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LAUNCH PAD: How You Set Up On The Approach Is Just As Important As Your Delivery

One of the most common problems facing average and above-average bowlers also is one of the easiest problems to fix. Very few league bowlers stop to think about presetting their launch angles, and it’s amazing how much that simple step can help your game.

During the course of a league night, it’s likely you are going to move a bit on the lanes and change your angle to the pins. It stands to reason, then, that your body must adjust to those changes so that the ball comes off your hand at the proper angle. That’s what we mean by “launch angles.”

The great thing is that the key to correcting inconsistent or improper launch angles is simply a matter of awareness. It’s an easy fix because it’s something that is established before you’re in motion. There’s no muscle memory attached because it is done during your setup. When you are setting your body on the approach, you set the angle of your feet, hips and shoulders with the intended projection angle. By doing this, your swing will come through smoothly and accurately.

Let’s say the lanes are really tight and you’re playing pretty far to the right and want to keep your ball tight to the gutter up the lane. To effectively do that you need to keep your feet, hips and shoulders at the same angle in terms of openness up the lane. In this case, the ball has to go straight off your hand, so you want to make sure you close down those angles when you’re in your setup.

Conversely, as the lane starts to break down you may move your feet seven or eight boards to the left and your target two or three boards to the left. Now, you have opened up that angle and you’re going to have to belly the ball out a bit. You’ve changed the angle that the ball will come off your hand, so you want to make sure that before you ever get your feet in motion on the approach you open your feet, hips and shoulders to preset your new angle. The angle of your body will dictate the angle that the ball is going to come off your hand.

The most important thing to remember when presetting your launch angles is that these angles must all be in synch. The feet, hips and shoulders all should be lined up the same way. If one of those angles is different than the others, your body will get twisted and you will be forced to change your swing to compensate.

The most common problem with league bowlers is that they will set up on the approach with their feet open, their hips less open and their shoulders completely closed. Your feet and hips are going to want to project the ball out to the right, but your shoulders are going to want you to keep the ball straight up the lane.

Remember, when you move closer to the gutter on the right, close down your preset launch angles. As you migrate toward the middle of the lane and the ball is going to be traveling away from the pocket, you need to open up those angles. Properly presetting your launch angles during your setup is simple, but really important. The key is to focus on making sure all three angles are lined up in the same direction.

— Bryan O’Keefe is Assistant Coach and Facility Manager at the International Training and Research Center in Arlington, Texas.

Permission granted by USBC/Luby Publishing