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Beginner Bowler Footwork Checkpoints

Experienced bowlers can benefit from brushing up on the same good footwork fundamentals as can beginner bowlers. In fact, there are many thousands of bowlers today who could use bowling lessons by an experienced instructor to help them improve their footwork on the lanes.

Learning the keys to good footwork for beginners will help you develop a consistent approach that is synchronized with your arm swing. Here are ten checkpoints to good footwork that newcomers can apply when learning about a good bowling approach and developing bowling accuracy:

1. Use your natural length walking stride for consistent footwork. In a standard four-step approach, begin with the right foot (if you are a right handed bowler) and end with your sliding step, your left foot.

2. Bowlers 6 feet in height will typically cover about 12 feet plus or minus 6 inches allowing for the slide with a four-step approach. If you have a short walking stride, use the set of dots on the approach measuring 12 feet from the foul line and stand perhaps 6 to 18 inches in front of the guide dots, depending on where your slide finishes near the foul line.

Bowlers without a long walking stride should be positioned nearer the guides 12 feet from the line, plus or minus 6 inches in front of or behind the guide dots, depending on the individuals length of walking stride.

3. It is recommended that the toe on the sliding bowling shoe finishes only 6 inches or less from the foul line for all bowlers and points to the pins upon completion of the sliding step.

4. The strategy to maintaining good balance while walking to the foul line is to keep your head and shoulders stable and motionless. Avoid unneeded movement of your torso, other than the swinging of your bowling ball. Maintain the position of your balance arm, and a slight upper body tilt forward so you remain in an athletic posture throughout your approach.

5. Avoid racing or lunging with your steps causing you to bounce and thrust your upper body back or forward during your approach. This causes a loss of balance and errant deliveries.

6. The pace of your steps should be slow enough as to produce a smooth walking motion to the foul line with a slight heel-to-toe action leading into the slide step, yet with sufficient pace to produce good ball speed. Each step should match in pace with the previous and be fairly uniform in length to prevent loss of balance.

7. The slide step should glide into the approach with the sole leading your heel of the bowling shoe and with both gliding evenly and smoothly from the momentum built from the first steps.

8. It is important to maintain even tempo on each step to maintain good body balance. Swinging the bowling ball will help you gain natural momentum even when you feel each step is taken at the same pace.

Avoid taking a quick first step, then slowing in the middle steps, and then charging into the foul line on the final sliding step. Develop a gradually increasing pace of steps to build momentum and produce good ball speed.

9. Maintain a slight amount of knee flex during the first three steps. Allow your knee on your sliding leg to flex slightly more than previous steps so the big muscles of your sliding leg are brought into use. The big muscles of the leg provide balance and stability during your slide step and also develop leverage and natural power as you transfer momentum from the first three steps into a long and smooth sliding step.


10. Walking straight lines is key in achieving a good arm-swing and accuracy when delivering the ball. A good objective is to walk as straight a line as possible ending on the same board with the sliding bowling shoe at the foul line as where the shoe was positioned originally in your set-up position, regardless where on the approach you are aligned. Limiting the amount of drift to the left or right to about two boards from the initial set-up alignment will also help the arm swing seek a path toward the target.

We highly recommend every new bowler purchase a pair of bowling shoes and use the services of a professional bowling instructor or certified coach to help you learn additional fundamentals of a good bowling approach. A bowling lesson is well worth the investment and helps familiarize any bowler with the components of a good bowling approach.

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