By Stephen Padilla
USBC Coaching Specialist
By this point, you've developed the ability to hit the pocket at will on most conditions, but scoring comes down to more than just hitting the pocket; you've got to hit it the right way. In order to do so, you have to find the right combination of ball, target and reaction. Ball speed plays a big role in this process.
Effective control of ball speed is one of the hallmarks of an elite player. After all, slight variations in speed alter the ball's ability to skid, hook and roll into the pins from the proper angle to carry all 10 pins. With that in mind, it's crucial that you have a large bag of tricks to utilize when you're looking to change your speed up or down.
There are many approaches you can use to slow down. Some of my favorites include the following: raising or lowering the ball during your setup, moving up or back on the approach, changing you wrist position, or singing a different tune in your head in order to slow your tempo; likewise, there are plenty of effective tricks for speeding things up and taking revs off the ball. They include: unloading your wrist position, lofting the ball farther onto the lane or moving your feet faster in order to generate more ball speed.
Remember, to be elite, you have to strike and strike often. Practice the techniques listed above, and be sure to try others you've heard about as well. That way, you'll have plenty of options to choose from the next time you find yourself needing to change your look on the lanes.