Ball Speed

How to Control your Bowling Ball Speed




       Speed Control Part 1......How to throw the ball slower

Ball speed is one of the most important factors in shooting high scores. Your ball speed must match up with the lane condition and the ball you are throwing at the time. If the lanes are too slick for your ball speed, the ball will skid right past the break point. The break point is of course the spot on the lane where the ball needs to start griping the lane and start hooking toward the pocket. Think of the break point as the mouth of a driveway that you need to turn your car into, and you are traveling on an icy road. At the end of the driveway is a garage with a very narrow entrance that you must drive you car into. This garage entrance is the pocket to the pins that we need to hit in order to throw a strike. If your ball speed is too high, just like your car is traveling too fast on the icy road, it can't make the turn at the break point and drive toward the pocket.

So if our ball speed is too high for the condition how do we slow it down? A lot depends on your bowling style. If you use a fairly free arm swing, adjusting ball speed is much easier. If you use a very muscled arm swing, where you tend to really pull the ball down from the top of the back swing, adjusting ball speed may be harder for you. As I have said many times, there is no one way to bowl. But here are some things that I have found that work for most people. Number one, unless you already hold the ball very low in your stance, lower your ball. If you only need to slow your ball speed a small amount then lower your ball two or three inches. If you need to lower your ball speed a lot, then lower the ball 8 to 10 inches in your stance. It can also help to bend your knees a little.

The next thing is to move up on the approach about the same amount that you lowered the ball. When you lower the ball in order to throw it slower, you are changing your swing cycle, the amount of time it takes the ball to go from first motion to the release. Even though you are throwing the ball slower, the ball may complete the swing cycle quicker than before, because the ball is not traveling as far. I have found that for a lot of people moving up on the approach will keep them in time. Your brain knows that it is closer to the foul line and it will compress and slow the steps the correct amount. You will have to practice this and see how well it works for you. You may find that you have to move up a little more or less to keep your timing correct. If you really practice this you can change your ball speed in very small degrees.

Some lane conditions require us to only slow our speed a little, while a flooded condition my require us to cut our normal speed almost in half. I suggest practicing your slowest ball speed often, if you are a bowler going out and competing at a high level. Flooded lane conditions are very rare and you will not be ready if you don't make throwing the ball slow part of your normal practice routine. If you already hold the ball low in your stance or tend to force the ball a lot, try just moving up on the approach a little. Try to think of your hand as a passenger on the ball just along for the ride and not a engine that's pushing the ball forward. When you are trying to throw the ball really slow it's important that you not do a strong follow through. All you need is the momentum of your arm swing going through the ball. A strong follow through or an attempt to rev the ball more, will only result in more forward momentum and the ball will skid farther and be less controllable. A good way to practice slow ball speeds, is to throw a plastic ball if you have one, and try to make it hook more and more by throwing it slower and slower.

Speed Control Part 2......How to throw the ball faster

There are times when we need more ball speed to overcome a drying lane condition, or to just make the ball in our hand match up better to the lane condition. There are basically 3 levels of increased ball speed. The first is a situation where we need just a little more ball speed. Maybe you notice that you have depleted enough oil on the lane that the ball is starting to hook a little too early or that the ball is starting to roll out on you. In this situation you may decide that you need just a little more ball speed. At this first level we are not trying to break the sound barrier but just trying to make a minor adjustment. In that case most people can just hold the ball 3 or 4 inches higher in the stance. I always suggest that most people try holding the ball about waist high for there normal ball speed. That gives you somewhere to go if you need to amp it up a little. When you hold the ball higher you will get a boost of speed from the help of gravity. Gravity is a very powerful force and raising a bowling ball just a few inches higher in the stance will in turn make your back swing a few inches taller, which will add the extra speed you need. It is best to always use more gravity over more muscle because gravity is the most constant force on the planet. That means that a faster shot that was thrown by using gravity, is more repeatable than a shot where we just used more muscle to propel the ball down the lane.

The second level of increased ball speed is more than just a minor adjustment to get the ball to skid a few more inches. This next level of speed may be needed to overcome a much dryer lane condition. If we need to amp it up a couple MPH, then we need to hold the ball even higher in the stance. Try holding the ball anywhere from 6 to 12 inches higher. This will change your swing cycle, so you most likely will need to move back on the approach, by about the same amount that you increased your ball height. This will stretch out your steps and make them a little quicker, to better suit your new arm swing. This helps you keep good timing and is much easer than actually telling yourself to walk faster or slower. Try holding the ball at different heights and standing in different places on the approach to see how much speed you can generate without loosing control. Try to only use the added speed of gravity and not additional muscle in your swing.

The third and final level of increased ball speed is a big one. This is a last resort move that we make if the lanes are way to dry for us to overcome with conventional methods. At this speed level, we will need to apply some muscle. But we need to apply it the right way and at the right time. We need to apply the muscle in a manor that compliments and works with gravity. This will make best use of our muscle power and have the least adverse effects on our approach and accuracy. We still use the higher ball position and move back on the approach that we used in level two. This time though we are going to do the big no no. We are going to muscle the ball down, AFTER the peak of the back swing. This is a critical point and a big mistake that a lot of people make when they try to throw the ball harder. We need to wait on the ball to reach it's peak in the back swing and then start to fall on it's own. Then and only then, do we apply a downward pressure on the ball and increase that pressure gradually until the ball nears the bottom of the swing.

Remember that one of Newton's laws of motion in physics is "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". This equal and opposite reaction becomes torque in the upper part of your body that will tend to open your shoulder more as you force the ball forward. We minimize this by waiting on the ball to start falling and gradually increase the pressure to accelerate the ball. This is using the laws of physics to our best advantage. When you throw the ball at this kind of speed, you will need to make sure you have a quick enough approach to keep your timing in line. Since we are forcing the ball after the peak of the back swing, the ball can start to out run us to the foul line. This will give us early finish timing and cause us pull the ball inside of our target and or make us have a weak release. It is a good idea to push strongly with the right leg (right handed) into your slide as you complete your next to last step. This added approach speed will also add some speed to the ball. If you find that even with your increased speed, the ball still hooks off the lane, then I suggest that you open your wrist some to take some revs off of the ball. This is especially important for high rev players. If they don't open the wrist some, then they add as many revs to the ball as they do speed and the ball hooks just as much as before.  Also I would check out the Ultimate Bowling Guide eBook, there is a small price for it, but it's well worth it in my opinion.  That's it, take care folks.







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