Bowling School


Lecture #1 :  In the Sport & Business for 50 years
Lecture #2 :  Bowling Balls & Grips
Lecture #3 :  Guide to better bowling
Lecture #4 :  Bowling Pins
Lecture #5 :  Bowling Lanes
Lecture #6 :  The Mental Game
Lecture #7 :  Bowling Accessories
Lecture #8 :  Playing the Lanes
Lecture #9 :  Summation of all the lectures

Lesson Fees

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Lecture #1 :-  In the Sport & Business for 50 years

This Internet Bowling School Program comes from a program that I have been teaching at Latham Bowl for the last 10 years with three 8 week semesters (Fall/Winter/Summer). The program is open to every level of bowlers also to juniors, men & women. It consists of a lecture & question and answer period each week be-fore 3 games of bowling where I work through the group offering suggestions in technique & use of equipment to help improve their game. This program consists of the 8 lectures given each week before each class. School sizes vary from 8 to 24 students. The cost to the bowler is a $12 registration fee & $12 each week which includes gifts, a contest & sit down party on the final 8th week. Other than the school, I also do One on One lessons at a cost of $30 per hour throughout the year when the lanes & I are available.

Week 1 consists of orientation. A presentation of the entire program and the students filling out information sheets. I do take care to explain that I am here to help in any way I can and that their progress is dependent on their ability to apply what I teach and to practice until they start improving.

Lecture #2 :-  Bowling Balls & Grips

This is a subject that could require a book to explain but I will attempt to break down the vast amount of information on bowling balls to provide a general view of equipment from 1950's to present.

History: Bowling balls in the early 1900's were made of wood, cork & a crude form of rubber.
Rubber balls in the 1940's & 1950's were developed & improved by the Ace Hard Rubber Co., Brunswick, AMF & Raybestos Manhattan of Passiac, NJ. These companies developed Plastic bowling balls that were offered in weights from 6# to 16# in a variety of colors, which of course attracted Ladies & Jr. bowlers. In 1980's Urethane balls were developed & marketed by AMF called the Angle. It hooked about 6-7 boards more than any Rubber or Plastic balls on the market. Scores rose and the race was on to produce higher performance balls in which were approved by the ABC. Urethane balls were followed by Reactive Resin balls & currently Particle balls with a variety of cores & special cover stocks that now allow balls to hook 20 to 30 boards & hit the pins with little or no deflection. These high powered balls along with the blocking of the lane surface have greatly contributed about 80% of the increase in scoring to a point where in 1955 there were some 1,500 perfect games compared to 2002 there were 34,000 perfect games.

Ball Specs: There are 2 types of balances in a bowling ball. 1 is Static Balance, in which ABC allows Top Weight after drilling not to exceed 3 ounces. Side Weight cannot exceed 1oz. and the difference between the Thumb & Fingers to be 1oz. The Gross Weight can be 6 to 16 pounds. The Diameter is 8.555 inches & the Circumference is 27 inches. 2 is Dynamic Balance. Dynamic balance is created by a core in the middle of the ball which includes its density, shape & position. I can only refer to the control of such balances from the ABC rule book. Static balances do not effect the movement of balls nearly as much as Dynamic balance does. The layout of Grips can be moved around the ball surface to create a certain ball reactions. ABC has a minimum surface hardness of 72 on the Sur-D Durometer scale at a room temperature of 70 degrees.

Grips: There are 3 basic types of Grips.
#1 is the Conventional grip where the fingers are placed in the holes to the second joint.
#2 is the Semi finger tip grip where the fingers are placed in the holes 1/2 way between the first & second joint.
#3 is the Finger Tip grip where the fingers are placed in the holes to the first joint only.
This grip gives a bowler the most lift & hook and used by most high average bowlers.
ABC allows up to 11 holes drilled in a ball. 5 holes for fingers & thumb plus 5 vent holes for each of the 5 holes and 1 balance hole to meet static weight requirements. Finger Inserts are allowed in the fingers & a variety of Thumb Slugs for thumbs. Some higher average bowlers bring anywhere from 1 Plastic ball for spares to 3 or 4 Reactive balls for different lane conditions. Many bowlers play various lane conditions with balls that have different reactions rather than changing ball speeds or moving on the approach like many good bowlers did back in the old days.

In closing I'd like to say that you may be able to take advantage of the new technology to improve your game but one must be careful not to get more ball reaction than they can handle given the speed they throw & the ability they have to bowl.

Always make sure in shopping for a new ball that you go to a Pro or a Technician who can advise what the best weight is good for you & what the reaction would be best for you when &where you bowl.

The first bowling balls were made of wood and they were not round and had no hole in them. This was in the 1800's. At the turn of the century, balls were made of cork and very hard rubber Usually two holes were drilled, one for the thumb and one for the finger. Men did most of the bowling in the early 1900's and there were usually two or four lanes built in or next to an open bar with a few billiard tables. In the 1930's, a combination of hard rubber and bake-o-lite was used and balls were being manufactured In various weights and pale colors. The 1950's saw the end of pinboys and the introduction of automatic pinsetters. bowling was moving in only one direction, up. Bowling balls were being manufactured In weights from 6-16 Ibs. They were being made of hard rubber and colored plastics. American Mark, Brunswick and Columbia made most of the first plastics. In the 50's most of the men rolled hard rubber bowling balls. Balls started being drilled with two finger holes and one thumb. In 1955 a star bowler by the name of Connie Swolger had a ball and only put his fingers Info the first Joint, thus the finger tip was born Raybestos Manhattan of Passic, New Jersey was the first to make balls with different rubber shell hardness. The soft shell was Hook Control A, their medium was a B, and the hardest or least hooking was the C. The A.B.C. developed standards for balls concerning weight, the balances, and size. The top weight was limited to 3oz. After drilling they were allowed l oz. difference in the sides and l oz. between the finger and thumb side of the ball. The pro tour was started in 1957 and balls were being drilled to affect different reactions. In those days, you could walk into a jewelry store and buy what was then called popular grips, a ball that was already drilled and came close to your fingers.

In 1971, a Pro Bowler by the name of Don McCune soaked his plastic ball in a solution called M.E.K. The chemicals softened the outer shell and made the ball hook more. Don won three titles that year and led the Pro Tour. The secret got out and all the Pros started to soak their bowling balls hoping to score better and gain an edge. The A.B.C. made a rule that a ball must not be softer than 72 measured with a Shur-D-Durometer. The P.B.A. followed with a 76. Columbia marketed a soft shell ball called the Shore-D and all the manufacturers followed with their own version. In 1981 A.M.F. came out with the first urethane bowling ball called the Angle. It had surface contact with the lane and it hooked more and hit the pocket harder with less deflection. Again all the manufacturers produced new ones In different colors, hardness and porosity.

Bowling ball technology was flying. In 1986 an error was made producing some urethane bowling balls and a reactive resin was used and the balls went to the market place. These balls had teeth and hooked and rolled more than the urethanes. Balls were being drilled with leverage and axis weights and the manufacturers started marketing balls that continued into the 90's that sounded like a Rocket Scientist talking. They used every color, every pattern, and every design in their-new high priced bowling balls. The new balls out performed A.B.C. Specs and in some cases made higher average bowlers weaker bowlers. The high powered balls and their drilling certainly caused the out of line high scoring we see today. I have proposed amendments to the A.B.C. to modify their balls to catch up to the technology that has passed them by in the past few years. I close this article in warning bowlers that they must not become too dependant on the reaction of a bowling ball. You may get a false impression of your own game and ability. There is so much duplication and confusion about balls today, not to mention their high cost that I expect the whole craze to collapse under their own weight. How this will all play out, only time will tell.

Lecture #3 :-  Guide to better bowling

The Approach: It has been said that the most important part of bowling takes place in the start of your approach to the foul line. Everyone is different in their age, gender, size, physical & mental ability. There are some who do not have an approach but most walk from 8 to 16 ft to the foul line and most take 3-4-5 steps while swinging the ball along their side as they make an approach. Four steps is very common and it is started with the right foot and ends on the left foot for right-handers, the opposite for left-handers. The trick is to move the ball as you walk so you are in good time with the ball as you arrive at the foul line which is referred to as good timing. This allows you to roll the ball where you want to with consistent ball speed & direction. It is something everyone works on thru their entire bowling career whether you are a Beginner or a Pro. A 3-step approach starts with the left-foot and ends with the left-foot (right-handed). Many who use 5 steps use a short step with the left-foot (right-handed) & then proceeds with a regular 4-step approach. Coordination of ball movement with the arm swing is critical in achieving a good approach.

Many bowlers roll a straight ball or no hook at all. They do this by keeping their hand or thumb at 12 o'clock position all thru the swing to the follow-thru. Bowlers (right-handed) who hook & roll the ball keep their thumb at 12 o'clock but at the point of release they turn their hand from 12 o'clock to 9 o'clock & lift creating spin & hook. Lefty's do the opposite, they are at 12 o'clock & they turn to 3 o'clock at release to get the hook & roll as they swing through the shot to the follow through. Some bowlers walk straight others drift right or left this is OK as long as it is consistent & it is allowed for. Good bowlers share straight arm swings, others have arm swings that vary because of their physical condition. The length of approach best suited for you can be determined by going to the foul line & taking the number of steps you use with a slide, where you stop, turn around face the foul line & that should be your starting position. If you hold the ball center in front of you, your swing should be out from your body. If you hold the ball to the right and keep your elbow in and use it as a hinge then your swing should be in line. Everything you do must be correct & practiced so your body & mind can develop what they call muscle memory. This is achieved by bowling a few games many times on different conditions & different lanes.

Always develop your own style, never try to copy anyone else. Your style is for you & the way you are.

Concerning Etiquette on the lanes, try to allow at least 1 or 2 lanes right & left before bowling so as not to throw off other bowlers. Do your thinking at the ball-return before you get up on the approach. Then when you get there make a good address with your feet & body and go.

10 Tips for Better Bowling

1) Pick the right ball. The most common mistake bowlers make is using a ball that's either too heavy or too light. Pick the heaviest ball you can control for three or more games. Remember: throwing the ball hard isn't nearly as important as being accurate.

The many new advances in ball design and coverstock materials can make a dramatic difference in how you bowl. Consult your local pro shop to help you find the ball that best suits your bowling style.

2) Use the grip that works best for you. The two most popular grips differ by how far your fingers fit into the ball.

Conventional - Recommended for beginning and recreational bowlers; this grip is the easiest to control.

Full-finger Tip- Recommended for experienced bowlers only; generates maximum power and hook but is hardest to control.

3) Master the four-step approach.

STANCE — Find starting position by taking 4 1/2 steps away from the foul line. Stand erect, keep left foot slightly forward and knees bent, support the ball with both hands.

FIRST STEP — The push-away is the first and most important step. Push the ball forward and slightly down in one easy motion and start your right foot moving at the same time.

SECOND STEP — Once the ball is into the swing, keep your arm close to your body and move your left foot forward. Your left arm swings away to a natural balancing position.

THIRD STEP — As you move into the third step, the ball reaches the height of the backswing, no higher than shoulder level.

FOURTH STEP — As you slide with your left foot, your right arm comes forward in one simultaneous motion. Correct timing is obtained when your sliding foot and right arm reach the foul line at the same time.

RELEASE — The ball is released as it passes your left foot and your arm starts its upward arc. At the point of release your wrist should be straight with your fingers under and slightly right of the center of the ball. Your thumb will then come out of the ball automatically and your fingers will carry the ball across the foul line.

FOLLOW-THROUGH — Once the ball has been released your arm should follow through toward your target.

4) A straight arm swing is the key to accuracy. The push-away should be toward your target, then let your arm swing back and forth like a pendulum. Keep your shoulders square.

5) Find your strike line. Pick a target on the lane, near the second arrow from the right side, and aim at it. Keep your eyes on the target until the center of the ball goes past it. Adjust starting position until you enter the strike pocket (between the first and third pins). Move to the right if your ball is to the right of the pocket, move left if it goes left of the pocket.

6) Don't forget the spares. Making spares can make all the difference in your game. Generally, shoot your spares from the opposite side of the approach— from the left if the remaining pins are to the right of the headpin, and from the right if the remaining pins are to the left.

7) Understand how lane oil affects your game. Oil is used to protect the lane surface. It can also dramatically affect how much your ball hooks. The more oil on the lane, the more your ball will skid and the less it will hook. With less oil, your ball will roll more and, therefore, have more hook potential.

8) Learn how to hook the ball. Making the ball hook greatly increases strike potential. Hook is created by a combination of lift and side turn. Lift is created by releasing the thumb from the ball as it approaches your slide foot on the downswing and with your fingers carrying the ball across the foul line. Side turn is created by rotating the wrist and hand counterclockwise (clockwise for left-handers) around the side of the ball at the point of release.

9) Bowl your own style. For all the good advice you get, just remember there is no absolute right way to bowl. Learn the fundamentals, but also let what comes naturally help determine your style.

10) Practice, practice, practice. You'll only improve through practice. When practicing, work on feel rather than score. Notice how each shot feels and try to reproduce the good ones as often as possible.

Lecture #4 :-  Bowling Pins

Let me start with the fact that whether you roll a 6# ball or a 16# ball you generally have to knock down 10 pins weighing about 3 Ibs. 6 oz. each, which is 36 Ibs. of pins 60 ft. from the foul-line. Bowlers who roll 16 Ib. balls have an advantage over anyone rolling lighter balls because they deflect less when they hit the pins.

The bowling pins of the 40's & 50's were made of wood and ranged anywhere from 3 Ibs to 4 Ibs. In those days with rubber balls a 190 to 200 was a winning average. In the late 60's the wooden pins were covered with a nylon sleeve at the base and dipped in a white plastic coating before they were decorated with a company's markings & logos. In the 70's ABC mandated that all pins weigh at least 3 Ib 6 oz each. The coated lasted longer, cost more and were better looking. I believe that the pins of today move 15% faster off the pin decks. Exact measurements can be obtained in your ABC Rule Book or going to  The Brunswick Corp., AMF & the Vulcan Corp. produce 85% of all pins manufactured in the U.S. A set often pins cost about $75 per set & last for about 10,000 games. Most pin spotters have 22 pins in each machine. The variation allowed by ABC within a set of 10 pins plus or minus is 2 oz. in synthetics & 4 oz. in wood or plastic coated pins. A bowling pin is 15 in. high & 5 in. thick at the widest part of the belly. The center of gravity is approximately 6 in. and most pins can lean 11 to 12 degrees before falling over. The pin bottom has an imbedded nylon ring to keep it from rounding to much. All pins are manufactured from maple and are cut from laminated maple blocks. They all have voids in the center which is used to meet the desired weight & to balance the pin for uniformity. In the late 1960's & early 70's a magnesium alloy pin was produced and approved by ABC by a company from Buffalo, NY but was not generally accepted by the Bowling Proprietors. In the year 2001 still another pin fully synthetic was approved, manufactured & marketed by a company in Germany. The pin was used by the ABC in their National Tournament in Reno, NV & from all first reports was accepted by the bowlers. The scores were high and some records were broken so it would seem that that type of pin will be the pin of the future.

Lecture # 5 :-  Bowling Lanes

Bowling lanes were made of wood up to 1976 when a product developed by GE called BL23 was approved for ABC sanction play. It was a series of sheets that were glued to an existing sanded wood lane and had a Formica look and durability. Pictures of the board markings, dots & arrows are in the surface.

A bowling lane playing surface is 42" wide and 60 feet long. The channels or gutters are 9" wide and the pin-decks are 42" x 60". Most approaches are 15 to 16 feet long with a 3/4" black fiber imbedded at the end of the slide area. The pin-deck has Maple side kick-backs with a 3/16" fiber plate to support the pin-spotters and keep the pins in the playing area. Most wooden lanes are 2 3/4" thick and are built on their side and then laid down, sanded and finished for bowling. In the early 1940's lanes were completely made of Maple using 39 boards 1 1/16" wide. In the 30's & 40's lanes were constructed with 16 to 20 foot maple heads (where the balls landed on the lane) and the rest some 40 feet were made of Pine, where the ball could roll & hook as it traveled down the lane toward the pins. ABC specifications are that the tilt of the lane from side to side must not exceed 40,000 of an inch plus or minus. The arrows are approximately 15 to 20 feet out from the foul line. The dots are 7 feet from the foul line.
There are dots on the approach that are in line with the arrows and are in 2 rows. One at 12 feet and the other at 15 feet. Bowling lanes are now marketed and manufactured with 100% synthetic materials.

Wooden lane surfaces held the oil and were more consistent over a period of games. Synthetic's look better and do not require resurfacing or recoating which is something I did for 30 years. The lane dressing on the synthetics tends to move more right & left and down the lane as bowling continues. This causes the shot to change and one must move on the approach or change speed to score. Many nowadays change balls that will not over react as the condition changes. With certain Houses blocking lane surfaces, i.e. heavy oil in the center & dry surface on the outside boards along with high-powered balls rolled at 18 to 22 mph create the 220 & 230 averages of today. Strength, endurance & accuracy are the big factors in high scoring.

Lecture #6 :-  The Mental Game

If you have a good approach, a decent arm swing and get to the foul-line with decent timing, you can average 200 plus on most conditions with the correct equipment. Taking all of the above into consideration you may join the Professional Bowlers Tour and go after the big money and the Walter Rays'. Probably you'll be surprised to find out like most rookies what you have is only about 15% of the game that it takes to bowl, win & exist on the Tour. The other 85% is mental ability and it takes a smart, disciplined & hard working person to learn the mental game. If they ever do! Those that do may go on to earn a living and even win big. In tournaments, depending what degree they succeed in developing the correct mental attitude & mental game. Those that do not may cash in once in a while and make some of their expenses but unless they are sponsored they pack-up and go home. The mental game on the Tour in some cases, is using the correct equipment for the condition they are bowling on. The ability to shake off bad shots, games and even tournaments and correctly analyze what was wrong, work on the problems so as not to repeat such mistakes. What is very important is the ability to bowl a good game or make great shots in high pressured situations where it can mean picking up a check, making the show or just winning a game or a match in the head to head competition. Pros are not out there to party and have a good time, they are there to bowl the best they can and beat the best in the world.

Now for the Amateurs, the once a week bowler. First; you must have the correct fit, the correct ball and a good basic approach. Like the Pro's you must take instructions and be a good observer of other bowlers who bowl well to adjust your game to do better. House conditions generally are consistent week to week with some variations from time to time. It is important to realize that you too, vary depending on when you bowl, how you feel and the ability to bowl well on certain pairs that may be tricky or you. Bowling 3 games a week in your league will not cut it. You must always find the time to have 1 practice session each week to experiment and work on certain parts of game. If you have a health problem you must consider using a lighter weight ball and adjust your style so you can bowl even though may have to give up some scoring but keep bowling.

Well the above are just a few of the mental aspects of the game for Pros & Amateurs, hope they may be of some help.

Lecture #7 Bowling Accessories

There are hundreds of accessory items bowlers can buy and for the most part they all have a use and a purpose, depending on the purpose & need of the bowler. In my store I have a full wall of wrist supports, gloves and accessories. To mention the primary one's we will start with the bowling gloves; gloves that fit over the hand do two things; one, they get the hand away from the ball, the other is they are tacified for better grip which may help you impart more spin on the ball. Our best selling accessory is the wrist supports and they come in a variety of styles. They help bowlers with weak wrists and can help to hook a ball and lessen fatigue. Many Pros use them. I personally use a product called Pro Release which is the most expensive but I had surgery on my wrist and without it I could not bowl at all. Every bowler high & low average uses tape because your hand will vary in size depending on what you do, the weather and your age. When I drill a ball I always drill the thumbhole a size or two larger to allow for 2 to 3 pieces of tape. When my thumb expands, out comes the tape, when it shrinks in goes the tape so I can always make the thumb feel good. Towels are good to keep your hands dean & dry. If you use one to wipe off the ball then you need two towels. Make sure they are different colors so you do not wipe your hands with the one you use on your ball.

Grip bags are good to keep your hands dry and there are some with rosin in them that can give you a better grip. Ball cleaners have been developed, marketed and to clean your ball if it is Plastic. There are cleaners to cleaner Reactives and Particle balls. You may buy a cleaner that will help your ball hook or that may make it slide further. Cloth ball buffers are great for polishing your ball or carrying them to your lanes.

Finger inserts are used for the most part by finger-tip grips to get a better grip & more lift. Thumb inserts are very good to gain a consistent feel when you use multiple balls and they get you're thumb away from the materials that the ball is made of.

Lecture #8 Playing the Lanes

Everyone has a comfort or a starting position on the approach. This is a point where you roll a few balls and see how it reacts. From those few balls one must decide whether the lanes are dry or oily and if they are, it may be necessary to start moving left for a right hander to keep the ball from reacting to soon. If your ball fails to hook and you miss the head pin on the right then it may be necessary to start moving to the right to get the ball in the 1-3 pocket for the right-handers of course. There are some bowlers who can change balls or even change speed to gain the desired reaction. It takes years to be able to read a lane or its condition with a shot or two. The second arrow from the right side is on the 10th board and is considered to be the track arrow. If a bowler moves to the right of that arrow then the shot is being played outside. If a right-handed bowler moves to the left of the 2nd arrow then the shot is being said to be inside. The more you move from your comfort-zone usually have a lower percentage of succeeding. Some Pros move forward and back on the approach to obtain the desired reaction. With synthetic surfaces the shot is going to vary more than it ever did on wood lanes, so moving right or left may not be enough, so many pull out another ball and try to gain the desired reaction they are trying to achieve.

Lecture #9 :-  Summation of all the lectures

In the 6 lectures I have written about; Equipment, Lanes, Accessories, the Mental Game, Bowling Pins and Instruction. I hope for those who read the lectures have gained a better insight on the game and that perhaps may have used some of the information to improve their game.

A few closing points I'd like to make are as follows: I'd like to see most people who bowl enjoy the game and be happy when they strike, make a difficult spare or have a good series or night. After all if your not enjoying the game why bother! Always remember you are all in certain groups, Pros, Good Local Bowlers, Juniors and Seniors and yes even Recreational Bowlers. So set goals that are realistic and within your average level. A bowler who rolls a 225 average can be just as happy with a 270 game as a Senior who averages 120 and rolls a 170 game. Always remember your score depends on your ability and that the equipment and the conditions you bowl on can dictate the outcome of your scores. A 200 game can have value on the Sport Shot just like a 200 game on an easy house conditions where when someone opens the door and you got a double or a triple. Do not hesitate to take Lessons and remember you need to practice to be really good. Practice often because your body always changes and you must get used to different conditions even if they exist in your own home bowling center. Younger bowlers start with 6 Ibs and work their way up to 16 Ibs and finger-tip grips. As we get older we must think about dropping in ball weight so we can continue to bowl without having problems with a ball that's too heavy. I personally use a 12 Ib Plastic ball for my 10 pin spares and anywhere from 13 to 15 lbs for my A- balls and at 69 I still manage to average between 190 & 200. So in closing thank you for reading my lecture I certainly hope you enjoyed them.

I will close now and hope you enjoy the lessons.

May the Bowling Gods be with you!
Good luck and good bowling.
Call or e-mail me anytime
Bob Daubney

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