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Bowling Stances: Approach, Release, and Other Tips Explained

A south asian man in jeans and button shirt is has his slide foot, slightly ahead of his right foot.

Does the concept of bowling stances confuse you? If so, there you’re like many beginners who haven’t yet solidified the basics. But don’t worry – in this article; we explore the topic of bowling stances in detail so you can learn everything you need to know.

Let’s get right into it!

Bowling Stances: What Exactly Are They?

A bowling stance is what you see when you watch any bowling game, and the bowler gets their ball, strikes (no pun intended) an unusual pose near the ball return before they make their approach to the foul line. That “pose” is their stance or “address,” and it is quite an essential part of the game.

The bowler with the blue and white checkered shirt is practicing his stance to ensure he has good balance.

The Importance of a Bowling Stance

A bowler’s stance sets the tone for the entire shot. It is your foundation, and a proper stance will provide you with the leverage, balance, and power needed to make a successful shot.

An improper stance, on the other hand, will result in a wild and uncontrolled throw that is likely to miss your target.

In addition, your stance is a repetitive action that can be repeated at least twenty times in a game, and ensuring it is correct and comfortable is better for your body. So, it’s worthwhile to spend some time learning the aspects of a proper stance.

4 Tips For a Correct Bowling Stance

Bowling Stance and Approach

When you’re getting ready to bowl, there are two key things you need to keep in mind – your stance and your approach. In case you didn’t know, these elements go hand in hand.

There are a few options bowlers currently use to approach the foul line:

  • The Four-Step Delivery: This is arguably the most common delivery method today’s bowlers use. To find your starting point, begin at the foul line, standing with your back towards the bowling pins with the center dot a couple of inches behind your feet. Take 4 ½ steps away from the foul line before turning to face the pins. This is where you’ll begin your stance.
  • The Five-Step Delivery: If you want to use the five-step delivery, you simply follow the same steps as the four-step delivery. The only difference is that you’ll take 1 additional step from the foul line before turning. This means you will take a total of 5 ½ steps away from the foul line.
  • The Two-Handed Approach: This approach is similar to the previous delivery methods. Of course, the exception is how the ball must be held in both hands. You’ll insert your fingers inside the ball with or without your thumb, and place your other hand on top of the ball.

It might seem silly to plan for the step you take after you are positioned in your stance, but there are no wasted steps in bowling. Each movement and decision you make in bowling will affect the outcome of your shot.

Week 3: Approach & Steps Drill

How to Hold the Ball During Your Stance

Where you hold your ball also makes a difference in your shot. Here are some of the common ways people hold their ball during their stance:

  1. The Face: hold the ball in your dominant bowling hand, in front of your face, while ensuring you can safely see where you will move.
  2. The Shot Gun: hold the ball close to or even with your waist.
  3. The Third Stance: hold the ball low with the arm fully extended.

Make sure that whatever stance you take, you are comfortable. If you’re stressed and tense, it will show in your shot.

The woman bowler with the blue ball is conscience of her foot placement as she approaches the line.

11 Bowling Stance Tips You Need to Know

There’s no perfect bowling stance that works for every bowler. The key is to find a stance that works well for you and makes you feel comfortable.

With that said, here are a few tips to help you fine-tune your stance:

  • Decide on the approach you want to use and move to where you’ll need to be to complete that approach. It’s okay to pace to where you’ll have your stance every time you bowl, especially if you don’t play at the same alley all the time. You’ll eventually get a feel for where to start.
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart for a proper stance. This will help you maintain balance. For right-handed bowlers, your left foot can be slightly in front of your right foot and in reverse if you are a left-handed bowler.
  • Test your knees and bend them until you find a comfortable position. If you’re the most comfortable with your knees straight, try to avoid locking them to prevent injury as you begin your approach.
  • Position your bowling shoulder an inch or two lower than the other while pushing it back about an inch behind your other shoulder. This accommodates the extra weight of the bowling ball while preparing your shoulder to be able to swing the ball as smoothly as possible.
  • Pay attention to every move you make. If you find your stance position uncomfortable or awkward, alter it and try a different variation.
  • If you work out to improve your game, make sure that you work on your core. A strong, stable core is important for a proper and explosive bowling delivery. It can also help prevent injuries to other body parts, like your lower back and hips.
  • Make sure that you have a good grip on the ball. Even if you’re standing in your stance, you want to be in complete control of your ball.
  • Remember to breathe. Yes, even in your stance. Taking deep breaths helps you relax and focus on your shot and breathe through your arm swing as it swings in a straight line.
  • Record your bowling shots. This will help you track your progress and identify any areas that need improvement. You can use a regular video camera or even your smartphone to do this.
  • Practice your stance and delivery at home. Even if you don’t have a bowling ball or alley, you can still practice your form. Just make sure that you have enough space to move around without harming yourself or anyone else.
  • When you’re ready to hit the lanes, make sure that you warm up first. This will help prevent injuries and get your muscles loose and ready to bowl. Stretch out your back, arms, and legs. You can also do some light cardio to get your blood flowing.

These are a lot of tips to remember, but remember that they are only tips. You might not be able to follow all of them, and that’s okay. Just focus on the ones that work best for you and then build upon that.

The woman bowler with the yellow shirt and pink ball, left knee is bent slightly as she releases the ball.

Consistency Is Key

When you know what’s working, go with it and be consistent. If you change your stance for every shot, you’ll never get a feel for what works best for you. The more consistent you are with your shots, the better your game will be.

When to Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re having trouble finding a stance that works, or you’re just not sure what you’re doing, ask a friend or family member for help. You can also ask your local bowling alley for tips or lessons.

Many alleys offer helpful programs for beginners.

If you’re new to bowling and just learning about the importance of your stance, it might seem like a lot of effort to put into something that isn’t as cut-and-dry as you’d like it to be.

But if you want to become a better bowler, avoid injuries, and improve your score, perfecting your own stance is a great way to get started.

The lady and man in front of the ball return are left handed bowlers.

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Keep in mind that if something doesn’t feel right, causes discomfort, or contributes to a bad throw, you don’t have to keep it up. Instead, try something different, or adjust your position by an inch or two.

You know your body better than anyone else, so trust your instincts. We hope these tips have been helpful to you, and we wish you the best as you perfect your stance and overall game.