Don’t let your aim get in the way!
by Ron Clifton
Don’t let your aim get in the way of hitting your target line. Hitting your target line (or not) is decided when you take your first step and there is little you can do about it. You see, aiming at your target line does not help you hit it, but it does put you in a good position to notice if you hit it after the fact which is very important.
The path the ball takes after it leaves your hand is determined by the combination of your entire approach, armswing and release and very little by your eyesight. As a matter of fact, you can close your eyes at the top of your backswing and deliver the ball and be just as accurate. This is all assuming that your physical game is in good order and that you can repeat shots.
I had the opportunity to prove my theory one day while I was working with 5-time PBA champ Eric Forkel. I had noticed that Eric, who is left-handed, had become right-eye dominant in recent years and I wanted to know how that was affecting his aim. I told Eric to just pick a target line and start bowling while I stood on a chair behind him just off of the approach. Being high above and directly behind Eric, I could tell that every ball was hitting the 3rd arrow in the heads and the 7-board at the breakpoint on its way to the pocket.
With the base line targeting recorded, I told Eric to move his eyes two boards right without changing anything else. Again, several balls were thrown and the line was the same: 3rd arrow in the heads and 7 at the breakpoint. With that noted, I asked Eric to look two more boards right and continue bowling. Again, the ball followed the same path as before. I discovered that Eric could look as far as seven boards to the right before he began to miss his target. When Eric did miss from looking too far right, it was only because he had started to walk in the direction he was looking. This made him drift two boards to the right, so his line moved two boards to the right. He could not look as many boards to the left before his line changed, but that was because he was wrong eye dominant. If he were left eye dominant, his room for error would be more centered left and right before missing. Eric could also close his eyes at the top of the backswing and still nail the same target line, but I was already sure of that.
How is this possible? Remember I said before that the path the ball takes is determined by the entire approach and delivery and not so much by where you look. This does not mean, however, that you can’t alter your ball’s path. This is the reason I caution bowlers to look at their target without actually aiming at it. If you try to “make” the ball hit the target, you will generally pull the ball to the inside. A better idea is to look at the target and “trust” you are going to hit it. If you still miss, then there is a physical problem somewhere in your game.
Again, I do advocate that you keep your eye on your target as you bowl, but this is used more to keep your body in the right position to deliver the ball. If you throw three shots and look at your target on the first two but look up at the pins on the 3rd, your ball may travel a different path. The next time you are on the lanes, try just “trusting” that your ball will hit the target line and don’t try to force it to go there. You may be surprised how much more accurate you will become if you don’t let your aim get in the way.