Article Contents

  • 1. First step and pushaway
  • 2. Time-out: the moment between your first and second steps
  • 3. Second step and downswing
  • 4. Third step and backswing
  • 5. Fourth step (the slide) and forward swing
  • 6. Closing thoughts

Let’s go back in time. You’re in high school, and your teacher has dropped a pop quiz on you. This test is a tough one, so you must choose your answer carefully.

Which of the follow statements is most correct?

  1. Bowling is an incredibly simple game, quite easy for anyone to master.
  2. Bowling is an incredibly complex sport and it will never be mastered by anyone.
  3. Both of the above.

Yes! You are correct. The answer is c, both of the above.

As we’re reminded in countless television commercials, movies and magazine ads, one of the great things about bowling is that anyone can bowl. Whether the bowlers are tots, teens, parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents, it doesn’t take much skill to get a ball moving down a lane. And, sooner or later, thanks to the miracle of bumper bowling, pins are going to fall.

Then there are the rest of us. Most long-time bowlers have achieved a certain level of skill—that place where others think we’re pretty good. But we know we’ll never master the sport. We know that no matter how good we are—or maybe, how good others think we are—we’ll never knock down enough pins. True bowling fanatics—that’s you and me—are constantly trying new stuff: new releases, new targeting methods, new wrist gizmos, new sliding soles…the list goes on.

But here’s the thing: sometimes, in the haze and maze of try-this-try-that, of LASER adjustments and online video tutorials, of the latest-and-absolutely-greatest new ball on the market, we lose sight of the fact that all sports are grounded in certain fundamentals. And to lose sight of the fundamentals is to see your game slip away. So, on that cheerful note, let’s talk about what I call The Rule of Fours.

If you read my articles on a regular basis, you’ll remember The Rule of Fours. It’s simple: the fundamental, textbook bowling style consists of four carefully executed steps that are coordinated with four carefully executed upper-body movements.

But, but…some people don’t take four steps, you say. You’re right. Most of the better bowlers—pros included—take five steps, which begs the question: why am I talking about a four-step approach when it isn’t used that much?

Truth be told, you’re free to take as many steps as you like. You can take five steps, you can take ten steps, you can start your approach out in the parking lot if it suits you…it doesn’t matter. Those extra steps are timing ...

Phil Regan

About Phil Regan

Phil Regan, a USBC-certified Silver coach, has been teaching bowling since 1964. Retired from corporate life, he operates a pro shop in northern California and competes on the PBA50 and PBA Regional tours. Phil can be found online at www.philreganbowlinglessons.com.