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Robert (Bob) Strickland, a bowler since 1958, and PBA member since 1978. In addition to coaching, Bob is the author of Perceptive Bowling and Bowling Steps to Success. Join us weekly as Bob shares his favorite bowling tips to improve your game.

This week's tip:  
Starting off Right
by: Bob Strickland


When a student "signs up" for a course in high school or college, he expects to BE TAUGHT and to HAVE HOMEWORK. If you are a serious beginner bowler, you should anticipate the same for yourself. Since the SPORT of bowling contains many fascinating aspects for the enthusiastic learner, you can gain great enjoyment from a systematic approach to improvement.

BEING TAUGHT
First, no matter if you are a junior, adult, or senior bowler, you should locate and hire a good bowling INSTRUCTOR who is paid for his or her services. If you need help in locating an instructor, ask a pro shop professional, a bowling center proprietor, a PBA representative, etc. for a referral to a competent one.

How can you determine the quality of an instructor? A GOOD INSTRUCTOR is not necessarily a great bowler. Rather, he or she is a good observer who can pinpoint the causes of problems quickly and make recommendations which cure the cause of the problem. The good instructor understands completely the relationship of ball fit and total weight to each and every element of the delivery.

A good idea is to watch and listen to an instructor during a lesson with a student. You should see that the good instructor is always objective, always dealing with issues and never with the personalities of other instructors. He or she is confident, but not egotistical. A good instructor is a problem-solver and a time-saver for the student.

Beware the poor, or rather, the poorly-informed, instructor! The good instructor can tell you "why", while a POOR INSTRUCTOR can barely tell you "how!" Furthermore, do not confuse enthusiasm with teaching skill; even though an instructor may be quite motivational, the lesson can still lack substance.

The poor instructor does not pay close attention during a lesson; he may not know exactly what to observe. He may demonstrate but not be able to explain concepts well. If he makes any recommendations, they may refer only to symptoms and not to causes. The poor instructor typically uses his student as a guinea pig, having him repeat one pointless movement after another, injecting more errors into the student's already-flawed delivery.

An ongoing relationship with a good instructor can be quite rewarding and is probably necessary if you want to bowl well and are serious about bowling. Learning on your own or with a poor instructor can be a time-wasting experience. The frequent slumps and the time spent in "unlearning" bad habits can be quite substantial and frustrating!

HAVING HOMEWORK
As soon as you can, purchase a good basic bowling text. Ask your instructor or a shop professional for a title. Don't just read -- STUDY -- your book; take notes, just as you would for a course in school. Your objective is to become a lifelong student of bowling form, always comparing what you learn with what you actually do on the lanes.

When you begin your study, do not concern yourself with subjects such as bowling history; save these for later -- after you have learned how to bowl consistently. When reading, disregard pictures which do not actually depict the principles explained in the text. As you progress, pay special attention to the timing between footwork and the position of the ball in the swing.

Use your PRACTICE Time to establish and maintain a PENDULUM SWING and fit the pace of your footwork to it. Everything else -- direction and speed of your steps, and the orientation of your upper body -- will remain consistent if your pendulum swing is consistent. This will help you have a simple, smooth, and consistent delivery.

We encourage you to MEMORIZE the location of the DOTS AND ARROWS on the approach and lane. In practice, use these aids to remember where to stand and where to fix your gaze during your delivery. If your use them consistently, you will keep your body and swing aligned, ensuring a consistent direction to your ball, each and every shot.

 

  
More Strickland Tips:
  Four-Step delivery overview
  Four-Step delivery overview - The First step
  Four-Step delivery overview - The Second step
  Four-Step delivery overview - The Third step
  Four-Step delivery overview - The Fourth step
  House balls and house shoes
  Targeting Aids: The dots and arrows
  Know where you are on the approach
  Starting off Right
 
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This week's tip brought to you by: Robert "Bob" Strickland

 
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