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Four Steps To Good Bowling

For new bowlers, using the classic four step approach can serve you very well. By learning the bowling four step approach, you will build consistent footwork and be well on your way to developing a sound bowling approach.

Let’s examine some important components of the four step approach:

Sliding within one or two inches of the foul line is important when delivering your bowling ball. Standing an appropriate distance from the foul line, therefore, is critical to ending up the same distance from the line after each approach.

Position yourself during a practice session with your heels of your bowling shoes one inch behind the foul line and with your back to the pins. Take four natural walking steps at a lively pace plus a half step to simulate your sliding action when actually bowling. Turn around, face the pins and look down at the toe of your sliding bowling shoe. This is where you should stand when you set-up on the approach as you prepare to bowl.

Place your feet so your bowling shoe toes are pointing slightly toward your target and in the same direction. Place your feet 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 will help you begin your first step smoothly and transition into your next steps at a consistent pace.

Take steps at your normal walking stride. Begin with the right foot if you are a right handed bowler and end with your left foot which becomes your sliding step. Do not bounce or lose balance while walking to the foul line and keep your head as motionless as possible. Although some bowlers walk faster than others, steps should be taken at a uniform pace from step to step and your swing should match pace with your footwork.

Use a slight heel-to-toe action leading into the slide step. The slide step should glide into the approach maintaining knee flex in your sliding leg. Your momentum from the first steps should enable you to slide smoothly with balance, and be in a stable position to release the bowling ball.

Hastening the slide step or pushing off too quickly from the step before the slide can cause a thrusting action into the foul line and usually causes a hurried release of the bowling ball. It is important to maintain the same pace each step and for each delivery so your arm swing can be well timed with your footwork.

Maintain about one inch knee flex during your first three steps. Allow your sliding knee to flex slightly more so the big muscles of your sliding leg are brought into use. The big muscles of the slide 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. If your legs are too stiff with no flexing motion on your initial steps, it will be difficult to transfer body weight into the sliding step while still maintaining good balance with your upper body.

The sliding step should begin with the ball of your bowling foot contacting the approach smoothly and end with an equal amount of pressure on both the sole of the shoe and the heel of the shoe. Your sliding step should slide toward the center part of your body while your trailing leg sweeps aside toward your non-bowling shoulder as a counter-balance so you can maintain a stable posture while swinging and delivering the bowling ball.


An extremely important key to accuracy and consistent approaches is the direction you walk to the foul line. It cannot be emphasized enough how vital walking your lines is to achieving an accurate and target-seeking arm swing.

A good objective for new bowlers, or for anyone trying to develop good footwork, is to walk a straight line and end on the same board with your sliding bowling shoe as where you were originally positioned on the approach in your set-up. Regardless of where you position yourself laterally on the approach for spares or for a strike ball delivery, don't drift away from where you began. Steps placed under the center of your body to maintain balance result in a straight walking path to the line.

Each step should be measured in length and placed directly under the center of the body for maximum balance. Limit your drift from left to right to about two boards maximum from your set-up alignment so your arm-swing path can easily remain aligned with your intended target path on the lane.

We highly recommend getting a good pair of bowling shoes right away and using the services of a professional bowling instructor or certified coach to help you learn the fundamentals of a good bowling approach.