Keys To Consistency: Trail Leg

Consistency and the ability to repeat shots is a key to success in bowling. But, how can we attain such consistency? Is it just a matter of practice and countless hours of repetition? That is certainly a key component but, we must be practicing the right things in order to improve. Over a couple of articles I’ll spend some time discussing some key components in attaining consistency.

Kim Terrell-Kearney has always been known for her consistency from shot to shot. Notice Kim’s trail leg, it’s picture perfect.

When you boil it all down a key component to consistency is a balanced leverage position at the foul line. Balance is an important factor because it enables us to maintain a consistent release shot to shot. Balance and leverage are important and the goal is to consistently get your body into a position where you can apply forward momentum and power to your ball roll. There are several components to the proper finish position at the foul line. Let’s take a look at just one of those components.

Believe it or not your ball side leg  plays a tremendous role in balance and consistency. I’d be willing to bet that many reading this have never really thought about what their ball side leg does, what it is supposed to do, or its importance. It is so important, that’s the reason I’ve decided to start there and dedicate an entire article to it.

Parker Bohn III – The smooth lefthander makes generating leverage seem effortless. Notice his trail leg.

First, the ball side leg or “trail leg” as it is often referred to, should sweep past the non-ball side leg staying low to the floor. This motion does two things. It acts to distribute the uneven weight produced by the bowling ball which, of course, assists in maintaining balance. Next, by moving out of the way it enables the bowler to keep the swing path close to the body in a vertical line with the ball-side shoulder and the bowler’s head.As with most things in bowling, timing is everything. The proper time for the trail leg to begin its journey is when the bowler begins the downswing out of what is known as the “power step”. The Power Step is the last step where the bowler transfers momentum forward into the slide. When the ball passes the hip the trail leg’s heel should point to the non-ball side of the bowler. This subtle action allows the bower’s hips to open which gets them out of the way of the swing path. As the trail leg reaches its resting place on the bowler’s non-ball side, the heel is moved to point to the bowler’s ball side which causes the bowler to close the hips. The simple movement of the trail leg’s heel causes  torque in the swing, clears the hips from the swing path and aligns the bowler’s body to the shot line once complete.

Brian Voss – Another shining example of balance and leverage.

By keeping the trail leg low it enables the bowler to keep the shoulders back in a strong balance and leverage position. Two handed bowlers are an exception. Due to the contortion of the body necessary to deliver a ball with two hands, it is expected that the trail leg will be well off the floor.

The trail leg should settle into a position that forms a triangle between the floor (forming the base of the triangle) and the bowlers legs. There’s no magic perfect angle. Essentially, it should be a comfortable space between the trail letg’s knee and the non-ball side leg enabling the bowler to maintain good balance and does not hinder the follow through. It should be noted that the trail leg’s position should be past the non-ball side leg at about a 45 degree angle. Be careful not to over rotate your hips and avoid leaving your trail leg pointing straight back too! These two points bring about inconsistency and hamper balance and leverage.

The final balanced position at the foul line is referred to as “post position”. From a coaching perspective, we look to see if a bowler can hold a solid post position for the entire time the ball travels down the lane. If a bowler can accomplish this without strain and looks solid at the line, it’s a general indication they have achieved balance.

Well, that’s a lot to take in. But, I’ll bet some of you never realized the importance of your trail leg! As you can see there is a lot more to it than perhaps you realized and it does play a very important role.

Take some time to practice the ideas mentioned in this article and see if helps improve your consistency. Watch some really good examples of solid finish positions. Some bowlers who come to mind are Parker Bohn III, Kim Terrell-Kearney, Stephanie Nation, and Brian Voss. As always…have fun with it!


Fran Varin is a USBC Silver certified coach who coaches throughout Rhode Island. He is also a coach for the Rhode Island Flyers and Bryant University. He can be reached at

One response to “Keys To Consistency: Trail Leg

  1. Pingback: Keys To Consistency: Shoulder | Fran Varin's Blog

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