How Far Should You Slide?

Achieving an ideal slide distance

How Far Should You Slide?

For many readers, you will clearly recall PBA and USBC Hall of Famer Marshall Holman starting with his heels off the back of the approach running to the foul line and utilizing a very lengthy slide before releasing the ball. See an example of Marshall Holman’s lengthy slide in this YouTube video: I hope this image of Holman’s Hall of Fame approach will actually facilitate you to ask more in-depth questions about the slide. For example, how long should a slide be or how important is the slide in bowling to efficient energy transfer?

The slide has been serious business in bowling since the Lind Shoe Company placed a buckskin material on the bottom of a shoe at the request of one of the members of the Hamm’s Brewery bowling team more than 75 years ago. Soon after this request in 1936, the entire Hamm’s team wanted the buckskin sole and more slide.

Yet the slide remains one of the least studied domains of performance enhancement in bowling. Specifically, although we now have many slide heel and sole options, slide match up and relative slide distances are manipulated randomly and by feel rather than by a more scientific approach on the player’s end.

“Gradual braking is the key to precision shot making and blending the slide allows the brain to complete the effort without having to protect the body from injury. When the weight of the ball in the downswing becomes disproportionate to the support mechanism, the brain will issue a command for the body to bail out of the shot. This is why players perform poorly on extremely slippery or tacky approaches.

Understanding how to properly set up the shoe to match the approach environment is critical to maximizing pin count over the duration of an event. It would be my goal for every pro shop operator to understand this concept so that they could help their customers to be better players through technology. ”
—Hall of Famer David Ozio
General Manager, Etonic Bowling Worldwide

From my perspective, it is vital to understand the relative slide distances between slide/heel combinations in order to match up quickly and accurately while not wasting practice or competition ...

Joe Slowinski

About Joe Slowinski

Joe Slowinski, a USBC Gold Coach, is a freelance bowling coach who works with bowlers around the globe. He is currently on assignment with the Philippines. Slowinski is the former Director of Bowling at Lincoln Memorial University, where he served as Program Administrator and Head USBC Collegiate Men’s and NCAA Women’s Coach. The Portland, Maine native has served as the Administrative and Men's Head Coach at Webber International University and served for four years as a Master Teaching Professional at the Kegel Training Center. Slowinski is also the former Director of Coaching and Coach Certification for the National Sports Council of Malaysia. He has coached international teams at the World Championships, Pan American Games, South American Games, and European Championships, helping Belgium win a Gold medal at the 2022 EBF Championship of Champions and coaching Brazil to Gold medals at the 2015 Pam American Games and the 2014 South American Games. He was the 2018 NTCA DII/III Coach of the Year and the 2010 NCBCA Men’s College Coach of the Year.