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5 Most Common Bowling Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Even after reading through all of our bowling articles, things won’t always go 100% according to plan. Even though every bowler develops a style of his or her own, an overwhelming percentage of bowlers tend to encounter many of the same pitfalls.

This article will go over 5 of the most common problems beginners encounter with their bowling shot and what you need to do to avoid them.

1. Improper Stance or Pushaway

A good bowling armswing is straight back and forth, like a pendulum. There are two common things many bowlers do instead, which negatively affects the results of their shot.

First, a significant percentage of bowlers to want to hold the bowling ball in the middle of their chest when they’re in the stance. If the ball is this far inside, you’re forced to move your arm sideways and back around your body for the backswing. This will throw everything out of whack.

Instead, hold the ball out to the side of your body (on the same side as your bowling hand) so you can swing straight back and forth.

Similarly, on the pushaway (the initial forward extension of your arm that goes along with the first step), many bowlers point to one side instead of straight out towards their target. This also has a detrimental effect on the armswing because the arm has to come back sideways during the backswing.

2. Drifting With Your Feet

Other times, everything seems to be going fine with your delivery, but the ball just does not seem to be lined up right. If this is the case, you’ll want to check if you might be drifting.

Drifting means that your starting point is one board, but you end up on a different board at the foul line at the release. In other words, you have “drifted” to one side or the other.

To correct this, set yourself at your starting point and make a practice approach without the ball. Then look down and see if you end up on the same board. You can have one of your lane mates take a look and see if you are going in a crooked pattern. Try not to look down in the middle of a shot, though, as this can mess up other areas of your delivery.

3. Too Fast on the Approach and Delivery

Another big problem for a many bowlers is the speed of their approach and delivery. For some reason, everyone seems to be in a huge hurry to throw the ball!

Bowlers who make their steps too quickly to the foul line are usually off balance, rushed and they have an inconsistent release.

If you watch a professional, you will see that everything is slow and deliberate and they never unnecessarily hurry the delivery. You don’t need to run up fast to generate power, so take your time and watch your shots improve.

4. Dropping the Ball on the Release

In an ideal bowling shot, the bowling ball is released just past the foul line. Many bowlers, however, mess up their timing and end up letting go too early. This results in them dropping the ball hard on the lane instead of smoothly releasing it.

To correct this, be sure you aren’t releasing the ball from your hand before your foot starts to slide on its final step and make sure you have reached the foul line.

You might not even be aware that you’re dropping the ball, but have a friend watch and check where it first touches the lane surface. If it is before the foul line, you know you need to work on your timing.

5. Lofting the Ball on the Release

Finally, many bowlers loft the ball out so it lands hard on the lane surface. This is a big problem because it will be nearly impossible to control.

If your bowling ball is hitting down on the lane three or more feet out past the foul line, you are getting way too much loft. Don’t feel like you need to “throw” the ball like in other sports to generate your power; the pendulum motion and finger lift are all you need.

It’s likely you are lofting the ball because your release is too late (the opposite of #4). Be sure to remove the thumb right when your foot is sliding to the foul line and follow with your remaining two fingers a split second afterward.

Also, the problem may be that your bowling ball is improperly fitted to your hand. This makes it tough to remove your finger at the right time, leading to excessive loft. Be sure to talk to someone at the pro shop if you think this might be the case.

(Read our guide to choosing the right bowling ball)

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7 Responses to 5 Most Common Bowling Mistakes and How to Fix Them
  1. bowling dude
    October 10, 2011 | 6:30 pm

    I’m usually having problem with my stance and balance when throwing a heavy ball. I’d tried different techniques but it seems it is not working on me. Any idea about that? Thanks!

    • Joseph (BBT Writing Staff)
      September 13, 2013 | 5:41 pm

      First I’d wonder if the ball you are using might be a little too heavy. It should never be so heavy as to be uncomfortable, and you should always be able to have a free and relaxed armswing. You should make sure to use a full backswing and remain stable as you begin your downswing and not force it. Think of the motion as like a pendulum. Overall, a heavy ball can sometimes be an advantage in knocking down more pins but you shouldn’t always think that heavier is better.

  2. simone
    August 19, 2014 | 10:36 am

    I am pretty good at getting the balls straight down the alley. Lately just when my ball is going forward toward just left of the head pin, all of a sudden it curves sharply the the right. Help
    many thanks

    • cruxstrike300
      May 25, 2015 | 11:26 pm

      You need to turn ur hand anti-clockwise but what you are doing is turning it clockwise, hence you get what we call – a backup ball

  3. pete
    March 29, 2015 | 1:00 am

    hey i am always lofting the ball too much. its landing like 3-5 feet ahead of the foul line. i see the pros barely using any loft at all. how do i correct this. email me at if you know the answer

  4. Judy
    August 2, 2016 | 8:14 am

    Hi – I want to know why I might be dropping my bowl on the back swing? I have a 12 lb ball and bought it back in my 40s. I am now 62 and want to start bowling again but when I went to bowl I ended up continually dropping the ball as if it were too heavy-could it be too heavy? Also I have had surgery 2 years ago on the same hand I bowl with so possibly it changed my grip? Or I’m just weaker with age? Suggestions?

  5. Dakota Bonesteel
    January 8, 2018 | 1:58 pm

    I’m an average once a week league bowler. I carry an average of 175-285. My issue is I have a hop at the end of my approach. Any advice would be appreciated.

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