Footwork is the foundation of good bowling. It affects timing, balance, rhythm, direction, ball speed, and, through all of the things it directly affects, the ability to release the ball with power, accuracy, and consistency.
Like two dancers who glide through their routine with grace and rhythm, the bowler and the bowling ball must be as one as they reach the foul line and the point of release. Before we get into the complex relationship between the feet and the ball, let’s take a look at the individual elements that make up footwork: the length of the entire approach, the length of the steps, the direction of the approach, the direction of the steps, and the rhythm or tempo of the entire approach. I’ll be referring to a righthanded bowler throughout this article.
From recreational leagues to professional events, you will see great variation in how far back from the foul line bowlers start their approach. The single most important thing about the overall length of the approach is that it is totally coordinated with the ball so that both get to the foul line at the same time.
This is where the Dance comes into play. If the length of the approach and the entire swing motion are one with each other, then the dancers are doing the same dance. If they are different, then timing is affected and timing affects everything from balance and accuracy to the effectiveness of the release.
Approach length issues
Many bowlers believe that standing farther back on the approach is a good way to generate more ball speed. This is sometimes true, as long as the ball and the bowler reach the foul line at the same time. Not too long ago I was watching a rebroadcast of an event from last year’s PBA summer swing. Randy Pedersen pointed out that Norm Duke stands all the way back on the approach to generate ball speed, using his feet to generate momentum.
What Randy neglected to mention was that Norm was taking eight steps to reach the foul line. When bowlers stand ...
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