Swing Paths

Part 2

by Ron Clifton

In part 1 of “Swing Paths”, I defined the swing path this way: “The swing path is the route your ball takes as it travels from the initial point of movement to the release point.” I also stated that every bowler is different and that every bowler’s swing path is different; just like fingerprints, no two are exactly alike.
           To further review part one of “Swing Paths”, I listed 4 objectives that the swing path must accomplish:

1.   Allow you to hit both targets consistently. (In the heads and breakpoint)

2.   Repeat the swing, time after time.

3.   Don’t cause any stress on the arm or shoulder.

4.   Bring the ball close to the ankle at the point of release.


So now that we know our objectives…

Why change your swing path? If your swing does not allow you to accomplish the 4 objectives listed above, then you need to try a new swing path. In the case of #1 “Allow you to hit both targets consistently”, you may actually need two different swing paths. If you are able to both hook the ball a lot and throw it fairly straight, you may find two swing paths very helpful. One path would allow you to play deep inside in the heads and way outside at the breakpoint. Another swing path would allow you to play straight down the boards.

Many of the “How to Bowl” books tell us to do it the way it is illustrated in photo #1:

1.      Start the ball in front of the shoulder in the stance.

2.      With the first step, push the ball straight out (4 step approach) and allow it to drop.

3.      With the 2nd step, let the ball swing freely into the backswing

4.      When the 3rd step arrives, the ball should be at the top of the backswing still perfectly aligned with the pushway.

5.      The 4th step ends in a slide and the ball is released on that perfect line created by the original pushaway.



                  This works just fine for a small number of bowlers, but for the majority, it is easier said than done. In part #1 of “Swing Paths” I listed more than a dozen reasons why the swing path may not follow this line, but remember, the key is “everyone is different”.

A complicated subject: I have resisted writing about this subject until now because it can get so complicated. There must be over one hundred reasons why swings go wrong and nearly as many cures. I thought it would be helpful for my readers if I covered a few basics and encouraged them to experiment a little with their swing paths:

Pushaway direction: The direction of the pushaway is one of the key factors that fashion the shape of the swing path. I know, I know, the book said push straight out, but not everyone does that, nor should they. Many bowlers “think” they push the ball straight out from the shoulder, but actually push the ball more toward the outside. In some cases, it is better if the bowler pushes the ball in a different direction from straight out.

Photos #2 and #3 show two possible swing paths created by the same pushaway direction, but by two different bowlers.


Photo #2 shows a bowler pushing the ball a little to the outside when performing the pushaway. This causes the ball to swing back behind the bowler’s back. From that point, logic will dictate that the ball will tend follow a line that takes it to the outside of the bowler’s intended target. But who ever said that logic applies to bowlers? The actual line the ball will follow depends on many other factors, including: how free the armswing is, the shape of the bowlers arm, and the release timing. Remember I said everyone is different? Also don’t think for a second, this is the only reason bowlers wrap balls behind their backs…there are many others.

Photo #3 shows a possible swing path from a different bowler using the same pushaway illustrated in photo #2.


For some bowlers, when they push the ball to the outside, it stays outside. This can cause more problems than most swing paths. For some bowlers, it makes them “pull” the ball inside their target. For other bowlers, the ball manages to stay on line, but the ball is too far from the ankle at the release point. This can cause the bowler to lose axis rotation and tilt. In both cases, the bowlers would be well served to work out a different swing path for a more consistent and powerful game.

Part 3 of “Swing Paths comes in the next issue, so make sure you save copies of #1 and #2 so you can refer back to them. Be sure to check out my website www.bowl4fun.com for more tips and details as well as a live bowlers’ chat room each night after 11P.M. Eastern Time. My email is rclifton@triad.rr.com