, safely behind the foul line. Stand over the ball, with one leg on each side. Then reach down with both hands and use the flat, open hands to roll the ball down the lane. This is sometimes called a “Granny swing” or a “football swing” (because of its similarities to hiking an American football). Be sure that your child never steps in front of the foul line, because the lane oil will make shoes slick and dangerous.