Why Your Bowling Balls Go Left & How to Fix It


Bowling can be a fun activity to do with friends, or you can take it more seriously and join a league. Either way, not having control over the ball can make bowling less enjoybable, and you may wonder if you can do anything. Luckily, you don’t have to be a bad bowler.

If a bowling ball goes left for a right-handed player, the player may be turning their body to the left. When a bowling ball goes to the left for a left-handed player, the player may not be turning enough. Either way, correcting one’s footwork and body position can help fix the problem.

Whether you’re new to bowling or have been doing it for years, you can always improve. But if you come across an issue that you don’t understand, it can be frustrating. Keep reading to learn why your bowling balls go to the left and how you can fix that.

Why Your Bowling Balls Go Left

When bowling, you want to knock down as many pins as possible. To do that, you need to aim for just the right spot so that as pins fall, they knock other pins. But if your bowling balls always go left, it won’t matter if you aim for the right spot.

And if you can’t figure out why your bowling balls go left, it can be hard to correct the problem. Keep reading to learn some common reasons why your bowling balls go left.

Body Position

If you bowl right-handed, you need to hold the bowling ball to the right of your body. Left-handed bowlers need to hold the ball to the left. It can be tempting to hold the ball right in front of you, but that can cause the ball not to go where you want it.

When you hold the ball right in front of you, you can affect how you throw it. The bowling ball acts as a pendulum, and it needs space to swing back before you release it. You need to give the ball an even plane, and that means holding the ball off to the side.

If you find you can’t do that with a bowling ball, you can experiment. You may want to try different weights, and it can help to get a custom ball if you bowl a lot. That way, you can make sure you can manage your bowling ball in the proper position.

Not Looking at the Arrows

When you bowl, it can be easy to look at the pins. You want to hit the pins, so it seems like you should look at them. However, you need to look at the arrows since those lines up with the pins.

If you bowl right-handed, you should look at the arrow just to the right of the center. And if you bowl left-handed, you should look at the arrow just to the left. Aiming at other arrows may cause your bowling ball to go left or right.

While looking at the pins or even the center arrow sounds good, it can throw off your shot. Make sure you look at the correct arrow based on your bowling hand. Then, you can get a better shot when you bowl.

Dropping Your Shoulder

Another reason why you may not have full control over your bowling ball is if you drop your shoulder too much. You should feel relaxed and not overly tense when you bowl, but you don’t want to let everything go.

Dropping your shoulder too much can affect how you throw the ball. While dipping your shoulder a bit is okay, it should be unconsciously. If you notice you consistently lower your shoulder, that could be why your bowling balls go left.

Instead, let your shoulder dip naturally as you swing the bowling ball. Go through the motions a few times before you let go of the bowling ball. If you can keep a smooth stance the whole time, you may be able to fix the issue.

Not Planning Your Steps

If you walk up to the lane and throw the ball, you won’t have much control over where it goes. Serious bowlers and even some amateurs take great care when approaching the lane. You should figure out how far back to start your approach, and you should start with the correct foot.

To find the right starting spot:

  1. Step up to the foul line, and turn around.
  2. Place your heel two inches in front of the center dot.
  3. Take four steps so that you’re about that far from the lane.
  4. Next, you can turn around and put your opposite foot in the middle to line up your shot.

You won’t have to do this process once you know how to eyeball the distance. But if you don’t think about how to step up to the lane, you may not be able to release the ball properly. Then, your bowling balls may go left.

Stepping in the Wrong Spot

As you plan your steps, you may think it’s better to step toward the center of the lane. But like with your body position, where your feet go can affect your shot. You should walk on the opposite side of the lane from the hand that you use to throw.

That means right-handed bowlers should walk slightly to the left of the lane’s center. That way, your bowling ball won’t be so far to the right that you have to angle it in. If you angle it that way, it could go farther to the left than you want.

And for the left-handed bowlers, it’s important to step slightly to the right of center. That way, you won’t angle your body so that the ball can go near the center of the lane. But you don’t want to be so far left that your ball hits the lane too far to the left.

Bad Release

Even if you know how and where to step, you may still have issues with throwing your bowling ball. Throwing your ball too early or too late can cause it to go too far to one side. If your hand isn’t in the correct place when you release the ball, it won’t follow the same path as when you release it at the perfect time.

You may also want to consider how you hold the ball. If you use too strong of a grip, that can give the ball a more angular path. A relaxed grip will give the ball a straighter path, and if that straight path veers to the left, your ball may go to the left.

Consider how you release the ball and when. If everything else seems to be right, that may be why your bowling balls go left.

No Follow Through

Perhaps you have the right step pattern, and you know exactly how and when to release the bowling ball. But you still find that your bowling balls go left. At this point, something to check would be if you follow through with your shot.

If you throw your bowling ball and leave your hand there, it could affect how your ball moves. You want to keep moving your hand and arm as if the ball is still there. Try not to throw the ball and stop moving as soon as the ball leaves your hand.

Follow through with your shot to give the ball enough energy it needs to move down the lane easily. Then, you can make sure you hit as many pins as you can.

Oil Patterns

Another factor that may affect how your bowling ball travels is the lane’s oil pattern. Bowling lanes have a thin layer of oil that helps the bowling balls move. But different lanes can have different patterns depending on the alley or even the specific lane.

If you’ve always bowled at one alley, you may find you have problems at a new alley. The new alley may use different oil patterns than your original one. And depending on the differences between oil patterns, you may need to adjust how you throw the ball.

Unfortunately, it can be hard or even impossible to see the oil on a bowling lane. So if you think this is the cause, you may need to experiment with different positions to find what works.

Mechanical Issues

Maybe you’ve always gone to the same bowling alley and used the same lane. But you still have issues with your bowling balls going left. In that case, the lane could have some mechanical issues.

The machine that deposits oil may need some repairs. It may be putting oil in a different pattern, or the oil might be uneven. This can be an annoying problem because you don’t have control over the solution.

But you can try a nearby bowling lane to see if the problem is still there. If not, you can talk to the alley staff about the issue. They may be able to have someone fix the machine on the problematic bowling lane.

How to Fix the Problem

Once you know some of the common reasons why your bowling balls go left, you can fix the issue. Depending on the problem, it may be an easy fix. But other problems may require more time and effort.

Here’s how you can fix the issue and keep your bowling balls from going left or right.

Consider Your Handedness

While some causes will have the same effect on right-handed and left-handed bowlers, that’s not always the case. For example, if you stand in the center, you may need to move to one side or the other based on your bowling hand.

Before you start to fix the issue, consider if your handedness may play a role. You can then determine which way to move or how to change your stance to solve the problem.

Bowlers with both types of handedness can have issues. You don’t need to worry about switching which hand you use to bowl. But you should consider how big a role your hand plays in creating your bowling issue.

Review the Possible Causes

Next, you should review the possible causes of bowling balls that go left. You can review everything from your body position to how you approach the lane. If the problem has occurred for a while, it’s probably due to something you’re doing while bowling.

But if the problem starts immediately, it may not have to do with you. It could be that the bowling lane has some oil issues.

However, there may be multiple causes for the problem. Maybe you aren’t positioning your body or feet correctly. Or maybe you aren’t releasing your bowling ball correctly, and you’re not following through with your arm.

Whatever the reason, you may need to go through a few different steps to fix the problem. Then, you can start to have more control over where the ball goes when you bowl.

Take a Video

If you aren’t sure what the problem is but know it has to do with how you bowl, take a video of yourself. You can set up multiple cameras around you to watch from all angles. Or you can have a friend film you and get shots from different perspectives.

Then, you can watch the video to see how and where you step. You can check your body position and see if you follow through.

Sometimes, seeing yourself can help you find problems you wouldn’t notice while bowling. By watching a video of yourself, you may find the issue, and you can start to correct it immediately.

Trial and Error

If you have multiple issues or can’t find the problem by watching yourself, you may need to do some trial and error. You can start by fixing one thing that you may find is an issue. Do that multiple times to make sure the fix isn’t a fluke.

And if you still have the problem, move to another possible solution. Again, use that technique multiple times to see if you can consistently throw the ball where you want it. If you have issues, move on to another cause.

Check different things until you find one that solves your problem. Then, you can use that solution when you bowl, and you can hopefully increase your score.

Get a Second Opinion

Sometimes, you may still have problems. If that’s the case, consider getting a second opinion on your bowling. You can ask another bowler to watch you and look for what might be wrong. Or you can hire a coach for a bowling lesson.

Your coach can find and diagnose the issue, and they can help you adjust your technique. Bowling lessons aren’t always cheap, but they can be a great way to improve how you bowl. If you can afford a lesson, it can be a great time to get feedback on all of your bowling skills.

Learn the New Technique

Whether you take a bowling lesson or not, you should learn the technique to correct how you bowl. That could mean learning a new step pattern and getting the hang of it. Luckily, you can learn that at the bowling alley or at home.

You may also want to learn how to follow through with your shot to make sure you don’t stop throwing too soon.

No matter what you need to learn, take it at your own speed. It may take a while before you get comfortable with the new technique. But when you do get comfortable, you will be able to bowl that way as if it was natural for you.

Practice, Practice, Practice

As you change your habits, don’t be afraid to go slow. If you’ve bowled one way for years, it can be hard to change those habits in one day.

Give yourself time to practice using the new stepping pattern or body position. Go easy on yourself if you revert back to an old habit, and do your best to follow the new habit the next time.

If possible, try to practice your new techniques at home as well as at the bowling alley. That way, you can reinforce the new concepts more quickly. You won’t have to worry about going bowling any time you want to practice, so you can learn more in less time.

Switch Equipment

If you still have issues, you may want to use different bowling equipment. Try to find bowling shoes that are comfortable for your feet and allow you to step to the lane easily.

You may also want to switch to a different bowling ball. Consider changing the weight or even getting a custom ball if you bowl often. That way, you can get used to that specific ball, and you can have more control over it.

And if you still have issues, see if you can switch bowling lanes. If the issue has to do with the oil pattern, you may not be able to do anything to fix it. Your only option would be to move to a different lane without any oil issues.

Final Thoughts

Bowling can be a fun activity, but it can be frustrating when you keep having bowling issues. If your bowling balls go left, you could have an improper body or foot position. But it may be a mechanical issue with that bowling lane. Luckily, you can fix almost any problem and improve your bowling skills.

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Sources

T Conner

My grandfather and my mother both taught me bowling in the early 1970’s. I spent the next few decades working my way up to the top tiers of local amateur bowling leagues, and continued to participate in college at the club level. My wife and bowled in coed leagues before kids, and then taught our kids bowling as they grew up. Now I’m here to answer some of the web’s common questions about bowling rules, techniques, equipment and more.

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