Watching other bowlers for the purpose of improving your play is what’s known as tracking. Scott Pohl, owner of On Track Pro Shop, provides advice to help expedite the learning curve on how to gather information from other bowlers that will help keep you competitive throughout a league night or tournament.
Who best emulates your style?
If you are a straighter player, watch other straighter players that have a good look into the pocket that are scoring well. There is no sense in watching the two-handed bowlers hook the lane when that is not what you are doing.
Where are they playing?
Start by observing where they are playing at the arrows. From there, watch the bowling ball’s motion and shape as it goes down lane and into the pocket.
Observe where the bowling ball begins to hook or turn back towards the pocket down lane. This is known as the breakpoint.
The breakpoint is located at the end of the oil pattern, where the friction or dry part of the lane begins.
Check out the “Process for Finding Bowling Breakpoint” to learn more about how to find the breakpoint from reading a lane sheet.
Rotation off their hand
Hand position at the point of release dictates how the bowling ball rolls down lane. The bowler you are tracking will have a distinct hand position at the point of release that will make their bowling ball roll a certain way.
Knowing this can help you adjust if you are struggling. Check out “Axis Rotation & Axis Tilt: Bowling Release Adjustments” for more information.
How does their bowling ball react in the backend?
A bowling ball goes through three phases when going down lane: Skid, hook and roll.
The backend is where the roll phase happens, and how the bowling ball goes through the pins identifies if the bowler is matched up to the lane condition.
You will see the bowling ball roll end-over-end as it approaches the pocket. This means the bowling ball is traveling at the same speed as it is spinning. This gives you less pin deflection and a higher strike percentage. The bowling ball will roll off of the center of the deck.
Check out “Breaking Down Ball Motion” to learn more.
What bowling ball coverstock are they using?
Is it dull or shiny? Remember 75% of a bowling ball’s motion (the way it reacts on the lane) is credited to its coverstock. Shiny is what is known as a weaker bowling ball and dull is a stronger bowling ball.
Check out “Identifying Strong and Weak Bowling Balls” for more information.
For more ways to improve your game, check out “What Can and Cannot be Controlled in Bowling” and “How to Get the Most From Your Coach.”