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Bowling Five Steps Vs. Four Steps

The differences between bowling five steps vs. four steps is merely adding a small “trigger step” to set you smoothly into motion. The bowling approach is largely built around sound four step techniques.

Let’s examine some important four step keys and briefly discuss adding the fifth step to clarify your options:

Point your bowling shoe toes slightly toward your target in your stance position. Stand with your bowling shoes perhaps one board apart for balance and stability, and with your slide shoe an inch or two ahead of your balance leg shoe.

Set most of your body weight, perhaps 65% of your weight, onto the foot you are not using as your first step. This technique can help you begin your first step smoothly and transition into your next steps at a consistent pace. This technique works well for both four and five step approaches.

Take steps matching your normal walking stride. The four step approach requires beginning with your right foot (if you are a right handed bowler) and end with your left foot, your sliding step.

The strategy is to not bounce or lose balance while walking. Keeping your head as motionless as possible during your approach.

The pace of your steps should be a continuous movement. Each bowler has their own natural walking tempo and so you must find your own pace of steps. So long as your steps are taken with a uniform pace and not overly fast or too slow, your swing will match pace with your footwork.

Use a slight heel-to-toe action leading into the slide step. Each step should match in pace with the previous steps and be closely uniform in length.

The slide step should glide into the approach maintaining the flex in your sliding leg knee. The momentum built from your previous steps can enable you to slide smoothly, with balance, and be in a stable position to release the bowling ball.

Hurrying the slide step, or pushing off too quickly from the step before the slide, can cause a thrusting action into the foul line. If your final two steps are too quick and beyond your normal pace, expect errant deliveries.

Some bowlers prefer using a sliding stepping motion where each step slides along the approach floor and the toes of the shoes never leave the floor. This motion requires a good deal of knee bend for each step. This approach technique also requires smooth sliding soles on both bowling shoes.


Adding an additional step to begin your approach can help trigger your timing sequence and set your bowling ball into the swing cycle at the appropriate time relative to your first step.

The first step in a five step approach can be a short and slow, smooth step acting as a trigger to set you into motion.

With the four step approach, you focus on beginning your swing motion, the “pushaway” motion, slightly before taking your first step. In the five step approach, move the ball into the swing at the same time as with your first step.

Many five step bowlers prefer this technique because it seems easy to move the ball and the first step at the same time compared to moving the ball ahead of the first step in a four step approach.

With each style, the timing keys are the same.

To find which approach best suits your game, some experimentation will be needed and it is usually best to do some under the supervision of an experienced bowling instructor.

Good coaches have a trained eye and can guide you in setting your approach timing sequence into motion properly and can guide you to developing either a four or five step approach.

One final thought is to make certain you walk your chosen lines and avoid drifting off of your intended walking path, regardless of whether you are using a four or five step approach.

Your swing path generally follows your walking path so it cannot be emphasized enough how vital walking your lines is to achieving an accurate and target-seeking arm swing.