Bowling isn’t as simple as tossing a ball and watching the pins fall. It’s a skill that takes practice to master, and as the saying goes – practice makes perfect. Of course, there are proper techniques you can employ to help you on your way to conquering the lanes. Try these tips to improve your aim for a top-notch game.

Bowling strikeThe first ingredient to a streak of strikes is the right ball. Heavier balls provide an advantage to lighter balls as they will often knock the pins into each other instead of just shooting them off the lane. Many pros recommend a 14.5 – 15 lb. ball for increasing the odds of throwing a strike. You can read more about ball choice here.

The most critical element to consistent strikes is aim. Informed bowlers aim for the “pocket”. This involves a slightly angled toss between the one-pin and three-pin for right-handers; between the one-pin and two-pin for left-handers. To achieve a strike, the goal is for the pins to hit each other, and this target has the best chance of collapsing the outer pins into the inner pins they frame.

Proper aim requires an understanding of the tools in place for your alignment. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually aim for the pins. Approximately 15 feet past the foul line, you’ll find a row of small arrows on the floor. Align your feet with the center arrow, and aim your ball between the second and third arrow from the side of the dominant, throwing hand.

The rows of dots on the floor help you align your positioning on the approach. The four-step approach is the recommendation of the pros. As you make your approach, the build-up to your throw is key. On the backswing, your arm should remain straight and close to your body, with your hand reaching shoulder-level. Align your left foot just to the right of the middle dot if you’re a leftie – just to the left of center if you’re a righty, and prepare for the “power step”.

The power step is the second-to-last step in the four-step approach that precedes the release of the ball. Your forward-stepping foot should align with your throwing hand, with your leg bending slightly before the final lunge forward to toss.

At this final step, release the ball at the bottom of the downswing. To add that strike-inducing hooking curve, rotate your thumb slightly (to a 10 o’clock position for right-handers, and a 2 o’clock position for left-handers) at the release. Once you release the ball, follow-through with your throw until your arm is in position above your head.

While there is no recipe to guarantee a perfect game, learning these basic techniques will help you to master the pattern that leads to lane domination.