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Ball height during backswing and its influence on tenpin bowling performance
  1. R Razman1,
  2. P G Cheong2
  1. 1Sports Centre, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  2. 2School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia


In tenpin bowling, it is common for coaches to suggest that bowlers display a higher backswing in order to generate higher peak ball velocity during swing (PBvel). This stems from the assumption that the swing is akin to a pendulum, whereby the speed of the ball is dependent on the potential energy gained from its starting height. The primary objective of this study was to ascertain whether maximum ball height (BHNorm) during backswing is related to PBvel or bowling score average (BSave). The study also compared BHNorm between elite and backup bowlers. Participants were assigned into two groups based on their BSave over three tournaments, with those averaging above 200 pin falls placed in the elite group. There were 18 elite (M=10, F=8; BSave 213±7) and 12 backup bowlers (M=7, F=5; BSave 181±9). Ball height and velocity data were derived from Kwon3D system utilising four 100 Hz cameras. BHNorm was the vertical distance between the maximum ball height during backswing and the lowest point during swing, normalised to subject's height. PBvel was the maximum linear forward velocity of the ball near release. Participants aimed for a strike at each of the four trials, the mean scores were used. In terms of relationship to bowling performance, BHNorm had no significant (p<0.05) relationship to BSave (r=0.00) and PBvel (r=0.01). Comparisons of BHNorm between the elite and backup group also yielded no significant differences. Contrary to the popular notion that raising the ball higher will lead to higher release velocity, the height a ball is raised during backswing does not seem to correspond with higher ball speeds, nor does it relate to better bowling scores. The latter is supported by the fact that there was no significant difference in BHNorm between the different level bowlers. It can be suggested that the ball height during backswing is more of a choice of individual preference rather than the need to generate more ball speed.

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