The follow through is an important part of a bowling swing. Anyone who has played a sport such as tennis or golf will appreciate the importance of the follow-through when executing a shot. You could have the perfect swing up to a point, but that can all be undone if the follow-through is neglected.
The follow through in bowling is where your arm continues on a natural upward swing following the release of the bowling ball. The follow through sees your extended bowling arm continue the arc of the swing up until the elbow is at least level with the shoulder.
The purpose of the follow-through is to ensure good pace on the ball as well as accuracy in its delivery toward the target.
In this article, I shall look in more detail at what is meant by follow-through, as well as the importance of a good, consistent follow-through. I shall look at the technique behind the bowling follow through and how the elbow placement and extension of the bowling arm are key.
What Is Follow Through?
The follow-through covers the swing path from the moment you release the bowling ball to the endpoint of your swing.
Ideally, it should feel a natural movement as your arm extends out and up during the continuation of the arc of the swing path.
As you release the bowling ball close to the lowest point of the swing arc, it should feel natural for the arm to continue on an upward motion.
The body position as you release the bowling ball needs to remain balanced and stable.
The follow-through is a continuation of the rest of the swing and is just as integral to the success of the delivery of the ball.
Maintaining a natural swing after the release of the ball and seeing it through to the end of the arc increases your chances of striking your target in a more consistently accurate manner.
Why Follow Through Is Important
A consistent, quality follow-through helps control the speed and accuracy of the bowling ball. Without practicing this final, key element of the swing path there can be damaging repercussions to your end game. The swing needs to work as a complete unit to achieve the best scores.
When you complete your swing with the proper, natural follow-through you improve the execution of the delivery.
Any follow-through in any sport is geared to the proper release of the ball, sending it off in a way best optimized to find its intended target.
Once you interfere with the free-flowing upward motion of the follow-through when bowling you will introduce more errors and become less accurate.
If you over-swing to try and impart more force on the ball you are likely to pull the ball across and away from the end target. If you do not see the swing through and reduce speed in the follow-through you can also cause your bowling hand to move in a line away from the target.
Consistency is key. Whereas in some sports the follow-through may be altered to achieve varied types of shots, bowling requires the same swing path time and again.
You are looking for a pendulum-like back and forth motion of the bowling arm, helping to provide your bowling technique with balance, accuracy, speed, and consistency.
Body Position During Follow Through
Once you have released the ball your bowling arm should continue in an upward motion in the direction of the target.
With the knee still bent on the leading leg, the release point of the ball tends to be at the lowest part of the swing arc.
From here the arm swing should not be impeded, but allowed to flow naturally through and on an upward arc.
The bowling arm should stay fully extended before finishing at shoulder height, if not above.
Keeping the arm to the side of the face at all times though the swing will help control the accuracy of the ball release.
The eyes should always remain focused on the target, which could be a point on the bowling lane you want the ball to pass over (source).
The arm needs to stay in line with the target through its arc until the elbow is at shoulder height. The consistency of the elbow position is key.
Some people, even some of the best bowlers in the world, may have a final exaggerated flourish of the hand once it has reached shoulder height. It is something they have just always done.
However, focusing on a consistent placement of the elbow will help keep the follow-through consistent too, and the final flourish will only occur once the elbow has reached shoulder height.
Finding a natural, consistent follow-through that works for you is important. You want to avoid your hand moving across in front of your face.
This will bring about errant shots, as it encourages inaccuracy.
Concentrating and practicing on consistent elbow placement helps promotes a straight extension of the bowling arm and will benefit your bowling accuracy.
Reach For The Ceiling
‘Reach for the ceiling’ may have been a phrase you heard when learning to bowl in the past. Instead of the hand following through to shoulder height, you were often told to continue the upward swing so that the hand finished behind the ear.
Modern materials such as polyester and urethane used to make bowling balls plus the finish on the alleys have made this style of follow-through less necessary (source). Following through to shoulder height should impart the required pace and direction on the ball.
That is not to say the ‘reach for the ceiling’ follow-through approach can’t work. Everyone is different and your follow-through technique is about finding the right natural upward motion that works best for you upon releasing the ball.
You will see top professional players with extravagant finishes to their swings, with their hand moving sharply to the right or perhaps whipping back behind their shoulder.
However, these final flourishes are only after their elbow and bowling hand has reached shoulder height. Until that point, their swing retains consistency in elbow placement and straight arm extension.
Technique is important for success and improvement in sport.
This technique can often be personalized for individuals to get the best out of their natural ability. However, at the core there always remain key principles on which the technique relies.
Bowling relies on the consistency of your swing, with your approach, release, and follow through all combining to produce the best scores.
People can sometimes neglect the follow-through as an afterthought, concentrating primarily on their approach and ball release instead.
The follow-through is just as critical as the rest of the swing, and while you may have an individual style to round off your bowling swing the following are the key points of a follow though to aid consistent bowling:
- maintain a natural motion in the upswing of the follow through
- keep the body balanced and steady
- the arm should follow in the direction of the target as it swings up
- the eyes should remain focused on the target
- the bowling arm should swing to the side of the face
- maintain a long and straight arm extension
- elbow should reach shoulder height at least
Practice is key to bowling with a consistent follow-through. A one-step practice approach may help you in reaching this objective, as explained in this video:
The follow-through is the crucial conclusion of a bowling swing.
By maintaining form through the upward motion of the follow-through you retain good ball speed and accuracy. Consistency is key, developing a natural follow-through motion that keeps the arm extended straight and the shoulder square on to the target.
A lack of attention to the follow-through will adversely affect your bowling.
If you force the follow-through or restrict the natural motion of your arm then you can affect the direction and pace of the ball. A natural, flowing follow-through, consistently applied, is your way to better bowling results.