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                                                                          NEXT TO LAST STEP TIMING
     There have been many books written on how to throw a bowling ball. They all cover the subject of timing. Most, if not all, pretty much cover timing the same way. They say that bowling is based on a four step approach. That if you hold the ball around waist high. That you push the ball away from your body at the same time you take your first step and let the ball swing freely from the shoulder. The basic idea behind this is to counter balance the balls weight and motion with the opposite side of your body as you make your approach. These books go into great detail about  how your ball should be here, and your leg should be there, for each step. The problem is, this doesn't work for everyone. This system does not take into account that everyone's arms and legs are not the same length. Now it's obvious to everyone, that some people are taller than others, but the problem is not the height of the bowler but the ratio of the length of the arm vs the leg. Some people have long arms and short legs. Some have most of their height in their legs and short arms. With these people the "text book" way of doing things doesn't work out so well. If you have longer arms than legs, (ratio) you will have a longer swing cycle than someone  the same height but who's arms more closely match the length of their legs. The swing cycle is the amount of time it takes your ball to swing from first movement to the release. The longer your arm, the longer your swing cycle. So if your arms are longer than your legs, ratio wise, your legs will easily out run the swing cycle of your arm. If most of your bodies height is in your legs and you have shorter arms then you will have a shorter swing cycle. If these people try to do the "textbook" approach their timing will never work out right. The swing cycle of the arm will easily out run the natural pace of the legs.
It's a lot like putting tall tires on the right side of your car and two short tires on the
left side of your car and expect your car to roll straight and not pull to one side. There are other
factors that complicate this, other than the arm length to leg length ratio. Things like where you 
start your ball in the stance. What type of push away you have. How high your back swing is. Whether or not you force the ball in any direction.  What type of foot work you have. These all affect your swing cycle and hence your timing. I have most of my height in my legs. I can in some cases be 3 or 4inches taller than someone else and sit down beside them in a chair and they become taller than me. Try it, it's fun to see how people match up.
     The first thing you will notice when you visit a Tour stop and watch the best bowlers in the world, is that most of those guys forgot to read the book. Many of them take two or three steps before they move the ball. Their initial timing is nothing like the books say. You quickly find out when you study the game of bowling that there is no one way to do anything. There are some things that most of the best bowlers in the world have in common though. One is "next to last step timing". If you video tape the best bowlers you will see that most of them are near the top of their back swing when they compress on their next to last step. The guys that don't hook the ball a lot will be just a tic late at the top. Meaning that when they compress on the next 
to last step you would have time to say the word "FOOT" before the ball reaches the top. The players that hook the ball a lot will be later getting to the top of the swing. You would have time to say the word "Football" . Some are late enough that you could say it with a southern draw "Foootbaall". Yes there are even exceptions to this, but this will cover the majority of the best bowlers. 

Next to last step timing
When this bowler first compresses on his next to last step his ball is in the position where the graphic blue ball is in his back swing.  From that point I have time to say the word "football" before he actually reaches the peak of the back swing. This is a left handed bowler so a right handed bowler would be on the other foot of course.

Special thanks to 2 time PBA regional champion and Storm staffer Todd Masingo

     The best way to check your timing out is to have someone video tape you from the side as you bowl. Timing is a very complicated thing and can really affect your performance, but you can get yourself close by using this method. Try to work out your foot work and ball movement to meet at "next to last step". You can make your push away earlier or delay it to make your cycle work out right. If you have long arms and short legs its really hard to get your
timing to work out using only 4 steps. I suggest those bowlers try 5 steps and push the ball away at or near the same time you take your first step. You can also change the length of your first step to aid in getting your timing right. If you can't seem to work it out on your own, try visiting a professional coach, just make sure they understand that everyone is not built the same.

I can be contacted through email at rclifton@triad.rr.com or through Creekside Lanes 336-771-9800. 
Please email me if there are any tips you would like to see covered in the future.