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How to Decrease or Increase Your Bowling Ball Speed

Last Updated: 11.04.19


Knowing how to adjust the speed of your bowling ball is a skill that will allow you to manipulate its trajectory once learned, as well as enable you to achieve more or less hook depending on particular situations.

We know how important it is for experienced bowlers not only to obtain higher scores but to perfect their technique, as well. After thorough research looking for the best advice on how to decrease or increase your bowling ball speed, we have compiled this guide for you to find your motivation and the most suitable approach in order to succeed in your endeavor.

Why ball speed matters

As you may already know, having the necessary knowledge to increase or decrease ball speed at will can have a significant impact on your rev rate. In other words, you can impart more or fewer rotations to your ball at the moment of delivery by putting into practice a number of techniques.

The basic lesson about ball speed which, however, many players tend to lose from sight is that it is calculated at the moment of delivery, as soon as you release the ball down the lane from the approach. This speed decreases once the ball touches the lane and continues to decline due to the friction up until it hits the pins.

To put things schematically, ball reaction can be broken down into three phases: skid, hook, and roll. After being released down the lane, the ball starts skidding for a few seconds before changing its direction because of the inertia, which leads to the first of the two transitions.

Then follows the hook motion, in which the ball takes a curved trajectory all the way to the breakpoint located on the back of the lane. In the roll phase, the ball achieves its highest rev rate and the lowest speed, and it is at the moment of this second transition that the entry angle into the pocket is determined.

Remember that details such as your revolution rate, the quality of the ball, and the lane conditions can all factor in when it comes to achieving the desired entry into the pocket. Thus, to make sure you never miss a strike you will want to impart a lower speed to your ball if the lane is smooth and well polished and, conversely, release it at a higher speed if the lane is dry.


Ways to decrease ball speed

The primary determinant of ball speed is how you move your body when delivering the ball. It may seem pretty intuitive, but the most obvious manner in which you can adjust this parameter is to simply throw your ball slower if you want it to slow down faster down the lane.

Although many amateur bowlers hold the belief that higher or lower ball speed is exclusively the effect of their upper body motions, the reality is quite on the contrary, as your legs are the paramount factor determining the final result.

Manipulating the speed so as to achieve a particular entry angle in the pocket can rarely be done by moving to the left or to the right on the approach. Given that the lane is rather narrow, the chances of finding the optimum spot to release the ball are significantly higher if you move your body front-to-back instead.

The secret to decreasing ball speed by using your lower body is to move up in front the length of one or two feet, bringing your starting point closer to the foul line. At the same time, what increases your chances of success is adjusting your tempo to the line. How does this work? The concept is very simple to grasp.

To ensure that you throw the ball in such a way that the speed decreases at a faster rate, release it at a slightly higher point than your normal swing. Your feet will then automatically adapt to your swing to maintain coordination, so to match a longer swing your lower body will be compelled to move more slowly.

While this technique takes time to master, its efficiency has been tried and tested. By practicing it on a regular basis and taking the time you need to perfect it, you will eventually be able to impress all your friends during a friendly bowling game or implement the technique in a competitive environment for maximum scores.

Ways to increase ball speed

Unlike the situation where you can decrease the speed by stepping closer to the foul line when it comes to imparting more speed to the ball, things are not quite as straightforward. Experiments have shown that the bowler’s ability to increase ball speed is not directly correlated with the distance to the foul line.

What, then, helps a player transfer more speed to the ball upon delivering it down the lane? First and foremost, avoid any loss of speed by making sure there is as little tension as possible in your upper and lower body, especially during the swinging cycle.

Many players manage to achieve extra ball speed by swinging the ball higher than they normally would, as the longer swing arc will generate additional momentum. While the ball is at the top of the backward swing, your feet will need to follow moving at a faster pace than usual to adjust to the tempo.

One thing you need to pay special attention to when propelling your ball at a high speed is to maintain proper balance. Remember to keep your body relaxed and don’t fall into the temptation of forcing yourself to execute the forward swing using your torso rather than your arm.

To retain your balance at all times while on the approach and to achieve consistent deliveries, avoid head movements as much as possible – all the more so when attempting to throw the ball at a higher speed, keeping your head and shoulder movement at a minimum is of paramount importance to the accuracy of your throws.



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