Everyone wants to learn how to be a better bowler, but most often we focus on what equipment we need or how to throw a consistent hook. I can say without a doubt that the most often overlooked area is implementing a warm up routine before our play or practice.
Proper stretching and warm up before any strenuous activity is important, and bowling is not different. There are some very simple exercises that you can do to get you warmed up before you bowl.
Hip Flexor - Bowling is a strenuous activity for the hips, especially the hip on the opposite side of the body as you throw from. To stretch the hip flexor's take a medium step forward with your left leg while keeping the right leg straight in a standing position. Begin bending the knee of the left leg. You should feel a stretch in the front area of the right hip. Keep your left foot beneath your left knee or slightly in front of it. Maintain the stretch for 10 seconds then repeat with the right leg.
Groin - The groin is another area that needs to be stretched to prevent serious injury while bowling. Begin by sitting on the floor, with the soles of your shoes together. While keeping your feet in place, holding the together if necessary, slowly move your knees down towards the ground. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and repeat. Do not bounce, instead use a slow, steady movement to prevent muscle injury.
Quadriceps - Be sure to support yourself during this exercise to maintain balance. Stretch your quadriceps grabbing your left foot with your left hand and pull your heel towards your buttocks. At the same time raise your left knew away from you and towards the sky. You should feel a good stretch the entire length of your quadriceps. Hole this position for 10 seconds and repeat. After stretching your left side turn your attention to the right.
Hamstring - To stretch your hamstring sit on the floor with both legs out in front of you. Both legs should be straight and flat. Begin stretching by moving your head towards your knees. Go as far as you can go and then hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise to thoroughly stretch your hamstrings.
Calf - To stretch out your calf muscle, stand a few feet from a wall and at shoulder level put both your hands on the wall. Step back with your right leg, keeping it straight, while the left knee bends. With both heels on the floor, lean forward by bending your left knee until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Lower Back - To stretch your lower back lie on the floor or another hard, flat surface. Using your left hand, slowly pull your right knee across your torso, while keeping your right shoulder on the ground. Hold and repeat on the other side.
Wrists - The wrist takes a lot of abuse in bowling, and is one of the areas of the most frequent injuries. To stretch your wrists, use your left hand to bend your right wrist backwards as far as you can until you feel a stretch in your wrist/forearm. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat with the other side.
While everyone wants to learn how to be a better bowler, few incorporate a stretching program in their pre-game routine. Stretching not only helps prevent injury, which keeps you bowling, but also warms up your muscles so that they can perform at their best. You may not be an Olympic athlete, but your muscles need the same type of attention to work properly and to help you bowl your best.
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