Article Contents

  • 1. Ball speed
    • 1.1. Slower feet
    • 1.2. Lower armswings
    • 1.3. What about both?
  • 2. Seniors are crankers
    • 2.1. Lane play evolution
    • 2.2. Equipment choices
    • 2.3. What about urethane?
  • 3. Lane play choices
  • 4. Release issues
    • 4.1. Reducing axis rotation
    • 4.2. Increasing forward roll – option #1
    • 4.3. Increasing forward roll – option #2
  • 5. Final thoughts

Over the years, I’ve primarily coached two kinds of bowlers: competitive and elite bowlers looking to break into the national/international level and senior bowlers looking to prolong their enjoyment of the game. This article will focus on the latter.

As we age, we often lose mobility and strength. While a fitness program and healthy habits can prolong our competitiveness and delay this decline, we eventually have to face the reality that our bodies can’t do what they used to. Even in my early 40s, I’m feeling it myself, and I know that I’ll need to adapt as I age if I want to continue bowling for another couple of decades.

Before we get started, I want to be clear: I’m not a doctor, nor do I have training in any kind of medical field. Chronic pain and other issues should be addressed by those with the relevant expertise. That being said, I’ve helped plenty of bowlers get a bit more out of their game. Aside from limitations due to joint paint, the main two issues that older bowlers face are loss of ball speed and excessive axis rotation.

The goal of this article will not be to magically produce 20 mph ball speeds in senior bowlers. Rather, the goal is to discuss ways to increase speed by 10 to 15 percent and to use equipment or other means to adapt to the game you have as you age.

We can’t turn back the clock, but we can adapt to the reality we’re in.

Ball speed

As we know, ball speed results from the combination of the momentum that we generate with our feet and the energy we get from the armswing. Roughly speaking, our foot speed contributes about one-third of the speed and the armswing the other two-thirds.

As we age, we can face a few different issues that can impact these elements, primarily knee and hip pain that can affect the foot speed, and shoulder issues that affect the armswing. Depending on your physical condition, you can compensate for one by adjusting the other.

Slower feet

If your footwork is slowing down because of lower body issues, you may be able to increase the height or tempo of your swing to generate more speed.

One bowler I worked with found it much easier to simply use a bigger pushaway and gain more height in the backswing in order to generate the speed he was missing. This was an older bowler who’d always gotten by with a style similar to Marshall Holman: a lower backswing and very ...

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Tyrel Rose

About Tyrel Rose

Tyrel Rose is Bowling This Month's Director of Content. He is also currently the Head Coach for Team Canada, with over 20 years of experience coaching bowlers of all levels. Tyrel is an NCCP Competition Development level and USBC Bronze Certified coach, and a former Canadian national champion.