Developing a Sound Targeting System

June 2023

This month’s “Bill’s Tip of the Month” expands on the spot bowling question in this month’s May/June, 1994 Bowling Digest featured column.

Developing a sound targeting system for your game is fundamental to developing consistency. It’s not about hitting a spot—it’s about getting the ball to travel the correct direction down the lane in relationship to how the oil pattern dictates the lane to be played.

The easiest and best way to do this has always been to use the arrows and the boards between them. You first need to know the lane and approach by board numbers because they will give you reference points that are vital in making logical adjustments.

Knowing the basic math of adjustments using the approach and lane board numbers will give you an idea how much you should be adjusting. If you move your feet one board left and keep your target at the arrows on the same board the effective adjustment is 3 boards at 60 feet, which is the distance the head pin is from the foul line. That one board move with your feet creates an angle change that your ball travels through your target. If your ball continues on that angle change it would go 1 board to the right at 30 feet, then 2 boards right at 45 feet and then end up 3 boards right at 60 feet. Now if you move your target 1 board right and keep your feet in the same place the effective adjustment is 4 boards--One at 15 feet, 2 at 30 feet, 3 at 45 feet then end up 4 at 60 feet.

You don’t have to see your ball hit a spot—you need to see your ball early enough traveling down the lane to understand what your ball is doing then make logical adjustments based on your ball reaction. That’s why understanding the basic math of your adjustments is imperative—you make your adjustments based on mathematical facts—not from guessing what to do.

There has always been talk about the pros targeting 40 to 50 feet down the lane. When a player does that, it’s only used to pick out a destination they want their ball to get to at their break point. But they always draw their eyes to a closer target which normally is at the arrows—some pros such as Pete Weber, Liz Johnson and Wes Malott even continue all the way to the foul line.

The more you can take guess work out of our game, the higher the probability your scores will increase. Until you know the basic math of adjustments you really can’t progress to the next level of lane play.


Wrist issues? Add a gripping hole

May 2023

This month’s “Bill’s Tip of the Month” expands on the extra finger hole question in this month’s October, 1997 Bowling Digest featured column. The following is Bill’s follow-up to his 1997 column.

One question I get asked frequently is “What can I do about a sore wrist and what will help it without having to stop bowling”? So when I decided to add a “Tip of the Month” to my monthly newsletter, I was happy to see this question addressed in my October, 1997 Bowling Digest.

Totally coincidentally BOWL-TV’s Analyst Craig Elliott asked me the same thing when I did some guest live-streaming commentary on BOWL-TV last month during the PBA World Series of Bowling in Wauwatosa, WI. The conversation developed with him and Mike Flanagan, BOWL-TV’s Lead Analyst and I told them that in early January of this year 7-time PBA Champion Dick Allen called me for some advice. He was experiencing severe wrist pain and was looking for some answers so he could continue to bowl. After some conversation I had two recommendations for him: 1) add a pinky finger hole and 2) go to a lighter ball. Dick did both—he went from 15 to 14 lb. balls and added a pinky finger hole as shown in the picture. He was able to bowl the 60 games of competition and probably another 15 games of warm-up and practice pain free.

What the pinky finger does is it helps make the ball feel lighter and easier to roll because it helps reduce your grip pressure. I have always recommended it to those with wrist problems, seniors, and those who want to continue using a heavier ball.

There have been a number of Hall of Fame players that have used extra gripping holes—Kim Adler, Mark Williams, Pete Couture and myself—all used pinky finger holes with success. Two other Hall of Famers have used an index finger hole for help—Dana Miller-Mackie and Steve Fehr.

Don’t be reluctant to try something out of the norm. Remember if you add an extra gripping hole that every hole has to have a finger in it to be a legal delivery now — it wasn’t that way back in 1997.

BTW if you aren’t a subscriber to BOWL-TV yet, you should be. Fantastic coverage of the PBA, PWBA and other important USBC events at a great price of $119.95 yearly or $12.95 a month (plus 15% transaction fee and applicable taxes). In my opinion, it’s one of the best values in bowling.