Some bowlers like to curve the ball, but others prefer being straight shooters. If you can’t get the hang of the hook, or you’re simply more comfortable rolling the ball straight, you can still knock ‘em down if you use the correct form. Follow a few bowling tips for straight bowlers to improve your average.
A heavier ball will continue on a more direct path after hitting the pins, while a lighter ball is more likely to be deflected. That's why you should use the heaviest ball you can handle when you’re throwing straight. If a right-hander strikes the 1-3 pocket, for example, a lighter ball is less likely to hit the 5-pin, and much less likely to strike the 8, because it’ll be deflected to the right after hitting the head pin. Additionally, you may try to throw a lighter ball harder, to make up for its lack of power, which can force you off-balance and decrease your accuracy.
Executing your throw for each frame should begin by releasing the ball from the side of the lane. If you’re right-handed, release the ball close to the right gutter. If you release the ball from the middle of the lane and strike the first pin head-on, you’re likely to produce a split, leaving yourself an almost impossible spare.
Angling your shoulders a bit toward your target will help with alignment. On a first ball, for example, if your shoulders are square with the foul line, your body moves straight ahead while your arm angles to the left to throw the ball toward the pocket. Angling your shoulders a bit to the left lets your body and arm move in the same direction, resulting in a smoother arm swing.
After you’ve found a comfortable spot to begin your approach, observe your ball as it rolls toward the pocket and see which of the lane’s arrows it rolls over. Take particular note of which arrow it touches when you throw a strike, then aim for that arrow in the future. It’s easier to be accurate when you aim at a closer target. Once you’ve chosen a target, always follow through directly along your target line. Right-handers typically aim for the first arrow to the right of the center mark.
If you don’t throw a strike, adjust your stance on your second ball, depending on which pins are standing. If a single pin remains you can use the lane’s arrows as targets. For example, the middle arrow corresponds with the 5-pin. So if you leave the 5 standing, throw the ball parallel with the gutters -- rather than from an angle -- and try to hit the middle arrow. Throw across the lane to hit the edge pins, particularly the 7 and 10. A right-hander throwing straight for the 10 pin, for example, has less margin for error because the ball can fall into the gutter. Instead, stand toward the left of the lane and roll the ball at an angle.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.