Bowlers often have problems getting stable at the foul line.  It’s not unusual to see bowlers fall off to one side or pop up at the point of delivery.     I am not saying that every great bowler in the world is stable at the foul line but by far most are. It’s hard to be consistent if you are falling over as you release the ball.

            I believe if bowlers have a good solid finishing position, they are affected less by small mistakes made on the way to the foul line….especially small timing errors. Solid finishers can also cope better with less than ideal approaches that are too tacky or slick. Having a good knee bend to lower your center of gravity is of benefit here as well.

            So how do we develop a good finishing position? 
Start by leaving your ball on the rack and just walk up to the foul line and get in a picture-perfect finishing position. This will teach your body how it is supposed to look and feel as you deliver the ball.

            If you are right handed stand, with your feet side by side about 18 inches from the foul line. Now take your left foot and place it up in front of your right foot like you were going to measure something using the length of your two feet only offset your left foot so it is more in line with the big toe of your right foot. Your two feet should now be heel to toe in line with the front foot, offset to the left a little. All of your weight should be on the back foot.

            The next step is to shift your weight from the back foot (trail leg) to your left foot, (sliding foot) bending your knee in the process. After that, move your trail leg over so it’s a few inches left of your slide foot. If your slide foot hits the right spot, you should be able to lift your trail leg off of the floor and be able to balance on just that one foot.

             If you can balance there for a few seconds then you have found a position for your slide foot under your body’s center of gravity.. You will also find that if you bend your knee deeply you will lower your center of gravity and that will make it easier to stay balanced. Keep the toe of your slide foot pointed straight ahead or better yet turn your heel in a little. Turning the heel of your slide foot in will make you even more stable.

              Try to align your nose, knee, and toes so they form a straight line. You have to keep your weight centered in the center of your slide foot. If you let your nose get ahead of your toes, then you will transfer too much weight to the front part of your shoe and you will tend to stick. Likewise, if you lean back and place more weight on the heel of your slide foot your heel will dig in and you will stick.

            Finding this center position for your slide foot is very critical to being stable at the foul line. When you are making your approach you must STEP IN as you go into your slide in order for your foot to get back to this center position. You must practice this in order to get it right every time.

            The number one reason most people fall off their shot is that they don’t step in as they go into the slide. If your slide just follows the normal path you will end up just off center and you will fall over as you deliver that ball.

Special thanks to Andy Scott for allowing me to photograph him in some very bad bowling positions.

 In picture 1 Andy is going into his slide. The red arrows shows that his foot is going to continue straight ahead instead of stepping in.

Picture 1

The blue arrow shows where Andy's slide foot would have been had he stepped in to his center as he went into his slide.
 By not stepping in he will be forced to fall off to the right after he delivers the ball. This also causes too much space between the ball and his ankle. This causes a loss of leverage and accuracy.

Picture 2

 Andy now starts to fall over to the right after the release.

Picture 3

 There are players throughout history that have bowled very well by falling off the shot like this. Some are even in the Hall of Fame but most of them were well before the "Power Ball" era. 

Picture 4

In the next group of pictures Andy will do it the right way. 

 Here the bowler is going into his slide. He will step in to get under his center of gravity as his right foot pushes him forward.

 The red arrow shows the path the left foot was on. The blue arrow shows the step in path in order to get under the bowler's center of gravity. Notice that the heel of the slide foot is right in front of the big toe of the right foot just as I described in the drill above.

 The slide foot is now in it's finishing position under the bowler's center of gravity as the trail leg starts to swing to the side.  The ball is now much closer to the ankle for more leverage and control, The bowler is stable at the foul line.

For even more leverage and stability turn the heel in a little

For the best stability and leverage turn your heel in a little.

Heel turned in

Close up of heel turned in

 Turning the TOE in is a common cause of falling off the shot.
The next reason for falling off the shot is allowing the toes of your slide foot to turn in. For example, if you are right handed and playing a down and end shot but the toes of your slide foot are pointing at the right gutter, your foot is turned in. This is a very unstable position and you will tend to fall over and sometimes hop as you deliver the ball. It is far better to keep your toes pointed straight ahead or turn your heel in. Turning your heel in is not only more stable but will give you more leverage. Going back to our example, the toes of your slide foot would be pointing more toward the 7 pin when you complete your slide.

Another reason people fall off the shot is early timing. If your timing is too early, (meaning the ball is getting to the foul line too soon in relation to your foot work) you may tend to pop up or fall over at the foul line. Early timing will also cause you to throw weak balls with little rotation. “Pulling” the ball inside your target is one symptom of early timing.
Some bowlers put too much force into the ball near the bottom of the swing and that in turn puts torque into their bodies. This torque will turn their slide foot clockwise (right handed) as they release the ball and the bowler falls over.

Early timing

Here the bowler has reached the top of his backswing before he compresses in his next to last step. This will give him early timing.

For more information read my tip "Next to last step timing"

Because of the early timing Andy can not stay down at the foul line. Early timing may also cause the bowler to fall off to one side or pull the ball inside the target. This will also cause a weaker release.

Getting the nose ahead of the toes is another cause of falling off or popping up.

Andy doing it right

With his timing adjusted he is now at the top of his backswing as he compress in his next to last step.

Andy doing it right

The nose, knee and toes are all in a line. He stepped in with his slide foot to get under his center of gravity. His heel is turned in a little with a deep knee bend. 


This covers most of the reasons why bowlers have a hard time being stable at the foul line. Getting it right takes some practice but it’s worth it in the end.

            Be sure to check out my live bowlers’ chat room each night after 11 PM Eastern Time.

My email is rclifton@triad.rr.com