Think about Targeting
Targeting, whether you think about shooting a rifle,
throwing a free-shot in basketball or golf, is about
alignment of three points. A basketball player
aligns their head, the ball and the target with
throwing free-shots. Shooting a rifle, you
align your eye, the near rifle sight, the far rifle
sight, and the target. In bowling, rather than
simply looking at a single point on the lane, aligning three reference
points leads to better accuracy, consistency, and
more successful bowling.
The ball exits the oil pattern, hooks, and enters
into the final roll phase of its travel in a
It is well known, as a result of ABC and USBC
studies, the ball's ideal entry angle into the pins
is 6°. A line drawn from the pocket at 6° and
back toward the foul line, indicates the ideal line
where the ball should enter the Roll transition in
toward the pocket. Knowing the point
(board position) at which the ball ends the skid, is
a reliable, stable predictor where the ball will
transition into the hook and roll phases of ball
In essence, the shorter the oil pattern, the shorter
the skid phase of the ball, and therefore, the
further away from the center of the lane where the
ball has to ideally enter into the roll phase.
Targeting is a matter of aligning a starting
position and a focal point. Evaluating our
current alignment is worthwhile only if it provides
guidance on how to proceed in the next shot.
The 3-Point Targeting System was developed, based on
research, to maximize the margin of error a bowler
experience, yet significantly improve their
consistency and scoring capability. The
3-Point Targeting System is an advanced lane play
targeting technique that best ensures more
consistent pocket shots, more strikes, and fewer
splits on any lane condition. In short, using
the 3-point system, you will less likely overplay
The 3-point targeting system uses three points
experienced as the ball travels down the lane: an
exit point, a focal point and a visual target.
Using three points, it is possible to visualize and
understand the path your ball takes.
Subconsciously, you will mentally improve your
technique and accuracy prior to each shot taken.
Point 1 - The Exit Point
The exit point is the board location where the ball
is at the end of the oil pattern. The exit point,
based on research, is the ideal board location where
the ball should exit the oil pattern to maximize the
chances of hitting the pocket as it turns inward
toward the pocket. The exit point
differs from the breakpoint. The breakpoint is
the point in the trajectory of the ball travel where
the ball makes its greatest change in direction. The
breakpoint is where the ball changes directions
inward toward the pocket. With that
distinction, let's focus on the exit point, a key
point used in targeting.
USBC studies suggest the "Rule of 31". The
team of engineers at USBC determined that
subtracting 31 from the total distance of the
pattern should tell you at what board the breakpoint
should be. In
its essence, the rule is based on the fact that the
longer the lane pattern, the deeper (more toward the
center of the lane) the breakpoint
will be. USBC research has determined that
subtracting 31 from the total length of the pattern
indicates the ideal board the ball exits the end
of the oil pattern. This is where the exit
point is located. The Rule of 31 states, for
example, that if the oil pattern is 37 ft long, the
exit point is the 6 board. If the pattern is
40 ft long, the exit point is the 9 board.
Point 2 - The Focal Point
The focal point is located at the end of the lane,
and together with the Exit Point, provides a guide
where to establish an appropriate launch angle and
When using a pin as a Focal Point, the position on
the pin used can be divided into 5 basic areas on
the pin. These five point roughly correspond
to the number of boards. When using the center
of the pin, the bowler uses this central point as 3.
When adjusting one board right, the bowler would use
the right base of the pin as the number 2.
When adjusting one board further, the bowler would
use the outside edge of the pin as a 1.
If a Focal Point adjustment is 1 board right, the
bowler would use the 2-point of the pin. If a
Focal Point adjustment is 2 boards left, the bowler
would use the 5 point on the pin. This
enhances the bowler's ability to make smaller, more
precise Focal Point adjustments.
Point 3 - The Visual Target
The visual target is the point where a bowler
focuses as they launch the ball outward. The
Visual Target, together with the Focal Point, and
Exit Point, guides where to best play the lane.
Using the Three Points (Exit Point, Focal Point, and
The bowler, aligning the three points, visualizes
the path through these three targets from the Focal
Point, through the Exit Point, to the Visual Target.
Step 1: Determine the Exit Point.
Determine your exit point based on the Pattern
Length in feet and the Rule of 31. Simply
subtract 31 from the length of the pattern.
For example, that if the oil pattern is 37 ft long,
the ideal Exit Point is the 6 board. If the pattern
is 40 ft long, the Exit Point is the 9 board.
The Exit Point is where the ball should exit the
oil, and begin the Hook Phase of the ball motion.
This point remains constant for a specific bowler
and lane pattern.
Step 2: Determine a Focal Point.
Mentally visualize a line extending from the exit
point to a pin location (a Focal Point). The
focal point pin location might be the 6 pin for
medium length patterns and medium oil depth.
The pin location might be the 3 pin for longer
patterns or heavier oil depth. The focal point
should be closer to the headpin for longer patterns
and heavier oil. The focal point should be
closer to the channel for shorter patterns, or
The focal point is primarily used to set an
appropriate launch angle when the ball is released.
Although the ball is launched and skids toward the
Focal Point, the intend is not to reach the Focal
Point, but to:
Launch the ball along an appropriate angle
toward the Focal Point, reaching the Exit Point,
and enter into the Hookp Phase of the ball.
Calm head motion in that the bowler's eye will
not move from the target outward to the pin
area. This increases a steady head
position during the approach and release.
Move the eye along a meaningful path from the
Visual Target through the Exit Point and outward
to the Focal Point. Scanning the 3-points
steadies eye movement along the intended path,
and increases focus. Instead of random eye
movement, eye movement is along the intended
path of the ball.
The Focal Point can be further refined using points
on a pin. The center of the pin can be
visualized as a "3". The base of the pin can
be visualized as "1" and "5".
Step 3: Determine a Visual Target.
Visualize an extended line from the Focal Point,
through the Exit Point, and select a visual target.
A suggested visual target should be closer to the
exit point on shorter patterns, and closer to the
arrows or dots for longer patterns. Many
advanced bowlers select visual targets between the
exit point and focal point, especially for more
complex lane patterns.
Step 4: Establish a Quiet Eye and a Calm Mind.
Achieving a quiet eye and mindset as part of your targeting
technique and relaxing your breathing enhances both
your accuracy and repeatability ... it calms the
mind. Developing a controlled focus on your
visual target allows your eye to reach a calm
without tension in what the most advanced athletes
call the quiet eye.
A Quiet Eye Is the Key To Improving Targeting
great deal of information is emerging from the world
of sport science research having important
implications in for improving the performance level
and promote enhanced repeatability in shot-making.
The results of this research fits in with the
3-Point Targeting System.
Research conducted on enhanced targeting techniques
such as the 3-point targeting system discussed
earlier also reveals a direct relationship of how
targets are viewed and performance levels. Most
skilled individuals, regardless of their pursuits,
learn how to harness their mental imagery, their
performance level rises. Regardless of the task at
hand, identifying methodologies of relaxing and
creating a quiet place with few distractions,
performance is enhanced. The connection between
performing and mental preparation is undeniable.
Research conducted by Dr. Joan Vickers, Director of
the Neuro-Motor Psychology Laboratory at the
University of Calgary, demonstrates how elite
athletes focus. In simple terms, when an athlete
learns how to fix their gaze in a relaxed, well
thought out manner, their ability to target
proficiently and more accurately. Measured visual
imagery enhanced less skilled individuals
significantly improves performance.
tennis and hockey players of varied skill levels
participating in this research were able to learn
where and how to best visually target, and how long
to focus at their targets. Specifically, they
learned how to mentally practice using these
techniques. Practice, after all, is practice,
regardless whether it is mental or physical.
Essentially, the harder you work before the shot,
the easier it will be to relax and perform more
accurately and consistently.
start the process, elite bowlers were asked to wear
a head mounted digital eye tracking system.
The eye tracking system measured the
point of the bowlers gaze (where they were looking),
and the motion of their eye relative to the head.
This eye tracking system measured their eye
positions and eye movement. This data was extracted
and recorded. These records of eye movements show
that the bowler's attention is usually held only by
certain elements of the intended area rather than a
specific target. The bowler’s eye movement
essentially reflects the human thought processes; so
the bowler’s thought are basically followed to some
extent from records of eye movement (the thought
accompanying the examination of the particular
Through a study of several sports, Vickers
discovered that there are significant differences
between how elite athletes use their eyes for
targeting as compared to less skilled players.
Specifically, elite athletes have far less eye
movements in their targeting and have a longer
sustained gaze on their targets.
athletes believed they were looking longer at a
single target. In reality, the eye tracking system
demonstrated that most athletes actually looked at
many things, and were unaware that they were not
focused. Bowlers, then mentally think they are
focused on a single target, when in essence, they
look at a target, where they want the ball to enter
the pins, and then at alternative targets,
distractions, and just plain wander around. During
a spare shot, your eyes instinctively look at each
pin, and possible targets and paths that will result
in hitting all of the pins. This instinctive action
causes a loss of focus. The bowler’s focus can be
disturbed by noises, other bowlers, and idle chatter
as well. Here is an example extracted from some of
the research done at the Neuro-Motor Psychology
Laboratory at the University of Calgary.
As one researcher stated, “It isn’t about aiming, it
is about dwelling.” This requires a purposeful
focus on increasing your gaze time on your target
and reducing your unconscious tendency of just
looking around without awareness. But how?
Enhanced focus on three points along the intended
path of the ball narrows the wandering of focus into
a narrow path rather than a wider area during
targeting. This is the key of calming eye movements
along a line rather than across an area. Narrowing
and calming eye movement results in more consistent
targeting, and accuracy.
Knowing How to Calm Your Focus.
A knowledgeable athlete knows their gaze is scattered around the target and not actually on
the target. Since you know you need to calm that wandering eye, consider the following process:
Once in the stance, the bowler’s heart rate
increases, and their breathing is shallower. As
they look out at the shot and their target, eye
tension increases. If you are that bowler, you can
actually feel the tension in your vision as you
focus on your target. Now the process of
implementing the quiet eye begins.
Step 1: Focus Where You Want the Ball To Go.
You know the ball is going to skid through the oil
up until it reaches the Exit Point. We’ve
determined that the Exit Point is the one point
research has shown to be stable throughout your
targeting process, and is exactly where you want the
ball to go. Hold your gaze on this point for a 2
full seconds or until you feel your eye relax.
Step 2: Move Your Focus to your Focal Point.
The Focal Point aligns the Exit Point with a point
on the pin deck (usually a point on a specific
pin). Allow time for your eye to relax. With
practice, you can feel that moment.
Step 3: Bring your eyes smoothly to your
Visual Target. At this point, do not look
anywhere other than the Visual Target. You need to
train yourself to move from the target down the lane
to a visual target without looking around. As
before, maintain your focus on this visual target
until you feel your eyes relax. As a side note, as
you smoothly move your focus from the Exit Point
toward the visual target, take a deep breath, and
slowly exhale. With practice this moment will
coincide with the relaxing of your eyes. And you
are ready to roll.
Step 4: Maintain your eye on the visual target
after the ball passes through it.
beginning of your approach until the ball passes
through your target, keep your eye on the visual
target. This will take practice as you will want to
immediately watch the ball. Work to keep your eye
remaining on your visual target after the ball has
gone past it. This will also help you improve your
finish position and leverage at the line.
Final Note: You are incorporating the
3-Point Targeting System with a Quiet Eye, so first
understand, and be comfortable with this system.
Simply hold the gaze on the focal point for 2
seconds, then the exit point for 2 seconds and
finally the visual target for 2 seconds before
starting your approach. Take a deep breath, and
slowly exhale, and then smoothly begin your
3-Point Targeting System with a Quiet eye has been
repeatedly demonstrated by the best athletes in the
world to improve performance and found in the elite
athlete of every sport. Focusing on implementing a
quieter eye into your routine can enhance the
consistency of your game.
This enhanced system can lead to better execution,
better shots, time after time.
athletes target more quietly, their brain waves are
more calm and in harmony whereas the less skilled
players are looking all around. This causes the
brain waves of these players to become disconcerted
or chaotic. These findings were particularly true
for the parts of the brain that control vision.
With less eye movements and longer target gaze
times, the process of targeting utilized by experts
in all sports revealed that quiet eye contributes to
keeping the athletes calmer. Specifically, in a
number of studies, athletes who held their gaze
longer also were calmer mentally and physically. In
one study, increased alpha waves were released in
the left hemisphere, reducing the analytical side of
Visualize the ball's trajectory line, pausing at
each point. Use a Quiet Eye technique together with
the three targeting points toward improving your
accuracy and increasing your repeatability.
The concept of the three-point targeting system is
to better understand, visualize and project your
ball toward a path from your launch point to the end
of the lane. Projecting your target outward
assists in visualizing the angle of your shot.
Using your defined points enhances visualizing the
path of your ball, and strengthening your
understanding of how to adjust the trajectory of the
When bowling on longer patterns, your lower and
upper body will be more square, and then adjust your
focal point closer to the head pin.
Conversely, for shorter patterns, open your lower
and upper body to increase the launch angle, and
then adjust your focal point closer to the channel.
Looking further down the lane will result in your
ball getting into a roll later. Looking closer
will get your ball in a roll earlier.
The Effectiveness of
the 3-Point Targeting with Quiet Eye System
Using the Quiet Eye to
3-Point Targeting for
Advanced Lane Play:For a Bigger Margin of Error
Using a Quiet Eye is
the Key to Improving Target Accuracy
change the lane conditions, but I can always adjust
the path to my destination.
Thanks for visting