Speed Control Part 1......How to throw the ball slower

     Ball speed is one of the most important factors in shooting high scores. Your ball speed must match up with the lane condition and the ball you are throwing at the time.  If the lanes are too slick for your ball speed, the ball will skid right past the break point. The break point is of course the spot on the lane where the ball needs to start griping the lane and start hooking toward the pocket. Think of the break point as the mouth of  a driveway that you need to turn your car into, and you are traveling on an icy road.  At the end of the driveway is a garage with a very narrow entrance that you must drive you car into. This garage entrance is the pocket to the pins that we need to hit in order to throw a strike.  If your ball speed is too high, just like your car is traveling too fast on the icy road, it can't make the turn at the break point and drive toward the pocket. 
     So if our ball speed is too high for the condition how do we slow it down? A lot depends on your bowling style. If you use a fairly free arm swing, adjusting ball speed is much easier. If you use a very muscled arm swing, where you tend to really pull the ball down from the top of the back swing, adjusting ball speed may be harder for you. As I have said many times, there is no one way to bowl.  But here are some things that I have found that work for most people. Number one, unless you already hold the ball very low in your stance, lower your ball. If you only need to slow your ball speed a small amount then  lower your ball two or three  inches. If you need to lower your ball speed a lot, then lower the ball 8 to 10 inches in your stance. It can also help to bend your knees a little.  
     The next thing is to move up on the approach about the same amount that you lowered the ball. When you lower the ball in order to throw it slower, you are changing your swing cycle, the amount of time it takes the ball to go from first motion to the release. Even though you are throwing the ball slower, the ball may complete the swing cycle quicker than before, because the ball is not traveling as far. I have found that for a lot of people moving up on the approach will keep them in time. Your brain knows that it is closer to the foul line and it will compress and slow the steps the correct amount. You will have to practice this and see how well it works for you. You may find that you have to move up a little more or less to keep your timing correct. If you really practice this you can change your ball speed in very small degrees. 
     Some lane conditions require us to only slow our speed a little, while a flooded condition my require us to cut our normal speed almost in half.  I suggest practicing your slowest ball speed often, if you are a bowler going out and competing at a high level.  Flooded lane conditions are very rare  and you will not be ready if you don't make throwing the ball slow part of your normal practice routine.  If you already hold the ball low in your stance or tend to force the ball a lot,  try just moving up on the approach a little. Try to think of your hand as a passenger on the ball just along for the ride and not a engine  that's pushing the ball forward. When you are trying to throw the ball really slow it's important that you not do a strong follow through. All you need is the momentum of your arm swing going through the ball. A strong follow through or an attempt to rev the ball more, will only result in more forward momentum and the ball will skid farther and be less controllable. A good way to practice slow ball speeds, is to throw a plastic ball if you have one, and try to make it hook more and more by throwing it slower and slower. 
     Next month I will cover throwing the ball with greater speed than normal. 
I can be contacted through email at rclifton@triad.rr.com  
Bowl Great!