Shhh! It's a Secret #3

Here's another great bowling tip. This one is regarding the evil 'drift'.

Drifting is not necessarily bad although to be effective you must drift the same amount in the same direction EVERY shot. A two board or less drift is generally accepted as not too much. That's not in concrete. Dick Ritger won 20 PBA titles drifting four right. There could be a couple of problems with drift. One is if you drift 7 left, 4 right, 2 left, 6 right. This inconsistency breeds erratic ball behavior. The other is if your drift prevents you from playing the shot the lane might require of you. For example, folks who drift to the right sometimes have problems playing the ditch.

Most people lay the ball down about 6-7 boards to the right (for a right-hander) of the inside of the sliding foot. If this lay down point is inconsistent because of drift, your ball reaction will be inconsistent because you have laid the ball down on a different part of the lane every time. Therefore, the ball will act differently. If you have a problem with inconsistent drift, put a piece of tape at the foul line on the board on which you intend to slide. You can see this tape peripherally and don't need to look at it. Walk toward it until you can cut your drift down to two boards or less.

This may mean that you must take your first step slightly to one side or the other to help get your body aligned. So what? As long as you walk consistently, your lay down point will be consistent and you give your ball the best chance to behave consistently on the lane. It would, of course, be better if you could train yourself to walk straight without taking a circuitous route to the foul line as that can become a complicating factor in your game. What if one time you step 2" left and the next time 6"? Can you compensate for that on the way to foul line?

I often see people standing on 25 or so and trying to play down the second arrow. The only way to get the ball over to the second arrow with that trajectory from so far left is to walk a lot to the right. This causes you to either pull the ball back across your body as you have walked too far to the right, or to miss your launch angle too far right because of the severity of the angle you are walking. Either way you lose. If you walked straight with the boards, you'd end up on 25, fifteen boards away from your intended target! You'd have to walk from 25 to 17 and then square up to the foul line to throw a shot down 10. Why make things so complicated?

If you watch bowling on television, you'll often see the pros looking down at their sliding foot to see where they have finished at the foul line. Contrary to popular belief, they are not checking to see if their name is on their shoe or if they fouled. They are doing this to learn valuable information.

  • If the shot worked: they want to know where they slid so they can slide there again.
  • If the shot didn't work: they want to know if it's because of where they slid and therefore where they laid the ball down.
  • If they slid where they intended and it didn't work: their intentions are wrong and it's time for a different think and an adjustment.
  • If they didn't slide where they intended: they won't be making an adjustment off a bad shot

Knowing where you slide is imperative to making good adjustments. If you make a bad shot and look down to see where you finished, what have you learned if you don't know how that finish position compares to good shots?

One caution here about checking out where you slide. Do it AFTER you have watched the ball make its way down the lane and through the pin deck. Your foot isn't going anywhere. You'll have time to look after you've paid attention to all the data your ball is giving you.