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
Lecture #2 :- Bowling Balls &
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
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.
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
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
www.bowl.com. 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
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
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
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
Lecture #9 :- Summation of all
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