Like our FB page

Like our website
Tweet @bowlingball
+1 bowlingball.com
Use and distribution of this article is subject to our terms and conditions
whereby bowlingball.com's information and copyright must be included.

How To Roll A Bowling Strike

Learning how to roll a bowling strike is a big step to improving your overall scores. The goal of any beginner bowler, newcomer to the game, or even competitive bowlers averaging up to 150, is to deliver your ball into the pocket for the best chance of getting a strike. There are a few key factors in learning how to roll a bowling strike. These factors are as follows:

1. Pocket Location

2. Initial Alignment

3. Alignment Adjustments


Rolling a strike is sometimes a matter of good fortune. Strikes can come by way of missing the head pin and with pin-action on the deck, pins can tumble and fall causing non-ordinary strikes. Strikes can come from cross-over hits where a bowler targets one pocket area of the pin formation but misses with the ball delivery, crosses over to the other pocket, and gets a strike. By far and away, the greatest number of strikes consistently come from pocket hits. The 1 & 3 pin combination constitutes the pocket for right handed bowlers and the 1 & 2 pin combination constitutes the pocket for left handed bowlers. If the pro bowlers we see on TV target the appropriate pocket, then it means the greatest chances of getting a strike is by hitting the pocket squarely and doing so repetitively for good scores. Let's take a closer look at our three keys in rolling a strike:

1. Pocket Location - The center of the pocket is located on the 17.5 board on the pin deck. Using a right handed bowler as the example, the pocket is on the 17.5 board counting from the right edge of the lane. The center of the "head pin" pin spot on the pin deck is located on the 20 board, the exact center of the bowling lane, which also aligns with the center bowling arrow 15 feet beyond the foul line of the approach and with the center dot on the approach in various distances from the foul line.

It is recommended by the bowling ball manufacturers (after years of testing and experimentation) for you to release the ball between 18 - 21 miles per hour so the ball will impact the pins between 15 - 18 m.p.h. mph. The average velocity between 16-18 m.p.h. is suggested for balls traveling down the entire distance of the lane to achieve optimum pin carry and to control bowling ball motion as consistently as possible.

A pocket hit is one in which the bowling ball contacts the head pin first on the right side of the pin and then contacts the 3 pin next (right handed bowlers). Ideally, the angle of entry the bowling ball arrives at the pocket is about a 30 degree impact angle as the ball travels from bowlers right to bowlers left but varies from player to player and with lane conditions.

2. Initial Alignment - New bowlers without any previously coaching typically roll the bowling ball from random angles on strike deliveries. These bowlers achieve random results and seldom improve because they have no system of initial alignment nor for adjustments. It is important to use the lane oiling procedure found in most bowling centers in the country as an aide and alignment guide.

The highest volume of oil conditioner is generally applied to the lane surface located between the 2nd arrow on the right of the lane and the 2nd arrow on the left side of the lane. Also, the heaviest volume of oil is located from the foul line where the bowling ball first contacts the lane surface down the lane to approximately 20 feet distance past the foul line. Of course, each bowling center has its own oiling procedures, but in most cases, the 2nd arrow is a good place for an initial alignment to the pocket.

If you roll a perfectly straight ball delivery, you will have to use an angle from about the 6 or 7 board from the edge of the lane just beyond the foul line toward the 10 board (2nd arrow) and continuing down the lane to the pocket at 17.5 board. Your sliding bowling shoe should end up with the instep about 5 boards left of the release point where your ball first contacts the lane surface just beyond the foul line (again, for right handed bowlers) which is the 11 or 12 board, in this example for straight ball players.

If you have a modest curve or hook ball delivery, then you will use an angle from left of the 10 board, say about the 13 or 14 board just beyond the foul line, your slide shoe instep will cover the 19 board when completing your slide into the foul line, and your ball will continue toward the 10 board or 2nd arrow, and then continuing further down the lane to the break point about two-thirds the way down the lane, and then finally hooking to the pocket on the pin deck.

Power players, those players using a high revolution delivery and those who produce a lot of hook on the bowling ball, will use a wider angle toward the 2nd arrow target on the lane than will the modest hook player. Players using a great deal of hook will have a high risk and high reward scenario awaiting them. A modest hook delivery will be the easiest to get into the pocket consistently on standard house lane conditions but the power player/big-hook delivery will create a strong angle of entry into the pins and produce the greatest percentage of pin carry and strikes. The greater hook you roll, the more challenging it is to be accurate.

In cases with right-handed bowlers using "back-up" ball deliveries should use an alignment for a left handed player.

3. Alignment Adjustments - Adjustments from an initial alignment position will be needed when a ball is delivered accurately toward the 2nd arrow but does not end up solidly impacting the pocket. Make sure you are delivering your ball at a consistent ball speed each delivery before making an adjustment.

The amount of lateral adjustment for missing the pocket from your initial alignment, either to the left or to the right, depends on how far you missed the pocket after rolling your ball over your target. One proven and tested system over the years for most house lane conditions is a "parallel adjustment system." This system simply means to move your feet two boards on the approach while adjusting your target on the lane one board (half as much as your feet positioning), in the same direction, either to the left or to the right, depending on whether your ball missed the pocket solidly to the left or to the right. Simple enough!

For example, right handed bowlers (left handers may use an opposite adjustment technique), moving your feet two boards to the right right and your target on the lane one board right is a good adjustment when your ball slides too far and misses the pocket solidly to the right. This angle adjustment automatically closes your delivery angle on the lane and creates a more direct route for your ball to travel and contact the pocket.

If after adjusting 2:1 ratio to the right and your ball still does not make it to the pocket solidly, then adjust another 2:1 boards to the right. Continue making 2:1 ratio adjustments until your angle matches to the oil conditions and your ball finally contacts the pocket solidly. By the way, the pocket is located on the pin deck and at the 17.5 board.

Adjusting in the opposite direction, 2:1 boards to the left from your initial alignment positioning, will work for lanes which have less than heavy oil and which causes your ball to hook too early and miss the pocket to the left (again in the case of right handed bowlers). Multiple adjustments of 2:1 boards, either left or right, will either close your angle to the pocket on oily lanes or open your angle to the break point down the lane on dry lanes.

After your initial alignment, the lane conditions will change in time depending on how much bowling is done on the lane during a given session. In the case with league bowling, you may have to make your first adjustment for the pocket perhaps before your first game is completed, depending on how many bowlers are on your pair of lanes. You might need to make several adjustments during your league session on the lanes. Be ready to react and make an adjustment once you roll a good delivery and your ball no longer contacts the pocket solidly.

Of course, parallel adjustments may also be made in increments of 1:1 ratios for the fine tuning adjustments and in ratios of 3:1 for greater angle changes to the break point down the lane. The 2:1 common parallel adjustment typically works very effectively on most house conditions and if the oiling conditions are not too severely oily or dry.


bowlingball.com recommends practicing making parallel adjustments, in both directions and multiple times during open bowling sessions where your scores do not matter. Make a series of adjustments in both directions so you become comfortable and familiarized with playing angles other than only the 2nd arrow and so you will trust them during competition.

bowlingball.com also recommends consulting a certified bowling instructor or local bowling professional to help you with an initial alignment procedure. Knowing how to align yourself on the lanes and where to site as a target matching to the oil conditions on the lane surface is key in achieving success and in throwing strikes. Please do not shy away from taking a bowling lesson if you are in doubt about how to align yourself and which target to site.

While you are visiting our site today, please check out the vast menu of bowling consumer products we offer at great prices, with no shipping charges, with free insurance, with no hidden handling fees, and with prompt delivery right to your doorstep! We have become the No. 1 “e-tailer” of choice for bowling equipment by the consumers of America. Ordering is an easy process by following simple online instructions. Thanks for visiting.