Swing Paths

Part 3

by Ron Clifton


Welcome to part 3 of “Swing Paths”. If you missed parts 1 and 2, you can find them on my website www.bowl4fun.com. In part 2 we took a look at two different bowlers that did the same pushaway and got two different results. That is because everyone is different; we all have different amounts of tension in our arms and grips. All of us are shaped differently and vary greatly in size and weight.

 I could preach all day long about the “proper” way to do things which would help some people; but most bowlers are not machines, so they don’t need me to build them an armswing for a machine.  Nope, we want the swing path that works best for you. You would be surprised how much bowlers’ perception of “straight out” varies. Many times I have told a bowler to push the ball toward the 7 pin in the pushaway only to see him push straight ahead. I actually count on these miss-perceptions when I am coaching.

Our Goal: If you are going to change your swing path for the better, you have to be willing to experiment. You have to keep trying different swing paths until you find the one that works best for the line you need to play. Remember, your swing path must meet the 4 criteria laid out in part one of “Swing Paths”.

1. Allow you to hit both targets consistently

2. Repeat the swing time after time

3. Must not stress the arm or shoulder.

4. Bring the ball close to the ankle


If you find one or more swing paths that meet all 4 of the criteria above, you have a winner.

How do you change your swing path? The first change to try is the direction of your pushaway. Hold the ball in your normal starting position and throw 4 shots pushing the ball toward the 7-pin in your pushaway. Don’t worry too much at this point how your armswing feels, just look at the ball path the new pushaway creates. Next, do 4 more shots and push the ball toward the 10-pin. You will get a result that totally differs from the first 4 shots… believe me.

Did I mention that everyone is different? I have no idea what result you will get when you try any of these changes; the same change can have two totally different effects on any two bowlers. The next experiment I want you to try is changing the starting position of the ball. Even though most of the experts in the world have told you to start the ball in front of your shoulder, I want you to try something different.

I want you to hold the ball right in front of your belly button as illustrated by photo #4:

     Hold most of the weight of the ball (100% if you can) in your non-bowling hand and do the pushaway with your non-bowling hand. Push straight out for 4 shots and see what kind of swing path you get. I know what you are thinking: if you hold the ball in front of your belly button and push straight out, the ball will run into you when it drops into the swing. There you go applying logic to bowling again.

I won’t take the time required to explain why this works, but believe me, it does…for a lot of people. It has more to do with human nature than geometry. After you have thrown 4 shots pushing straight out, then try 4 shots pushing the ball toward the 7-pin and toward the 10-pin.

There is a good chance that one of these experiments will help you build a better swing path. You must try them all in order to find the path that works best for you. I suggest you try each change while trying to play a deep line and each change while playing down the boards. You may end up with two different swing paths depending on the line you are playing.

I have tried to simplify a very complicated subject and come up with some experiments that the average bowler and try. The swing path you come up with needs to be smooth and natural or you will not be able to repeat it. Good luck with your new swing.


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