You are currently viewing How to Properly Throw a Bowling Ball: A Comprehensive Guide to Improve Your Scores in 2024

How to Properly Throw a Bowling Ball: A Comprehensive Guide to Improve Your Scores in 2024

  • Reading time:12 mins read

Bowling may seem like a simple game, but mastering the proper technique for throwing a bowling ball is crucial for improving your accuracy, ball control, and overall scoring.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to build a strong foundation or an experienced player trying to fine-tune your skills, understanding the ins and outs of a correct bowling ball throw can make all the difference on the lanes.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the key elements of a proper bowling ball throw, from selecting the right equipment to executing each step of the delivery with precision.

We’ll cover common mistakes to avoid, provide targeted drills and exercises, and equip you with the knowledge you need to take your bowling game to the next level. So, grab your favorite ball, lace up your shoes, and let’s dive in!

Preparing to Throw the Bowling Ball

Selecting the Right Bowling Ball

The first step to perfecting your throwing technique is choosing the right bowling ball. The weight and size of the ball should be tailored to your individual strength, hand size, and skill level.

As a general rule of thumb, the ball should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight, but it’s important to find a weight that you can comfortably control and maneuver.

When selecting a ball, consider factors such as:

  • Hand size: Ensure the ball’s finger holes are properly sized to fit your fingers snugly, with about a thumb’s width of space between the tips of your fingers and the holes.
  • Strength and experience: Beginners may want to start with a lighter ball (8-10 lbs) to develop proper form, while more experienced players can typically handle heavier weights (12-16 lbs).
  • Ball composition: Balls can be made of a variety of materials, including plastic, urethane, and reactive resin. Each type offers different levels of hook potential and durability, so choose based on your desired ball motion and playing style.

Once you’ve found the right ball, it’s time to focus on your stance and body positioning.

Stance and Body Positioning

Establishing a solid, balanced stance is crucial for maintaining control and accuracy throughout your bowling delivery. Start by positioning your feet approximately shoulder-width apart, with your dominant foot slightly ahead of the other. Keep your knees bent and your weight evenly distributed between both feet.

As you prepare to throw, hold the ball at waist level with your arm extended, your elbow pointing out to the side, and your wrist locked in a straight, neutral position. Ensure your shoulders are square to the foul line, and keep your eyes focused on your target throughout the entire throw.

Maintaining this balanced, upright stance will help you generate power and stability, ultimately leading to more consistent and accurate throws.

The 5-Step Bowling Ball Throwing Technique

Now that you’ve got the right equipment and a solid starting position, let’s dive into the key steps of the bowling ball throwing technique.

Step 1: The Approach

The approach is the initial phase of your delivery, where you build momentum and prepare to release the ball. There are two common approaches in bowling: the 4-step and the 3-step.

The 4-step approach is often recommended for beginners, as it provides more time and control during the delivery. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, take four steps forward (left-right-left-right for right-handed bowlers, or right-left-right-left for left-handed bowlers), and release the ball on the fourth step.

The 3-step approach is typically used by more experienced players, as it allows for a quicker, more powerful delivery. In this method, you’ll take three steps (left-right-left for right-handed, or right-left-right for left-handed) and release the ball on the third step.

Regardless of the approach you choose, focus on maintaining a consistent rhythm and timing throughout the steps. Avoid rushing or hesitating, as this can lead to inconsistent ball release and decreased accuracy.

Step 2: The Backswing

As you complete your approach, your next step is the backswing. This is the phase where you’ll bring the ball back, preparing for the release.

There are two main types of backswings: the straight backswing and the curved backswing. The straight backswing involves keeping your arm and the ball in a straight, vertical line as you bring it back. The curved backswing, on the other hand, involves a more natural, arched motion, with your arm and the ball following a curved path.

Regardless of the type of backswing you choose, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Maintain a firm, consistent grip on the ball throughout the backswing.
  • Keep your arm and wrist relaxed, but avoid excessive bending or flexing.
  • Ensure your backswing is smooth and controlled, without any sudden movements or jerks.
  • Coordinate the timing of your backswing with the steps of your approach for a seamless transition.

A well-executed backswing will set the stage for a powerful and accurate release.

Step 3: The Release

The release is the critical moment when you let go of the ball and send it on its way to the pins. Proper hand and finger positioning at the point of release is essential for achieving the desired ball motion and direction.

As you reach the point of release, focus on the following:

  • Maintain a firm, consistent grip with your thumb and fingers in the ball’s holes.
  • Keep your wrist straight and locked, avoiding any significant bending or flexing.
  • Release the ball smoothly, with your fingers exiting the ball in a straight, downward motion.
  • Time the release to coincide with the final step of your approach, allowing for a natural, fluid motion.

The goal is to release the ball with control and precision, imparting the desired amount of spin and hook to guide it towards the target pins.

Step 4: The Follow-Through

The follow-through is the final phase of the bowling ball delivery, and it’s just as important as the other steps. A proper follow-through not only helps you maintain balance and control, but it also reinforces the mechanics of your throw.

As you release the ball, continue the momentum of your swing by extending your arm fully and allowing your body to rotate naturally. Keep your eyes focused on the target, and resist the urge to immediately look down the lane to see where the ball is going.

Maintain your balanced, upright stance throughout the follow-through, avoiding any sudden movements or jerks. This will help you stay centered and ready to repeat the process on your next throw.

Step 5: Targeting and Aim

The final piece of the puzzle is aligning your throw with the desired target – the pins. Proper targeting and aim are essential for sending the ball down the lane with accuracy and precision.

To improve your targeting, start by identifying your target pins – typically the 1 pin (for right-handed bowlers) or the 10 pin (for left-handed bowlers). Focus your gaze on this target, and use visual cues along the lane, such as the arrows or the foul line, to help you align your ball’s trajectory.

As you execute your throw, adjust your aim by making small, subtle adjustments to your stance, hand positioning, or the direction of your backswing. Experiment with different targeting techniques, such as aiming for a specific spot on the lane or visualizing the ball’s path, to find what works best for your style and skill level.

Remember, accurate targeting is a skill that takes time and practice to develop, so be patient with yourself and keep refining your technique.

Common Throwing Mistakes and How to Correct Them

Even the most experienced bowlers can occasionally struggle with certain aspects of their throwing technique. Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes and how to address them.

Releasing the Ball Too Early or Late

Releasing the ball at the wrong time can cause significant issues with ball control and accuracy. If you release the ball too early, you may end up with a straight, uncontrolled shot that misses the target. Releasing too late, on the other hand, can lead to a rushed, off-balance delivery.

To correct this, focus on timing your release to coincide with the final step of your approach. Experiment with your rhythm and footwork to find the sweet spot that allows for a smooth, consistent release.

Improper Wrist and Hand Positioning

Incorrect hand and wrist positioning can negatively impact your ball’s rotation, spin, and overall trajectory. Common issues include a bent wrist, excessive grip pressure, or improper finger placement in the ball’s holes.

To address these problems, pay close attention to your hand and wrist positioning throughout the delivery. Ensure your wrist is straight and locked, your grip is firm but not overly tight, and your fingers are properly inserted into the ball’s holes.

Failure to Maintain Balance and Control

Losing your balance or control during the delivery can result in erratic, off-target throws. This may be due to rushing the approach, failing to properly engage your core and leg muscles, or not adjusting your stance to accommodate changes in ball weight or lane conditions.

To improve your balance and control, focus on maintaining a stable, centered stance throughout the entire delivery. Engage your core muscles, keep your eyes on the target, and make any necessary adjustments to your approach or footwork to maintain a smooth, controlled throw.

Drills and Exercises to Improve Throwing Technique

Mastering the proper bowling ball throwing technique takes time and dedicated practice. To help you along the way, here are some targeted drills and exercises you can incorporate into your training regimen:

Slow-Motion Drills

Performing your delivery in slow motion can help you identify and correct any flaws in your technique. Try executing each step of the throw – the approach, backswing, release, and follow-through – at a slower pace, focusing on maintaining proper form and control.

Targeting and Aim Practice

Set up a series of targets or markers on the lane, and practice throwing the ball with the goal of hitting specific spots. This will help you refine your targeting skills and improve your ability to adjust your aim based on the ball’s trajectory.

Strength and Flexibility Exercises

Incorporate exercises that target the muscle groups used in bowling, such as your core, shoulders, and legs. This will help you develop the strength and flexibility needed to maintain proper form and generate more power in your throws.

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to improving your bowling technique. Dedicated practice, coupled with a willingness to identify and correct any issues, will be the keys to taking your game to the next level.


Mastering the art of properly throwing a bowling ball is a journey, but one that can greatly enhance your enjoyment and success on the lanes. By focusing on the key elements of equipment selection, stance and body positioning, the 5-step throwing technique, and targeted practice, you’ll be well on your way to developing a smooth, consistent, and accurate delivery.

Remember, bowling is a sport that requires patience, dedication, and a willingness to continuously refine your skills. Embrace the process, celebrate your progress, and most importantly, have fun as you work towards becoming a better bowler.

So, grab your ball, lace up your shoes, and get ready to unleash the power of a properly executed bowling ball throw. The pins are waiting, and your next strike is just a throw away.