Coach’s Corner: Stick The Landing!

Image

Kerri Strug sticks the landing – on a broken ankle!

The most important bowling fundamental.  Johnny Petraglia once gave valuable advice at a clinic that all bowlers need to practice: in any sport where a swing is involved – golf, baseball, bowling and many others, you must first set your lower body then let the swing leverage through for maximum power.  I call this “Sticking the Landing” and it is an absolute must for maximum power, repeatability and high scores.  It is the single most important fundamental that every aspiring bowler must learn.  And, Diandra Asbaty wrote about it in the latest BJ, so it must be important!

Image

Jeff Valentine, PBA tour veteran and hall-of-famer, demonstrates a textbook sticking of the landing

Sticking the landing in bowling.  In the above photo Jeff Valentine displays perfect balance and finish position in bowling.  Jeff was a touring pro and is a member of several halls of fame.  Everyone should aspire to repeat a deep knee-bend and solid line position. Even after a four year layoff, Jeff sticks the landing every time!

Image

TJ Valentine demonstrates textbook finish position in golf. TJ has appeared on Golf Channel’s “Big Break” and was voted “Top 25 teachers in New England.”

Sticking the landing in golf.  Like father like son, TJ Valentine shows off his perfect stick-the-landing form for golf.  Note how his legs are absolutely solid, with perfect balance, which allows him to provide maximum leverage into the swing.  Bowling is no different!  By the way, TJ hits it well over 300 yards on an average drive.  

Image

Mickey Mantle sticks the landing. Great swings are timeless!

Are you “stepping out?”  If you make your shot then take a balance step with your opposite foot (your right foot if you are right-handed), you are “stepping out” of the shot and NOT sticking the landing.  At least 40% of the bowlers I watch do this.  This costs you power, leverage and repeatability.  If you can hold your release form until the ball hits the pins, you are probably sticking it just fine.  If your knee forms a near-90 degree angle, you are in the correct position. 

Keep your non-slide foot on the floor.  The first and best drill I know of to stick the landing is to keep your opposite foot on the floor while sliding.  So if you are right handed, this means your right foot will stay in contact with the floor throughout the swing and release, and ideally until the ball hits the pins.  Some bowlers kick their opposite foot for more leverage (see Walter Ray Williams, Jr.), and this is fine, as long as your slide foot is solid and you do not step out.

Shoulders over sliding knee for balance.  At the foul line, your shoulders should be squarely over your sliding knee.  This gives your body the balance it needs to provide leverage into the shot.  

“Glide path” to a stuck landing.  If you are tall, or even medium sized, consider that it can be a long way down from your standing position to the slide position.  In this case, practice “coming in for a landing,” that is, get a little deeper with each step so that your head, if a line were drawn during your approach as viewed from the side, would look like an airplane on a glide path. 

Ouch, my knees!  I overheard Walter Ray Williams Jr. last year say that he wears a knee brace all the time.  “Do you have bad knees?” he was asked.  “No, I just want to maximize my knee bend and not get bad knees,” he answered.  This is a great lesson – consider a knee brace even if your knees don’t hurt.  I wear one!

Exercises.  Deep knee bends, squats, and squat thrusts are the best exercises to strengthen your knees, along with overall aerobic exercise that emphasizes the legs.  Biking, running, rowing, and other aerobic training can also provide great benefits for your bowling game!  

Conclusion.  Sticking the landing is fundamental to high scores.  Start sticking it today!