Coaching Tips

Creating the Right Angle of Entry

In order to consistently throw a lot of strikes in the sport of bowling, you must hit the pocket from the correct angle and with the right speed.  The optimum angle for a strike is 6-7 degrees. 

The pins you leave indicate whether the angle of entry into the pocket is greater or less than 7 degrees. So why does the angle of entry matter so much you might ask?

If the entry angle is less than 6 degrees, the ball tends to deflect too much. Alternatively, if the entry angle is greater than 7 degrees, the ball will often drive too hard through the pins and not provide the necessary deflection.

You can change your pocket angle by making either parallel or staggered targeting adjustments. A parallel adjustment is when you move both your starting point on the approach and your target on the lane the same number of boards; in the same direction. A staggered adjustment requires moving your starting position on the approach and your target on the lane a different number of boards. But unless you are a physics professor and can tell the angle by sight, let's run through how to tell whether your angle of entry is above or below 7 degrees!

Leaving solid 10 pins (or 7 pins for left handers), where the 6 pin flies around the 10 pin, or leaving either the 8 pin or 9 pin from a solid pocket hit indicates the angle of entry is higher than 7 degrees. The video below shows a bowler leaving the 9 pin. The ball simply hasn't deflected enough through the pins and failed to take out the 9 pin (one of 4 pins the ball is actually supposed to make contact with).

If this is happening to you try moving your feet and target towards the centre of the lane as this will decrease the angle. For example move your feet 4 boards and your target 2 boards towards the centre of the lane.

An angle entry less than 7 degrees is often characterised by what is referred to as a "soft 10" (or "soft 7" for left handers). The video below shows precisely this, where the 6 pin just lays in the gutter in front of the 10 pin.

If this happens to you more than you would like, try a parallel adjustment and move your feet and target the same amount of boards eg move your feet and target 1 board towards the gutter. This will allow the ball a little more time on the backend to build up directional momentum for a strong pocket hit.

Remember the greater the angle with which the ball enters the pocket, the greater the power on the ball in terms of carrying the pins for a strike. The perfect pocket angle has the ball entering the pocket in such a manner that it will maintain its path of deflection through all ten pins.