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How High Should My Backswing Be in Bowling?

For many bowlers who are still looking to improve (and let’s not kid ourselves, who isn’t!?), the backswing is a frequent target of worry and at times confusion. Many ask how they can get a higher backswing. But this isn’t really the right question.

There’s no “correct” height for a bowling backswing, and I’ve heard someone compare that question to “what is the ideal shoe size?” which of course doesn’t make much sense.

A good thing to do with this type of question is to take a look at the professionals. PBA bowlers are all over the map on backswing height, ranging from below the shoulder to shoulder height to above the head.

So although there might not be a “one size fits” all answer, there are certainly variations among bowlers that can give you clues as to what size backswing will be best for a specific individual.

At is most basic level, a higher backswing will give you more speed, but you run the risk of sacrificing control, so you can weight those two factors in your game and determine if raising the height of your backswing might be beneficial. In a large many cases, accuracy is going to be the more important factor, which would call for a more modest backswing. Keep in mind that the simpler the motion, the easier it is to repeat, and an extra high backswing can put more stress on your body.

One such factor is the type of release you employ. A bowler who has a simple, standard release following through the back of the ball naturally accelerates his or her arm during the downswing so they can do fine with a relatively low backswing since their ball will already have enough speed. But compare that to bowlers who “snap” their ball during the release, a motion which doesn’t allow as much arm acceleration during the downswing. In these cases a higher backswing will help generate enough ball speed. Your rev rate is another factor, as a high rev bowler needs a higher ball speed to maintain control. This can be achieved from a higher backswing, but that isn’t the only way you can do it.

But overall when it comes to ideal backswing height in bowling, what feels natural to you is most likely going to be much more effective than anything else that you come up with after a detailed analysis. But do keep in mind what type of bowler you are, with regards to speed and revs.

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