Chapter 7, Section F
The Basic Fundamentals of Bowling
In bowling, as in any other sports activity, there are certain standard movements and procedures to be learned before attempting to compete with others. These movements and procedures are what we call "BASIC FUNDAMENTALS", and should be practiced to become familiar with game and competition procedures. Experts will concede that there is no one correct method of delivering the ball; however, research has found that most bowlers, including the professionals, have incorporated certain basic movements and techniques into their delivery in efforts to improve their game.
These basic movements are the basic fundamentals that should be learned and practiced.
Becoming proficient in the execution of these fundamentals will not guarantee a top bowler but it will enable the individual to bowl better consistently with a minimum of practice. Higher scores make for more enjoyment of the game and competition.
In this section, the fundamentals are broken down or separated into individual components, along with the teaching and learning techniques to enable the instructor and the student to better understand and master each component. We urge that the beginning bowler learn the movements and techniques in each component before moving to the next segment, especially before trying to put all components together in an approach and delivery.
It is not necessary to become proficient in each segment, providing the beginner knows and understands what should be done and how. The beginner can practice each movement separately and thus achieve desired proficiency before moving to other movements.
FITTING THE BOWLING BALL AND SHOES
To fit a bowling ball, you are concerned with two major items:
THE CORRECT FIT OF THE THUMB HOLE
THE CORRECT SPAN, OR DISTANCE BETWEEN THUMB HOLE
AND FINGER HOLES
To measure the thumb, have the student start with a straight thumb (no crooks) Insert the thumb as far as possible into the ball. Turn the hand while the thumb is in the hole. The student should just be able to feel the sides of the hole without any movement of the thumb. If the skin on the thumb pulls, try a larger ball. If students cannot feel the sides of the hole, try a smaller thumb hole. Use this method as a start, and caution students that they may have to try a larger thumb hole later, as the thumb has a tendency to swell slightly during bowling due to friction.
To measure the span (distance between holes), insert the thumb into the thumb hole as far as possible. Lay the hand flat across the span and the two finger holes. Use the crease under the large knuckle of the middle finger as a guide in measuring.
This crease should extend 1/4 to 1/2 inch over the hole. If the crease does not reach the finger hole, the span is too long. If the crease extends past the center of the finger hole, the span is too short. Do not bother fitting the ring finger, as the holes are pre-drilled at the factory to give the correct fit on the ring finger if the middle finger is correct.
AT THIS TIME, THE STUDENT SHOULD BE INSTRUCTED ON USING THE TWO MIDDLE FINGERS OF THE BOWLING HAND IN THE BALL, AND THE INDEX AND LITTLE FINGERS AS AIDS IN SUPPORTING THE BALL AND BALANCE.
THE ONLY GRIPPING OF THE BOWLING BALL IS DONE WITH THE THUMB
THE STUDENT SHOULD ALSO BE SHOWN THE CORRECT METHOD OF HOLDING THE BALL, WITH ALL FOUR (4) FINGERS UNDERNEATH AND SUPPORTING THE BALL, WITH THE THUMB PULLING STRAIGHT BACK INTO THE PALM OF THE HAND TO GRIP AND BALANCE THE BALL. CAUTION THAT THE WRIST SHOULD BE STRAIGHT AND FIRM, AND THE ELBOW STRAIGHT.
FITTING THE BOWLING SHOES
Instruction on the shoes should be limited to the difference on the soles of personal shoes and the difference between personal shoes and rental shoes. When using rental shoes, the student should be shown the marking system for sizes and instructed to try the same size shoe as he wears normally. The student should have comfortable shoes and should try different sizes until they are comfortable.
Instruction should point out that the private shoes have rubber soles on the shoe opposite the sliding foot. This rubber should be on the same foot as the arm the student uses to bowl.
The sliding foot, or the foot opposite the bowling arm will have a leather sole for ease of sliding.
The only muscles that should be used are those necessary to commence the movement. The swing should start with a forward motion (towards the pins) using only the necessary effort to start the ball in motion. At this point let the weight of the ball start your arm swing backward (towards player's benches) as far as comfortable. On the forward motion, the weight should again be allowed to provide the inertia necessary for delivery of the ball.
About 3/4 through the return forward motion, the ball should be delivered out on the lane as far as the bowler can reach comfortably.
The arm should then be at the farthest point to complete the natural movement of the swing in a follow through.
During this exercise and in all practice, the feet and body of the student should remain motionless and the body be as still as possible as movement or use of muscles will defeat the purpose of the exercise and cause a bad pendulum swing. Movement other than of the arm will cause inconsistencies in development of a good swing.
THE ONE STEP APPROACH AND DELIVERY
The one step approach and delivery is a prelude to a full approach and delivery, as well as a good position and exercise for learning a push-away, a good stance, and the basics of sighting and aiming. The one step approach and delivery is in use by many visually handicapped persons and others with different disabilities.
To learn the one step approach and delivery, the student should take a position approximately 3 feet behind (spectator side) the foul line. Students should assume the same stance as for learning the pendulum swing, The pendulum swing should be executed as learned with the modification of taking a step with the foot opposite the bowling arm as the ball comes forward on the delivery portion of the swing. The step should be started as the ball begins it's forward motion and be completed with the delivery of the ball on the lane. During the movement forward, the weight of the body should be allowed to move forward with the swing until the weight is on the foot opposite the bowling arm.
Learning this movement will teach coordination between feet and arms, and also increase the momentum of the ball. Some students may find it difficult to attain this coordination, but practice will enable them to overcome this difficulty.
The instructor can assist the student by swinging the bowling ball and verbally instructing the bowler on when to take the step.
The instructor will need to stand beside the bowler and actually make the movement with them to correctly execute the movement.
After most of the students have become comfortable with the one step approach and delivery, modifications to the stance may be made to allow the student to begin in an upright position and execute the delivery. Many times, this will enable the student to better execute and become familiar with the movements involved.
A further instruction that should be carried out at this time is the basics of sighting and aiming, and instructions should be given to the student on pointing the body at the pins and going in a straight line towards what they are trying to hit. To bowl consistently, a student should understand that the ball goes in the direction the body is facing. Instructors should position the bowlers in the middle of the lane and have them step straight ahead.
If the movements ar executed correctly, the ball should go approximately down the middle of the lane. Next, move the students to the right on the approach, and have them face slightly left, then execute the movements, again stepping straight ahead.
The ball should then go towards the seven (7) pin if correctly done.
Next, move them to the left and repeat as above, except face to the right. The ball should go in the direction of the ten (10) pin this time.
Stress that accuracy at this time is not important, rather understanding the concept of facing what you are trying to hit, execute the fundamentals, and the ball will go in that direction.
This concept holds true regardless of number of steps taken or pins that are standing. This concept will be refined and practiced later in the course, but the understanding can better be taught with the one step approach and delivery as not too many principles are available at this time to confuse the student.
THE WALK TO THE FOUL LINE
The walk to the foul line involves a slight modification to the normal walk. The bowler should walk on the balls of their feet as much as possible as this will keep the weight of the body over the feet and defeat the normal procedure of the heels hitting the ground before the rest of the foot. Learning to walk correctly is not difficult, but could feel awkward to some individuals as weight distribution and balance have a different feeling. Learning to keep the weight over the feet will eliminate the danger of the student hitting their ankle as the ball is delivered. With the modification, the only thing required is a normal walking pace at a slightly faster than normal cadence.
To learn the walk, the student should be told that it is executed by starting with small steps and at a slow pace, and increasing the length of the step as well as the speed of the steps as the delivery is executed. The FIRST STEP of a walk should be approximately a HALF-STEP, taken with the foot on the same side as the bowling arm. the SECOND STEP is approximately a 3/4 length step, naturally with the opposite foot. The THIRD STEP IS a normal length step, and the FOURTH AND FINAL STEP IS a normal length step that ends IN A SHORT SLIDE OF 4 to 6 INCHES.
The exercise to learn the walk should be started with the student approximately 12 feet from the foul line, with the feet in the opposite position as used for the one step approach. This should place (for right handers) the left foot slightly ahead of the right (2 to 3 inches) and the feet slightly apart for balance.
For group instruction, the students should hold hands during the execution. The instructor should call the sequence of steps by right or left, ending with the slide. The initial speed should be rather slow, as some persons have difficulty starting off with the correct foot. An aid to teaching the walk is to have the student pick up the heel of the foot that is to move first and put all the weight on the remaining foot. This sometimes solves the incorrect foot problem. During the initial exercises the instructor should caution students about bobbing up and down, and sliding with the foot in front of the body. The weight should always be above the feet. After three or four times going through the walk, the speed of the walk should be increased to approximately that amount required for the walk and execution of the swing and delivery.
At this time, the students who require the use of the rail should be taught to slide their hand on the rail and not attempt to grip the rail either before or during the walk. The student can either run the fingers on the top of the rail, the outside of the rail or the back of the hand on the inside (toward student) of the rail. Any method is acceptable, as long as the student does not use the rail for support and balance.
THE APPROACH AND DELIVERY
The approach and delivery combine all of the elements that have been taught and become familiar to the student. It involves putting the ball in motion, executing the swing, the walk, slide, delivery and follow through. Some instructors prefer to have a complete review of all these techniques before starting the approach and delivery.
In executing the approach and delivery, there is one key that should be taught. THE STUDENT AND THE BALL START MOVING TOWARDS THE PINS AT THE SAME TIME In other words, the pushaway, or motion used to start the ball in motion and the beginning of the first step should be executed at the same time. Once the swing is started, the student should continue to walk during the swing, attempting to end up in the correct delivery position when the ball does. The student should be taught that THE LENGTH AND SPEED OF THE STEPS ARE ADJUSTED, NOT THE SPEED OR THE MOTION OF THE SWING. THE SWING SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE SAME, WITH THE WALK BEING THE ONLY VARIABLE.
After the student becomes familiar with the approach and delivery, instruction should be given on finding the correct starting position on the lane in relation to the foul line.
Students should be taken to the foul line, faced towards the players benches and instructed to use the rail and take FOUR AND ONE-HALF (4 1/2) STEPS AWAY FROM THE FOUL LINE. They should then position them selves on the rail by finding a joint, upright or some spot on the rail that can be used as a guide for finding the starting spot. A piece of tape or some other material may be used initially until the student has time to become familiar with the rail and accustomed to finding the correct position from the end of the rail.