Butch Gerhart’s recommendations
Benjamin Butch Gerhart, a 23-year-old left-hander from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, burst into a tight circle of victories by winning PFA tournaments in Oklahoma City and Houston in spectacular fashion. Butch, in the original stance, holds the ball at approximately waist level. “But don’t do what I do,” Gerhart warns newbies. Taking a run, it moves sharply from right to left. “This is because I have an unorthodox scope,” he explains. “Only with such a run can I pick up the ball from below and send it.” It seems to me that how many players there are in bowling, there are so many different starting positions (stands). When choosing a stand, some prefer to stand straight, others tilt the body forward. Some raise the ball to shoulder level, while others hold it almost to the floor. There is nothing wrong with either position. The correct choice of the stance is directly related to the choice of a comfortable and relaxed position, in which it is easy to concentrate efforts on the take-off and send the ball. In order to achieve this, one can resort to almost extreme solutions.
If you are new to bowling and are not sure if you have chosen the right stance, do the following. Turn your back to the lane, keeping your heels just touching the line of the throw. Take four normal strides (they correspond to your run) and one half step (it is intended for sliding). Turn around and look towards the pins. This point will be the starting point for you. Make a mental note of how it is located in relation to the arrows in the take-off zone. If you are more comfortable with the three-step run, measure out three and a half steps. With a five-step take-off run, five and a half steps should be counted. How should the feet be positioned in the stance? It all depends on the length of your takeoff run. I like the five-step take-off run, and therefore I start with my left foot. When I take the starting position, I usually place my right foot a few inches in front of my left. Thus, my takeoff run from the left foot is completely natural. If you are an advocate of the four-step style, place your right foot slightly behind your left. This will make it easier and more comfortable to take the first step with your right foot.
Put your left foot in line with the center arrow in the take-off zone (no matter how many steps you take), then the ball will be in line with the second rangefinder located on the right side, possibly your reference point for knocking out the strike. The toes of your sneakers should be pointed straight ahead – the ball’s weight is evenly distributed on both feet. At the same time, the left hand should have a greater load than the right. The fingers of the right hand are in a free position in the holes provided for them. But when you start moving forward, they should be squeezed to strengthen the grip. Bowling instructors recognize three main types of starting position. According to the first, the player stands almost upright and holds the ball a few inches from the body, approximately at chin level. Those who rarely play tend to like this style.
The second type is among the most common. The player bends slightly, and his torso seems to cover the ball. The ball is a few inches from the body at waist level. Using this style is not fraught with big mistakes. The third type is the so-called half-squat. In this position, the player bends at the lower back and slightly bends the knees. The ball is held at waist level or slightly below. Due to the inclination, the ball is retracted from the body at a slightly greater distance. This style is often used by those players who are above average height, or those who have difficulty swinging the ball at a significant amplitude. This type of strut allows you to shorten the span. The level at which you hold your ball depends to a certain extent on how much speed you want to communicate to it. Unless nature has gifted you with speed in taking the starting position, you probably want to raise the ball high enough, that is, to chest level. This means that when you move the ball away from your chest, it will descend from a greater height than that which is characteristic of holding it at the level of the belt.
As a result, the swinging arc will increase, which, in turn, will impart a higher speed to the rolling ball.
From time to time, when I find that the condition of the lane is causing certain problems, I adjust the level of ball retention. For example, if the track is fast, that is, when the ball makes a hook larger than usual and I need to speed up its rotation in order to reduce this hook, I raise the ball to a height that is higher than normal for me. Thus, the speed of the ball increases, and the arc (hook) along which it moves decreases. If I need to increase the arc, I make the opposite decision – I lower the ball in its original position.
I would not advise everyone to use this strategy. After in you will determine the level of ball lift that is most comfortable for you in the starting position, you need to adjust the work of your legs. If you are holding the ball at a higher level than usual, you will need to take wider strides to synchronize the movements during the run. Grinding this element is quite difficult. In recent years, many professional bowling players have developed a technique where the ball is held to the right side rather than straight ahead. Some drop it almost to the floor. This practice is well founded, and its benefits are obvious. When the ball is on the right side, it is much easier to swing. At the first step, when taking a run, the ball does not need to be taken away from itself – it is already where it should be. This reduces the likelihood that the ball will roll in a wide arc and that the send will be from the side.
Ray Blata, one of the most technical professionals with more than ten years of experience, is distinguished by a peculiar stance. He tilts his body forward, bends his knees and holds the ball in his right hand. But the most unique feature of his stance is that he raises the ball to eye level and aims as if he were carrying a rifle before sending it onto the track. Bluth admits that this position is difficult to maintain and that he had to work hard to maintain balance before starting the run. This technique suits Bluth, but he does not recommend it to others, emphasizing: “Anyone who tries to master it, does it at their own peril and risk.” Al Savas, a pro from Milwaukee with nine games and 300 points, also uses a very distinctive stance. Savas strongly bends forward in the lower back, dropping his arms low in front of him and holding the ball in his left hand. He does not take the ball away from the chest in the literal sense of the word, since from the very beginning the ball is already in the position of the pendulum movement. This stance allows him to swing in a completely straight line.
By leaning deeply forward, Savas can reach out when sending the ball and lift the ball with his fingers before sending it onto the lane. Naturally, the given example of unorthodox is not suitable for the average player. However, the positions taken by Savas and Blat serve as proof that this or that stance depends solely on the individual characteristics of a person. Most importantly, it should be free and comfortable. After you have taken the starting position, but have not started the approach to the throw line, pull yourself together. Pick a landmark on the track and focus on it. Do not take your eyes off him until the ball crosses this place. Some professionals need seconds to pull themselves together, others, like Don Carter, don’t seem to need them at all. And yet, every professional concentrates as much as possible at the right time. The ability to focus is at the core of any professional’s correct run. Take the time to find your stance that suits your height, physique and individual playing style. Remember, the correct stance is the key to your success. If it is poorly chosen, the ball will most likely be lubricated.
To find your starting point, measure four and a half steps from the throw line in the take-off zone if you are using a four-step take-off run, and, accordingly, five and a half steps if you prefer to take off in five steps, and for players with a three-step take-off run, the number of steps should be three with a half step. If you start with your right foot, place it a few inches behind your left as you take the starting position. If you take the first step with your left foot, the procedure is reversed. Place your left foot in line with the center arrow in the take-off zone. The toes of your shoes should point straight ahead. Let the entire weight of the ball fall on the left hand. There are three main starting positions: upright stance: the player’s body is straightened and the ball is at chest level; leaning stance: the player bends over the ball, holding it approximately at waist level; half-squat stance: the player bends at the lower back and bends the knees, the ball is at or below the waist. The level at which you hold the ball helps determine the speed that the ball will develop. To give the ball more acceleration, hold it slightly higher. Before you send your balloon, select an appropriate landmark for it on the track; concentrate on this operation.