3 Common Problems During Bowling’s Approach

Day in and day out, National Bowling Academy’s Coaching Contributors teach bowling lessons. They’ve discovered that most bowlers share common areas that need improvement. Below are three areas of concern that most bowlers need to address to help improve their game.

Inconsistent Push Away

How you start determines how you finish. The direction you push the bowling ball away from your body dictates where the bowling ball ends up in your backswing, and ultimately, down lane.

If you have an errant backswing you will have to correct it at the point of release, and this leads to inconsistencies shot-to-shot.

You can hit your target at the arrows and miss at the breakpoint all because your backswing is coming from a different angle than it should. The margin of error at the breakpoint can be four boards or more.

Observing a bowler’s swing path from behind will tell you if the push away is off. If the ball ends up inside or outside of the bowler’s head instead of in a straight line, the push away was errant. Here is an example of a straight swing path.

If you push the bowling ball away from your body to the left (for right-handed bowlers) the bowling ball will be located outside of the bowler’s head at the peak of the backswing, and you will pull the ball at the point of release.

If you push the bowling ball away from your body to the right (for right-handed bowlers) the bowling ball will be located inside of the bowler’s head at the peak of the backswing, and you will watch the bowling ball miss right.

Check out “The Push Away and its Effect on Bowling Timing” & “Tips for a Better Push Away” to help work on your push away and swing.

Crossover Step

Crossing over your first step as a four-step-bowler and your second step as a five-step-bowler allows for the bowling ball to swing freely while allowing the bowler to get out of the way of the bowling ball, instead of the bowling ball getting out of the way of the bowler.

This helps your footwork stay straight and your arm to swing freely throughout the approach.

You can use two pieces of painter’s tape and place them on the approach for your crossover step. Make them approximately a foot width apart. When you are bowling, try to keep the outside of your foot inside the two pieces of tape.

Over doing the cross over can create as many problems as not doing it at all so try not to overdo it.

Trail Leg

When you hold your position at the foul line, after releasing the bowling ball and watching it travel down lane, this is known as “posting your shot”.

The trail leg plays an important role in this. Often overlooked because of the emphasis on the slide foot, the trail leg also has an impact on proper body position in the finish position.

Your trail leg’s foot (toes) should face the wall. When your toe leads, your hips and lower body are engaged giving you good leverage during the release.

Bowlers that experience problems with inconstancies hitting their target often have their heel go towards the wall.

You can set up an empty bowling ball box and hit it with your toe to help train your lower body to get into a good finish position.

Many bowlers seek out lessons and videos to learn how to make the bowling ball hook more, rather than focus on these areas of concern.

When your physical game is sound from start to finish on the approach, your bowling ball will hook more.

Focus on these areas the next time you are training. Having these strong fundamentals will build up your shot repeatability and increase your average.

Share tips, start a discussion or ask one of our experts or other students a question.

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10 Responses to “3 Common Problems During Bowling’s Approach”

  1. Dean J Rosko

    Well stated

  2. Patricia Ford

    I am a member. Can you share any advise on how to stop leaving the 10 pin on a seemingly good shots?

  3. Patricia Ford

    I love these pointers!

  4. Don Brown

    Former high bowler. Gone from 216 average to 176.

  5. Austin Phillips


  6. Jerry Cline

    I've never practiced the approach as much but after reading this information and watching the video I will incorporate this in my next bowling practice hopefully I will do better and I will focus on finish at the foul line

  7. Dennis B.

    very useful

  8. Mark Rash

    I am a league bowler with a lot of inconsistency. I've been filming myself and discovered that I was hopping into step 3 rather than taking a smooth step. I seem to be correcting that hop, but have noticed that on step 4, I have a very exaggerated crossover where I'm bringing my left leg awkwardly around my right leg upon release. Naturally, this is forcing my arm out of alignment and causing rhe ball to drop way right of target. Any ideas on how to stop this bad habit? That unnecessary crossover is not a natural step of course, so I have no idea where the habit came from. I use a 4-step approach. Thanks in advance!

  9. John O'Donnell

    Great tips, it always pays to get back to basics, thanks !!!

  10. Robert Hill

    Would you recommend during pre-shot set up to use the inside of your shoe or the middle or toe on the desired board at start position? Thanks.