13 Bowling Tips for Beginners

Here are a few bowling tips for beginners that can help you start playing better today.
Group of children in bowling alley, little bowlers

Learning the sport of bowing can take time. If you are looking for some bowling tips to help improve your game play, then you have come to the right place.

It’s easy to get immersed in a sport especially if you love to play it. But it can also be challenging to get better if you don’t take the time to learn the basics.

Let’s get started with what I feel is one of the best tips I have ever been given… getting your own bowling ball.

1. Get a Custom Bowling Ball

Happy young African man with bowling ball standing in front of camera

Piking a bowling ball is very important if you are going to get serious about bowling. You will need to find a ball that is the right weight and size for you.

Your first perfect game will usually come after you find your perfect ball.

You will also want to make sure that it fits your hand and grip type. Bowling balls come in many different sizes, weights and designs.

If you are not sure what size or weight ball you should be using, ask a professional at your local bowling alley for help.

Use a lighter ball if you are just getting started. You can also check out this post on How to Choose and Bowling Ball Weight. Just remember a lighter ball will give you more control but less hook potential.

Grip Type and Hand Size

The most important thing to remember when you buy your first ball though is how it fits your hand.

Getting a custom ball drilled to fit your hand depends on what type of bowling grip you want to use and how big your hand is.

There are several ways to hold a bowling ball and you can get your ball drilled to accommodate each one.

Find a Pro Shop Near You

Getting a custom bowling ball involves having your own personal bowling ball made to fit your hand. Make sure you don’t buy a ball with the holes already drilled or else it’s pretty much the same as using a house ball.

Just Google “Pro Shop Near Me” and then give them a call.

Getting your ball drilled at a pro shop will give you the best possible grip on your ball, and help you bowl more accurately. Check out this post on what you need to know before drilling your ball.

2. Buy Your Own Shoes

Bowling ball and house shoes on wooden floor

There is nothing like comfort when it comes to trying to perfect something. The same goes for bowling, especially if you are trying to start off on the right foot.

You will be able to focus more on your game and bowl better if you have a good pair of shoes that fit well and are comfortable. This is especially true for left-handed bowlers.

You can find some great bowling shoes here. Check them out now if you want to bowl better.

3. Learn How to Throw a Ball Straight

Bowling lane

One of the most important bowling tips when you first start bowling is to learn how to throw a straight ball. A lot of beginners try to step right into the advanced technique of throwing a hook.

A good plastic ball will help you achieve this. Check out these entry level balls to help you get started.

While throwing a hook is the best way to get that pocket and get a perfect strike, it takes time to perfect and there are lots of factors involved. For now, just try to hit the pocket by keeping your hand straight when you throw. This way you can at least get some good pin action.

The “pocket” is the space between the top center pin (the head pin) and the one beside it on either side. Your pocket will be determined by which hand you bowl with.

So, right-handed bowlers would aim for the right side, and left-handed bowlers would aim for the left.

For now, just try to throw the ball using the arrows on the boards as your guide.

4. Practice Your Aim

Man during the throwing bowling ball

All modern bowling lanes have 39 boards. There are arrows on the 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 boards. Most bowling alleys will have this set up so you should be able to practice just about anywhere if you want to bowl better.

The arrows are used to help you hit the pocket. There are other factors that help guide you as well.

Remember that each board is a different target. The ball will hit different parts of each board, so aim for the part of the board you want to hit.

Line Up Your Shot. People usually think that aiming for the center arrow is the key to getting a head-on strike. However, this is not always the best strategy.

The ideal arrow to aim for is generally the second arrow from the center, on whichever side your bowling arm is. This will help you get to the pocket more easily.

Don’t Look at the Pins. It’s easy to stare at the pins while you are trying to aim, but this isn’t the best way to get a strike. Instead, focus on the arrows and try to hit them.

The pins will take care of themselves. If you focus too much on the pins, you will likely end up missing your target. Of course, the goal is to knock down the pins each time you play, but staring at them will not help you bowl better.

5. Master the Approach

Boy about to roll a bowling ball hobby and leisure concept

The approach is the way you walk to the foul line and how you swing your arm before you shoot. There are actually a couple of different ways to master your approach so choose which feels best for you.

I recommend that you start from the same spot each time in order to get the most out of your bowling game.

4-Step vs 5-Step

The first thing you need to decide is how many steps you will take from your starting position to the end of your approach.

The most common approaches are the four-step and the five-step.

Even though both approaches are fine, the 4-step is a little easier for beginners so we will walk through that… pun intended.

Planning Your Steps. With a four-step approach, you will be taking the first step with the same foot as your bowling hand.

This means that a right-hander’s steps will go right, left, right, left. The proper foot to finish on is the opposite of your bowling hand. This is called your slide foot.

A left-hander will start with the left and finish with the right.

It’s important to note that the ball will be at chest level at this point and your body will be upright. You will have to try your approach out several times to determine the right spot to start from.

The Pendulum Motion. While taking your four steps, you will swing the bowling ball with your arm before releasing it at the end.

When you bowl, you should think about your arm as a pendulum. The bowling ball should swing smoothly and naturally back and forth without being forced.

It is also important to keep the ball swinging straight instead of going off to either side.

There are several motions that accompany the pendulum swing of your arm from start to finish.

The Pushaway. As you make your first step, you extend your bowling arm and point the ball toward the lane. This is known as the pushaway. Your elbow, which was bent at the beginning of the stance, should now be straight. Be sure to point your arm straight forward, not to either side as this can mess up your shot.

Downswing. After you push the bowling ball away, it will come down. As you prepare to make your backswing, your foot should touch the ground and the ball should be in line with your leg.

Backswing. The next phase is to complete the backswing and raise the ball once again. The ball should be at its highest point behind your back and your arm should be straight when you take your third step.

Slide and release the ball. Your fourth and final step is somewhat different from the earlier three. The ball comes back forward after the backswing, but this time you will be releasing it towards the pins.

Also, as you release the shot, your foot will slide over the approach area surface towards the foul line. It’s important not to go past the foul line or else your shot won’t count.

When you reach the fourth step, your foot should once again be out in front of you and the ball should have passed by your leg. Your thumb should now be emerging from the thumb-hole, and you should be beginning your turn at this time.

6. Learn to Throw a Hook (Spin the ball during release)

hook ball

Being able to throw a good hook starts with a good release of the bowling ball. If you are going to make a ball hook, you need to perfect your throwing style.

Although the approach is important and it all works together, the way you release the bowling ball will determine how much hook the ball has.

Why would you want to make the ball hook? The best opportunity to strike is with a hook shot. To obtain a strike, you must hit the “pocket” at an entry angle of 3-6 degrees. If the ball hits the head pin and the 2nd row at the perfect angle you are almost garaunteed a strike.

You probably know that the lanes are coated with oil. If you make good use of the oil, you may accomplish this by skimming your ball across the oil pattern and hooking inwards toward the pocket in order to acquire the entrance angle you need.

Beginning Vs. Intermediate Bowlers.

The ability to throw a hook shot and gain that desired entrance angle is what distinguishes beginning bowlers from intermediate bowlers. We included how to hook the bowling ball in this guide but please note that it’s not necessarily a beginner’s tip.

Here’s how to do it. The release is the most important part of your shot. If you release the ball incorrectly, it will go off target. However, if you release it correctly, the ball will spin inward as it travels.

The inward spin is often called revs. This is short for revolutions.

The main thing to think about when learning the release is that it doesn’t need to be forced. The way the ball falls off of your hand will create revs.

Keep Your Wrist Straight. While keeping your wrist straight, hold the ball at your side. It may take a little muscle to keep it there, but as long as your ball fits your hand properly, this shouldn’t be too difficult.

Your arm should be positioned as if you were carrying a briefcase. Your palm should be directed towards your leg, with your thumb pointing downwards. At release, your wrist must be in this particular position.

If you are holding the ball properly on release, your ball should be oriented similarly to the one shown. Imagine holding the ball like this and letting your thumb slide out of the ball.

The only force still on the ball will be the upward force of your fingers. If you keep for fingers tense, the ball “falls” around the axis, and inward rotation is created.

Your Thumb Comes Out First. When you swing the ball towards the foul line, the first thing that happens is your thumb comes out of the ball.

Timing is very important when you do this. You will learn how to release your thumb at the right time through trial and error.

If you don’t time it correctly, you will either drop the ball too early or throw it too far down the lane. Different bowlers have different preferences for how much loft they want on the ball, but I like to set the ball down gently when I release it.

Keep Your Fingers Tight. In order to create revs, you need to hold your fingers tight.

If you keep your fingers loose, the ball will leave your hand with no spin. You are grabbing the ball with your fingers, but keeping your thumb loose so that it can easily come out of the ball when you need it to.

Most adults think this grip feels very unnatural at first. You will need to practice to get used to it. Throwing this way will help you hit the pocket better and increase lane coverage.

Follow-Through. When you release the ball, don’t let your pendulum-like arm swing come to a halt. After releasing the ball, follow through towards your target and allow your arm to move back and forth loosely.

This will help your swing stay straight and loose, and it can also help you get more revolutions from the lift of your fingers.

Sometimes when you’re trying to get more revs, you can muscle the ball too much. This can make your aim less consistent. A super loose, exaggerated follow-through can help avoid this.

Also please note that not every bowling alley has the same oil conditions so hooking the ball may vary from bowling lane to bowling lane.

I always go to my favorite bowling alley which is further out of town when i want to practice on a lane that has more oil.

7. Join a Bowling League

Bowling team joined hands before the competition

Being a part of a good bowling community can make all the difference. One of the best tips I ever received was to reach out to other bowlers who love to play.

It can be hard to find good advice and direction when you’re just starting out. A bowling league can introduce you to other experienced bowlers who can help guide you in the right direction.

There are different types of bowling leagues for all levels of experience, so if you’re a beginner, don’t worry about not being good enough.

You can also find bowling leagues that are more relaxed and fun-oriented if you’re not looking to get too serious about bowling just yet.

8. Video Yourself

Camera recording a video for a DIY blogger

The best way to practice bowling is to video yourself doing it. That way you have footage to look back over and really analyze what you’re doing.

A video will show you exactly how you’re releasing the ball, and whether or not your form is correct. If you happen to roll a strike while you are filming yourself be sure to play that back a bunch of times until you see how your form looks.

It can be helpful to set up the camera so that it’s filming from the side you while you bowl. This way you can see your whole arm swing and not just your hand.

9. Sign Up For Lessons

Getting a professional lesson is always a good idea. A professional can help you with your form, and give you some tips on how to improve. If you are serious about the sport, be sure to sign up for lessons ASAP.

They will also be able to help you with your release and make sure that you’re doing it correctly.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Trying different techniques is a great way to find what works best for you. If you are having trouble with your hook, try changing your grip or your stance. If you sign up for lessons, be sure to tell you coach what all you have tried that you like.

Sometimes all it takes is a small change to make a big difference in your game.

11. Be Patient (One game at a time)

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a great bowling score. It takes time and practice to become a good bowler. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately, just keep practicing and you will eventually improve.

12. Have Fun.

Friends playing bowling

One of the best tips out there is to simply have fun and enjoy bowling for the sport that it is. Bowling is a game and it should be enjoyable while you are playing. Of course we want to knock all the pins down on every throw… but if you are not having fun, then what is the point?

Remember to relax and enjoy yourself while you are bowling and you will be sure to see your scores improve in no time.

13. Learn Proper Bowling Etiquette.

Beginner bowlers often don’t know that bowling has a set of unspoken rules, or etiquette. It can be a bit awkward to bowl as a newbie especially if it’s your first time on the lane.

It’s important to be aware of these rules so that you don’t anger other bowlers or ruin the game for everyone.

Here are some basic bowling etiquette rules:

  1. When you are ready to bowl, always let the person on your right go first.
  2. When driving, you’re likely to come upon circumstances where two people are coming to the approach line at the same time. In this situation, it is the individual on the right who has precedence.
  3. When you are bowling, be courteous and let people on the adjacent lane go before you.
  4. If there is a bowler on the bowling lane next to you and they are making their approach, wait until they have finished before making yours.
  5. Stay off the approach while you wait.
  6. Taking too long to aim or get set up when you are on the approach delays the game.
  7. Prepare yourself behind the line – and save yourself some time! Nobody likes waiting ten minutes for the person in front of them to bowl!


By following these bowling tips for beginners, you will be on your way to becoming a better bowler in no time. I hope that this helps you want to bowl better.

Just remember to practice, experiment, and have fun and you will see your game improve in no time.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a little off the top to help me keep this website running. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *