chris barnes

Best Practices: Top Tips for Intermediate Bowlers

I’m not talking about Bowling Practice this time. We’re talking about ‘best practices’. Things you should model off of professional bowlers to be the best bowler you can be!

Gearing up


When starting you want the cheapest shoes that will let you not have to rent those nasty House-Bowling Shoes. But as you get better at bowling, being able to fine-tune your approach and slide becomes more and more important. If you take this sport seriously, look into getting shoes with interchangeable soles. These soles have differing tackiness levels that you can put on depending on the bowling lane conditions.

Bowling Balls:

Try to get to 15 lbs with your bowling ball. This is the sweet spot in power, carry, scoring, and convenience. Most pros and seniors and even female professional bowlers try to stay at 15 lbs as long as they can, you should too.

You should try to have at least two bowling balls. Have a plastic spare ball for spares, and your strike ball. Your strike ball should be a ‘benchmark’ ball. A benchmark ball is neither too strong nor too weak for the lanes. A ball that hooks too much for you will be unplayable at this level.

Bowling Kit:

You should have a bowling kit of things in your bag for emergencies. These include snacks for hunger, bowling tape to adjust fingerholes, nail clippers, squeegees to wipe the oil off the balls, extra interchangeable soles, and a fan for when it gets hot. Any time you are lacking something on the lanes, you should make a note of it so that you can bring it next time.

Physical Game:

Develop a reliable A-game

We all have an A-game. But from the start, it’s helpful to have an A-game that helps you score higher. My own personal A-Game is a ball that hooks the whole lane, unfortunately, it’s only viable about 20% of the time. I’d be better off if I had started considering a more passive game as my A-Game, then I could just crank the ball up to my B-Game if necessary.

Embody the Sniper or Scientist

The sniper or scientist are similar in that they have a hypothesis (target) they take their shot, and then recalibrate their next shot or experiment based on those results. They are constantly iterating and learning, and honing in on their target.

Explore what options you might be capable of

Sometimes we don’t even consider being able to make an adjustment, because we don’t know it exists! Example adjustments we can make are more or less Axis Rotation, More or fewer revs, More or less speed, flattening wrist at spares, or throwing a backup ball.

Even if we know these exist, we probably won’t be able to use these techniques if we haven’t practiced them all that much. 

Practicing and Coaching:

Even professional bowlers have to practice, and even professional bowlers have coaches. Coaches may seem like an expensive investment in bowling. But a good coach can shave years off of you learning to bowl better.

Make the most of your practices by Planning your Practice, then Practicing your Plan.

Make sure you practice getting spares as well as getting strikes. A few pins from a spare could be the difference between victory and defeat.

Mental Game

If you can, try to make things interesting when you bowl with your friends or in your league with maybe a small bet, or some reward for the highest scorer. Becoming serious will help give you the tenacity to win, versus just bowling for fun. 


Another anchor of success could be following the same routine when you go up to throw the ball. Some people wipe their ball off a certain way, Put some rosin on their fingers. This consistency gives you an anchor and will help you perform consistently. You’ll be able to ignore a distraction coming from the next lane. You’ll be able to bowl the perfect shot despite the pressure to win the match.


Doctors use checklists to perform complex surgeries, even though they are specialists in what they are doing. Pilots use checklists to fly complex planes and get you safely to your destination. Why not use checklists in your own life and bowling?

A checklist of your gear to bring for a tournament or league will make sure that you are well-stocked for any emergency or occurrence.

A short mental checklist when you get up on the lanes will help you establish your routines and rituals to have a consistently good game.


This is a short list of tips that will take you a long way in your future of bowling. It’s time to leave those silly house balls and Bowling Clown Shoes behind, and get some Strikes and High Scores!

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