Bowlers who are new to the sport often depend on straight shots to knock down the pins because they are easy to execute.
Expert bowlers, meanwhile, usually rely on not-so-easy hook shots to get consistent strikes. However, they are clever not to dismiss the usefulness of a straight shot, frequently releasing a straight ball to clear out isolated spares.
We often hear that proper equipment is required to carry out tasks effectively; this statement holds true when attempting to release straight shots. To consistently bowl straight, you will need a bowling ball explicitly manufactured to travel straight down the lane.
Out of all the bowling balls on the market, a ball with a polyester coverstock performs best at shooting straight. It has a predictable trajectory, no hook potential, and is easy to control—the ideal straight ball.
How to Bowl Straight – 6 Steps
As you may have deduced, a straight shot hits the pin deck in a straight line.
Compared to a hooked shot, a straight shot has fewer revolutions, lower power, and less pin-carry action. However, it has the shortest distance between you and the target pins.
Let’s discuss how you can bowl straight.
Before you attempt the following steps, I would like to stress the importance of stretching and a good warm-up.
You will only be able to deliver thundering straight shots to the pocket if your body is relaxed. Tight muscles can negatively affect your swing, slowing your arm swing considerably and thus, preventing the distribution of power from your body to the ball.
So, to keep your arms and legs as loose and relaxed as possible, get them stretched and warmed up.
Walk 4-5 steps from the foul line towards the bowler’s lounging area. This will be your standing position.
A bowler releasing a straight shot must identify a useful alignment to the pocket: (1-3) pocket for the righties and (1-2) pocket for the lefties.
Instead of looking far towards the pin deck, rely on the marking of the second arrow as a guide for your entry to the pocket. Your bowling shoe instep must be placed over the 15 board if you want to use the second arrow properly.
Now, maintain a relaxed grip on the ball and secure the ball at chest height towards your bowling hand. Relaxed grips prevent unnecessary revolutions and hooking on the ball, thus promoting a straighter ball path.
This next bit of information will help you understand how you should approach your release.
As I mentioned earlier, you should take 4-5 steps before you release the ball.
Your knees must be relaxed and bent to a small degree. Have your body in a slightly sloping position too.
Take a couple of timed steps initially to set the pace.
Then, skip through the next couple of steps and finally slide forward in your last step. The slide should be the farthest step you take.
Perform the entire approach routine swiftly and avoid taking large uncomfortable strides.
The forward momentum produced from pacing through on your bowling approach can help you generate more power in your shots.
As you go through your backswing, remember to keep your hands and posture as firm and straight as possible.
Release the ball when your hand reaches your ankle area from the backswing. When you release the ball, ensure the thumb exits the finger hole first before withdrawing your index and middle fingers.
At this point, I am assuming that the finger holes on the ball have been drilled as per the size of your fingers. If your ball has ill-fitting finger holes, your fingers can get stuck during release, resulting in erratic shots.
Know that it is counterproductive to swing as hard as possible. You might think that a harder swing/throw results in more power but in doing so, you will compromise your accuracy.
The distance from the placement of your ball at chest height to the apex of your backswing is large enough to help you gain plenty of forward momentum and allow you to generate power naturally.
I can’t stress enough the importance of following through on your shot for greater accuracy.
Follow through your release by swinging your arms and hands straight toward the target. Make sure your palms face upward as if you were imploring the bowling gods to help you land a strike.
Taking out spares can be pretty simple for a straight bowler.
Many straight bowlers often deploy the 3-6-9 spare targeting system to knock down spares. The chief principle of the system is to have the bowler move towards the right to knock down the spares located on the left side of the headpin and to the left if the spares remain on the right side of the headpin.
For greater accuracy, adjustments to the board must be made according to the specific location of the spare pins.
The release routine of the bowling ball remains the same for knocking down spares.
I would like to quote Bruce Lee here for a solid reason. He said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
This quote holds a similar sentiment to the proverb, “practice makes a man perfect.”
So, to excel at shooting straight balls to the pocket on the regular, practice your approach, form, technique, and delivery until your body gets familiar with the routine. When you reach that point, muscle memory will help guide you through your deliveries.