Bowling is often overlooked as a sport that requires physical training and exercise in order to be performed well. Bowlers of many different statures, sizes, and fitness levels have been successful in our sport.
Bowling requires extensive use of the core, hips, and lower body to stabilize the bowler at the foul line to allow for the efficient transfer of energy to the ball at the release. I strongly believe that lack of conditioning, muscular weakness, and muscle imbalances can, in many cases, limit a bowler’s success on the lanes. In fact, one of my main professional focuses as a certified personal trainer is on the development of bowler-specific training programs aimed at improving the performance of serious competitive bowlers.
Growing up, gaining ball speed was a huge struggle for me and I worked on increasing it for many years. When I first turned to physical training to improve my bowling, I focused mostly on upper body strength, assuming that increased upper body strength would translate to faster ball speed. Only after gaining formal strength, conditioning, and biomechanics knowledge through my academic and professional studies did I realize that trunk and lower body strength are far more important in force production and speed generation than upper body strength.
Lower body strength is important in bowling and many other throwing sports that involve similar motions. Significant biomechanical research has been done in recent years to help us better understand the motions and body positions that produce power in a wide variety of sports. This article explores a popular concept in the literature called the X-Factor. The X-Factor originates in golf and provides an excellent example of how the lower body contributes to force generation. I will explain the X-Factor concept and give an overview of a research project I recently completed ...
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