Lateral Adjustments

Moving Left or Right to Control Your Ball

Moving left or right and keeping your same target can improve your scores.
Moving left or right and keeping your same target can improve your scores. Sean_Warren/E+/Getty Images

One of the simplest and most effective ways to adjust to lane conditions is making a side-to-side, or lateral, adjustment. This means shifting your starting position either left or right and changing nothing else. Especially when first learning the game, lateral adjustments are extremely valuable in not only helping shoot higher scores but to give players an introduction into learning the many, many complexities of the game.

How to Identify A Need to Move

You’ll know when you need to make a lateral adjustment by watching your shots. If you’re throwing a good ball but still missing the pocket left or right, the first adjustment you should make is probably a lateral move. If your release is feeling good to you, and you’re hitting your target on the lane, but not hitting the pocket, a simple lateral adjustment could be all you need to start rattling off strikes.

Don’t change your target on the lane, don’t change your approach speed, and generally don’t change anything except where you’re standing on your starting position.

It's very important to be honest with yourself about how good your shots are. If you yank one left and it goes left, you haven't learned anything about whether you need to adjust or not. It went left because you made a physical mistake and threw it there. If, however, you throw what feels like a good shot (your release was good, your target was hit and you know you didn't do anything physical wrong) and it still goes left, it's time to move.

How to Execute the Move

Move in the direction of the miss. That is, if you’re missing the pocket to the left, move left. If you’re missing to the right, move right.

Why should you move in the direction of the miss? Say you are aiming for the second arrow and throw a good shot. The ball picks up traction too hard in the backend and goes Brooklyn.

If you move your feet five boards to the left and once again throw a good shot at the second arrow, the ball now has to travel farther to get to the break point, so when it gains traction in the backend, it's coming back to the pocket rather than across the pocket.

How far you move might require some trial and error, but you can make a pretty good guess based on how far you’re missing. For instance, if you’re a righty and your ball is hitting the pins between the 3 and 6 pins, you might want to move your starting position as much as five boards to the right. If you continue to miss, you can adjust from there in smaller increments.

However, if you’re a righty and your ball is just barely missing the pocket and hitting the head pin a little too straight on, a simple move of one board to the left might do the job. Maybe two boards. The point is moving a very small amount can have a dramatic influence on your shots.

How Often to Adjust

A lateral movement is often the first adjustment a bowler will make, as it’s a very simple adjustment that can have excellent results.

The more you experiment with different starting positions, the better feel you’ll have for how far you need to move based on watching what your ball does on the pin deck.

Mastering the lateral adjustment will be a huge boon for your scores, especially when taken into account for picking up spares.