High Plains Drifter
 Part One 

      Just about everyone has their on style of approach. Most people drift towards the inside of the lane when they walk. Some bowlers have learned to do this on purpose, while others have just turned out that way. There are several reasons why some bowlers and coaches believe this inside drift is best. Some bowlers wander all over the place as they go to the line. Still others drift differently depending on what line they are playing. Whether or not I think drifting is a good or bad idea is a whole other article. Keep in mind that when I say drift, I mean the bowler does not walk in a straight line. You can walk caddy corner across the approach and still be walking in a straight line.
     The most important thing, whether you drift or walk straight, is you must do it the same every time for the same shot line. If you start your approach standing on the 20 board with your slide foot, and end up on the 25 board at the foul line, then you need to end up on that same board every time. Playing the same line, you can't end up on 25 one shot, 27 on the next shot and 26 on the next. If you do, each of those shots will result in a different path to the pins. At the very least you are looking at some single pin leaves on balls that you thought should have been strikes. Yes you may be able to twist your body around and hit your target at the arrows while varying your approach 3 boards. But it is your accuracy at the break point that will really suffer. Granted on some of the easier, walled up league shots, you may get away with "spraying" the ball that much and still get to the pocket. On a strong wet - dry condition, where it is very wet in the middle and dry on the outside your carry will suffer greatly. If you ever bowl a megabucks tournament, or try any level of the PBA you will have very limited success if you end up on a different board each time. Bowling in those events, where the oil patterns are flatter, and accuracy is a must, you will be looking at wash-outs and big fours not strings of strikes. This variance in the drift pattern is often overlooked when players are having a hard time getting the ball to the pocket. Most better bowlers take great care to start their approach on exactly the same board each time. Some even go down to the half board. They know they would not fare too well, if they started their approach on a different board every shot. But I have found that very few bowlers think about the other end of the approach. Ending up on a different board each time, is exactly the same as starting out on a different board each time. I can ask a player what board the started on and most of the time they can tell me. But if  I ask what board they ended up on most have no idea.
      So how do we know if we end up on a different board each time? It's easy, just look. Go up and throw a few shots.
Make note of what board you started on and what board your sliding foot ended up on at the foul line. Do this with a line 
that crosses the 2nd arrow. Throw a whole game and write down what board you ended up on each time. Do this same test with 3 different types of shots. The first will be a normal 2nd arrow shot. The second should be a straight down and in shot over the 1st arrow. The third should be a deep inside shot with the ball hooking as many boards as you can.
     Write down your drift pattern for each type of shot. You need to know your drift pattern for planning a line anyway. If you find out you don't end up on the same board each time, then you've got some work to do. Just as bowlers have a pre-shot routine where they may wipe off their ball and maybe juggle their dry sack....they need to start a post-shot routine. While still standing at the foul line they need to make note of the break point the ball just hit, the board at the arrows the ball just crossed and what board their slide foot ended up on.
     Be sure to watch for part 2. Part 2 will give you some ideas on how to end up at the same spot each time and how to learn to walk straight if you wish. Also part 2 will show you how your drift pattern can make you miss your target as
you move deeper chasing the oil.       Link to Part 2

Bowl Great!!