Article Contents

  • 1. Not all approaches are created equal
  • 2. Test the approaches!
  • 3. Be consistent in your starting points
  • 4. Develop a consistent setup
  • 5. Learn about tape
  • 6. Accessories!
  • 7. A final note

Countless self-help articles and books tell us to take life easy, chill out, and—most importantly—don’t sweat the small stuff. But, as we know, the physical act of successfully propelling a bowling ball down a lane consists of nothing but small stuff: hand position, targeting, setup, number of steps to take, step length, how far to project the ball onto the lane…the list really does go on and on.

While work on our physical game is essential, we can’t forget the non-physical details that can make or break us—components of our sport that we sometimes forget or maybe never even knew to begin with.

Most of us are not “naturals.” We work hard for every strike we get. Over the years—as both a bowler and as a coach—I’ve learned the value of The Small Stuff, the little tricks and suggestions that can help boost scores, if only a pin here and a pin there. Here are some of them.

Not all approaches are created equal

Let’s say you go to a bowling center you’ve never visited before. You head down to the lanes, go through your normal prep, grab your ball, and get set for that first practice shot.

First, though, you look at the dots on the approach to find your usual starting distance behind the foul line. Now you’re ready. But…

As you stand on the approach, ball in hand, maybe you feel that something is…not…quite…right. Maybe those dots are fooling you. Maybe…just maybe…those dots aren’t in the same place as they are back home. Can this be?

Yes, it can.

Typically, there are three rows of dots on the approach, each row parallel to the foul line. Most of us, I think, feel it’s safe to assume that the placement of those dots on the approach is the same at every bowling center: about 1 inch from the foul line, then again at 12 feet, then ...

Already a premium member? Click here to log in.

Phil Regan

About Phil Regan

Phil Regan, a USBC-certified Silver coach, has been teaching bowling since 1964. Retired from corporate life, he coaches bowlers of all levels in the northern California area and competes on the PBA50 and PBA Regional tours. Phil can be found online at