Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Classic Strike

There are many ways to get a strike in bowling. Most people are familiar with two, the 1-2 pocket shot and the Brooklyn. There are variants on each of these. Think of pocket strikes when the pins seem to explode vs. the strike that requires a messenger pin to fly across the lane to pick up the final pin standing. There are other ways to get a strike. For example, a couple of years ago, I recorded a strike by bringing the ball in between the 3 and 6 pins. I haven't seen it happen since. All I remember of that day was turning around to see our opponents shaking their heads in disbelief (disgust?).

Anyway, I want to briefly describe what happens in a classic strike throw for a right handed bowler. Pin action is so fast, so hectic, and viewed from such a poor perspective that it is really isn't clear what exactly is going on down there 60 ft away. I assume many people already know what follows, but I did not. Most of what I write is about things that I am learning in the hope that somebody else out there can learn along with me.

Besides, it is a useful thing to know. If you know what should happen when you hit the pocket, but it isn't happening, you should have greater insight into what exactly is going on. My most common problem is hitting the pocket but leaving a 10 pin. If this is happening, then one of two things must be going on: 1) Pinnius hates me; 2) I didn't really hit the pocket. I'll leave the stuck 10 for another day because I'm not sure I understand it yet, but here's what happens when you get a classic strike for a right-handed bowler:

The ball should first strike the 1 pin. You want to strike it in line with the diagonal formed by the 2, 4, and 7 pins. The 1 will strike the 2 which strikes the 4 which strikes the 7. Essentially, they fall like dominoes. The ball is deflected to the right into the 3 pin. The 3, 6, and 10 will domino down in order. After the ball strikes the 3, it is deflected left to take out the 5. The 5 will kick back and take out the 8. The ball will deflect back to the right to clean up the 9.

Now that you know what should have happened with that perfect pocket shot, you should have slightly better insight into why it didn't happen. I'll try to diagnose some of those problems in the future. In the meantime, here's a slo-mo video of a classic strike with a great mural to boot:


  1. I thought all my strikes were just magic or something...

  2. Very useful post, I always wondered why the pocket was the optimal place for a strike and now I can see why.

  3. MD, Thanks. I was hoping somebody would find this useful.

    EB, As for your strikes, they do required magic.

  4. I can't keep paying for pixie dust... That stuff is expensive! (I was forced to use my reserve supply sparingly last night.)

  5. I've tried to follow my throws with a stern look towards the pins, but to no avail. I'm too much of a teddy-bear.

  6. Check out:


  7. Very interesting and very useful. My only complaint is that the graphs are awful.

  8. Yeah, Mick and I were talking about it yesterday afternoon. I couldn't figure those charts out at all.


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