Elite Footwork - Direction

Footwork - Direction

It is really important as a coach to be knowledgeable in every aspect of the game. One of the most important skills a successful bowler needs to develop is proper footwork. Proper footwork enhances a player's ability to get the player and the ball to the right place at the right time, develop a repetitive swing, a swing that stays online, the ability to play all angles on the lane, different ball motion tools and other important components. This article is not meant to be the absolute authority on footwork as all players will have uniqueness, but hopefully it will serve to inspire both coaches and players to focus more on footwork.  The type of footwork I teach and will discuss in this article (with illustrations) provides the consistency to perform at the highest level.


Many great players have footwork with 4 steps, 5 steps, 6 steps, etc but the last 4 steps are the most relevant and important.  The last 4 steps of the footwork set the stage for the entire physical game. Some important terminology used in this article are:  1. tightrope - the ball side foot actually goes in front of the other foot (similar to a tight rope in a circus act).  2.  Side by side - this footwork is identical to our natural footwork.  When we walk, our footwork moves forward side by side.  3. Slot - this is the area located between the bowler's chin and ball side shoulder.  We position the ball in the slot at the setup position (see last article) followed by the push and dropping it into that same slot location.  (The length of the footwork, rhythm and tempo, 2-hander footwork will be discussed in future articles.)


The direction of the footwork is so important for a number of reasons.  In the front end of the approach proper footwork allows space for the ball to fall into the swing.  In the back end of the approach, it also creates the needed space for the ball to drop into a strong leverage position at the release.  It also creates the opportunity for the swing that stays online throughout the approach.  Let's take a look at each movement and the last four steps of the approach.  We will assume the bowler is right-handed.


1st Step - Tightrope


The 1st step is vital in getting the swing direction to be consistent and straight.  This first step is a "tightrope" meaning it moves directly in front of the left foot (think of a tightrope walker in a circus - same move).  This move creates the needed space for the ball to fall tightly into the swing and allows the ball to remain in the swing slot.


2nd Step - Side by Side

The second step is a side by side (normal everyday walking step).  This allows the swing to continue on a straight line with minimal lateral movement (misdirection) in the swing.  The ball swing will follow direction of the footwork, which really emphasizes the importance of the second step.  Footwork that gets too far left from a side by side may develop misdirection in the swing.  Ball swings that travel behind the back (inside the bowler's head) can and usually are a result of not executing the side by side in the second step.  This side by side direction really sets up a swing that stays on line and within the ball -swing slot throughout the approach.  Remember, the ball with chase the direction of the footwork. 


3rd Step - Tightrope

The third step or pivot step is another tightrope in footwork direction.  The pivot step needs to create the space for the ball to transition down from the apex (the top of the backswing) into a strong leverage position for the release.  The ball is able to navigate close to the ankle allowing for the hand to get to the center and equator (or below the equator) enabling the bowler to develop balance and a strong and powerful release.


4th Step - Straight Forward

The final step or slide step is similar to a side by side but I like to refer to the slide step as finishing straight forward.  Be careful the final step isn't moving right (into the swing) or left (away from the swing).  It will have a negative impact on accuracy and launch angles.  Most of the time if the first three steps are executed properly (above) the final slide step is straight forward.



I believe every coach will agree that proper mechanics are essential for a consistent and effective performance on the lanes.  There are footwork patterns that may differ from what I discussed in this article.  That is the great thing about our sport – there’s more than one way to be successful.  I believe the technique discussed in this article is simple and very effective in developing the consistency needed to perform at the highest level.  If your footwork is providing your game with consistency and performance, I recommend that you continue using it.  If you are challenged with consistency and/or are a bowler trying to develop your physical game, give this system a try.  I think you’ll find it easy to implement and very rewarding. 




Now, Go Win the Day!