How to Bowl Straight

The straight shot is the first technique that most bowlers learn after strapping on their bowling shoes. 

A straight shot occurs when a ball rolls straight down the lane instead of hooking or curving. This technique works particularly well on the second throw to help you knock down those last few pins. 

Some people may want to jump right into a cooler-looking hook shot, but this method is more complicated and will be very difficult if you haven’t mastered the straight shot first. If you’re serious about the game or just want to beat your friends, straight-ball bowling is an important skill to know. 

How to Shoot a Straight Shot: A Step-by-Step Guide

Shooting a straight ball is the easiest technique you’ll see in the bowling alley, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get it on the first try. If you want to try your hand at bowling, start with a simple straight shot. 

  • First, find your position behind the foul line. To find where you should start, stand a few inches before the foul line and take five normal steps directly away from it. 
  • Once you’ve found your starting point, stand with your feet about four inches apart with your right foot five boards to the left of the centerline. Your left foot and left leg should be even with the center dot. 

Keep your toes pointed forward and your torso parallel to the foul line. 

  • Bend your elbow to a 90-degree angle with the ball lightly cradled on your wrist. Lean your bowling arm slightly against your body. 

Keep your palm pointed upwards or in a handshake position. These steps will prepare you for the arm swing. 

  • Next, take two or three steps forward while swinging the ball directly back. Once you’ve completed your third step, your arm should be at the apex of the backswing. 
  • On your final step, you’ll swing your bowling ball forward while bending your right knee a bit towards the ground. Release when the ball passes your ankles. 

Keep your arm muscles relaxed, and let gravity take the ball down the bowling lane when letting go. 

Bowling Tips for Shooting a Straight Shot

If you’re looking to perfect your straight shot, there are a couple of things you should consider, like posture and the “pocket.” 

What Is the Pocket?

The pocket is the best place to aim to get a strike. The issue with a straight ball is that your chances of hitting a strike decrease, while the likelihood of having a seven-ten split on the second ball will increase. 

This problem is why it is best to learn how to do a ball hook once you have mastered straight bowling. 

For most people, the pocket is the area between the first and third pins. The first pin, also called the head pin, is the single pin at the pyramid point. 

The third pin is in the row behind it on the right side. 

For left-handed bowlers, you’ll need to aim for the space between the first and second pin. You’ll find the second pin alongside the third pin. 

To hit the pocket when straight bowling, you’ll need to angle the ball slightly. Instead of directing your bowling hand straight down the lane, aim towards the second arrow. 

Maintaining Good Posture

When executing a straight shot, you need to have good posture the entire time. Without excellent technique, the bowling ball hooks to one side instead of moving straight towards the pocket. 

Make sure that you keep your arm and wrist straight when you swing and release the ball and maintain good posture. Keeping your body moving in a straight line will keep the ball straight. 

An excellent way to practice this is with good follow-through. After you have released the bowling ball, bring your arm straight up in front of you until it is level with your shoulder. 

This follow-through method will help you to learn to keep your wrist and arm straight through the swing. 

Left- vs. Right-Handed Bowlers

Contrary to what many believe, the bowling technique isn’t that much different for a left-handed bowler. The main differences, of course, are the hand you use to bowl, your starting position, and the location of the pocket.

When you’re a left-handed bowler, the best starting position is to place your right foot in line with the inside of the center or middle dot. You’ll find the center dot near the middle of the lane a few feet past the foul line. 

Left-handed players may feel they’re at a disadvantage against right-handed bowlers since most of the house balls are for the right-handed bowler, but left-handedness may have its advantages. 

For instance, since most people are right-handed, most bowling balls travel on the right side of the lane. All of this use means that the left side will have the most lane oil, so lefties can easily get forward momentum. 

Other Tips for Straight Shots

Not every tip for making a straight shot is about the actual technique. Straight bowlers should know some simple rules and tips about bowling so that they can hit the pocket consistently. 

Choosing a Ball

To ensure the ball is thrown straight, you’ll need to choose the ball that’s right for you. Weight and finger position are essential factors in picking out the right ball. 

Most professional bowlers use a 15- or 16-pound ball, but many people will need a lighter ball. Some say that your ball weight should be 10% of your body weight, but ultimately comfort is most important. 

With that said, bowling ball weight is important because you need to swing with enough force so that when you release the ball, it can travel at about 16mph. A lighter ball won’t have as much power as a heavy ball, but you will be able to move your bowling arm better to manipulate the ball’s trajectory. 

Hitting the sweet spot is a lot more important than throwing the ball hard. 

Finger position is essential as well. The conventional grip is with your thumb in the single hole and your middle and ring fingers as the two fingers in the holes next to each other. 

If you can’t comfortably put your thumb in the thumb hole or your ring finger or middle finger feel stretched, try a different size. If none of the house balls feel right to you, consider buying your own. 

Know When to Use a Straight Shot

The straight shot isn’t the most glamorous of methods, but it does have its advantages. For instance, the straight shot is preferred by stronger bowlers because they can throw the bowling ball as hard as possible while still keeping the ball straight. 

The straight shot is also the most straightforward technique and is the best for certain second shots. 

Unfortunately for beginners, a straight ball isn’t the best method for the first shot. The reason for this, as stated above, is that it is harder to bowl a strike when the ball travels completely straight. 

Consistency and Practice

Everybody has heard the term “practice makes perfect,” and bowling is no different. If you want to get better at bowling, you have to practice regularly, but many people don’t realize that consistency is just as important. 

Every time you throw your strike shot (the strike shot is the first ball you throw in a set), you should stand in the same spot in order to build muscle memory. 

Using the same ball each time also helps you stay consistent, even if you’re playing at several different bowling alleys. It’s best to get your own ball if you are serious about bowling, or you can try to use the same house ball each time. 

Final Thoughts

Bowling doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little bit of practice and some determination, anyone can learn to bowl a straight shot.