Kickball for Strikes & Spares

by Ron Clifton


     If you read my articles on a regular basis or attended any of the clinics I put on across America you will know that I believe in playing a line. I mean a literal line that takes your ball from point “A” to point “B”.

      If you attend a basic geometry class the very first thing the instructor tells you is that it takes two points to make a line. A single point can be crossed in any direction; therefore a single point is not very useful in giving us a direction to travel.

Most bowlers will tell you that they are playing a line but in most cases it is simply not true. They are playing a single “spot”, “target” or “mark” but not a line. Phrases like “down the second arrow” or across the third arrow” are not a line. The only reason these terms give us any general direction at all is because the lane is only so wide and we assume that the bowler is trying to keep it between the gutters.

It is ok if you want to use the third arrow as point “A” in your line but you need a point “B” to truly have a line to play.

Where does point “B” come from?

If you hook the ball and are trying to throw a strike, point “B” should be a predetermined board at your breakpoint. If you throw the ball dead straight then point “B” would be the pocket. If you are just making a single pin spare then point “B” will be the pin it’s self assuming you have learned not to hook at spares.

I have written extensively on breakpoints and using them as part of your targeting system so I am not going to rehash it here. If you missed the articles you will find the 3 part series called "Breakpoints and Drawing Lines on the Lane" in the Article Archive section of

My goal in this article is to teach you how to figure out where to slide in order to play a line or make a spare. To do this I am gong to call on a childhood game that most of us have played called Kickball.

There are two important things to remember when lining up. #1 you must slide on the proper board at the foul line. #2 once at the foul line you must face the right direction for your swing path to follow the intended line. Failure to do ether #1 or #2 will cause you to miss


Let’s say we want to lean where to slide in order to make a spare like the 4-7 if we are right handed. Let’s also say that we want to use the 2nd arrow as our point “A”. Walk up to the foul line and look at the 4-7 and draw an imaginary line from the left side of the 4 pin back through the 2nd arrow as in photo #1.

Now we get out our imaginary “Kickball” and place it on the foul line. Our goal is to stand at the foul line and kick our imaginary “kickball” down that line we are drawing from the 4-7 back through the 2nd arrow. If we gently kick our “air ball” across the 2nd arrow to the spot on the 4 pin we wish to hit (point “B” in photo 2) we will learn where to slide and face.

If you look down at your left foot it will be on the board it would need to slide on in order to actually throw a ball down our imaginary line. This exercise will also show us the direction we will need to be facing once we get to the line.


If we are looking to play a strike line that takes us from 3rd arrow (point “A”) to a breakpoint of the 7 board at 40 feet (point “B”) we will need another imaginary line. We draw this one from our breakpoint (“B”) back through the 3rd arrow (“A”) to our imaginary kickball while we are standing at the foul line.

If we position our feet like we would if we were going to kick the ball down the line then that places our slide foot on the proper board to end on. This also gives us an idea of the direction we will have to be facing in order to make our breakpoint. (photo #3)


Note that this little “kickball” exercise only tells us where we need to slide in order to play the line. It does not tell us where we need to start our approach. Because everyone has a different drift pattern you will have to make a few approaches to determine where to stand in order to slide on the proper board. Some adjustments may have to be made if you are “wrong” eye dominant as well.

Bowl great!