Bowling

Breakdowns: EJ Tackett

Fresh off his win at the WSOB, EJ Tackett has made quite the name for himself in recent years. I actually think EJ is the current best player in the world. He has an impressive delivery that hits home for a bowler like myself. He may not really match up to the physique of most bowlers, but I at least feel some connection when I see my info compared to his.



Name

Tim Gagne

EJ Tackett

Age

24

24

Height

5’8

5’7

Ball Speed

18*

18.593**

RPM

550*

572**

*Approximate through C.A.T.S. system

**These are found in the video and might not be exact.


We do have some major differences, I’m left handed primarily and he is right handed, I start further up on the approach, he’s a professional bowler with countless awards and qualifications and I’m… not! Even with these differences, not just me compared to him but even you compared to him, there are plenty of good things to pick up from EJ’s game.



The Push and Back Swing


In the video I provided, it requires some stopping, slowing down, and rewatching, but the angle is just good enough to see some key things. EJ has a five step approach. During his first step, he has no ball motion, it is simply a timing step to get his pace set. As soon as he begins to move for his second step, he pushes the ball like it is a roller coaster at the top of a hill. Roller coasters don’t have anything but gravity pulling it down to increase the speed down a hill. This is exactly what you as a bowler should be doing. Once the ball hits the free fall towards the back of the swing, you should not be using anything but leverage and gravity. No muscle should be put into the swing itself.


As the ball gets behind his right leg, a few things happen all at once to create that high, fluid swing for EJ. The ball swings behind him to the right, causing his body to open up. As his body is opening up, he also adds body tilt to create leverage. This leverage will result in more inertia in the ball’s motion. Also, he takes quick, long strides to create even more motion. Without going into the deep end of the physics behind this, these all add up to create a giant amount of energy pushing the ball up high above his head.


The Down Swing


At the top of his swing, gravity takes over again and starts to pull the ball down. You can see he looks to square himself back up to his target, creating an oval shape in the top of the swing and pulling the ball back inside of his body line. Still during this whole motion, he is not adding any muscle to the throw. His speed to the line, leverage of his body, and gravity combine to put a ton of force behind the ball. While he is in the final step and slide, he is slowing down his speed to a stop, allowing gravity to create a slingshot effect with his arm and the ball.


The Release


At the bottom of the release, his head is positioned right over where he is laying the ball down. His eyes and the ball are lined up right towards his target. His wrist position stays the same throughout and all he is doing is pulling up with his fingers at the point of release. If you slow down the video and view the slow motion release with it, you can actually see the point where his fingers pull up on the ball. At no point is he putting additional muscle into his swing through his arm. All his motion is created through his approach itself and pure science.


Takeaways


The biggest takeaway from watching EJ is seeing how little effort he needs to put into his swing. Creating a loose, free swing is difficult to master. EJ shows us the beauty in finding it. Let your arm be a pendulum and use leverage and gravity to create the rest.


Keys such as the timing step, the push, the solid hand position, and the lack of “muscling the ball” throughout the swing come together flawlessly to present an excellent approach from one of the game’s best. At release, having yourself balanced at the line and lined up over your target and ball is very important to creating consistency on the lanes.


Wrap Up


I know I will be taking notes and looking through his approach countless more times. It is a great plan to find a pro who is similar to your game so you can find what makes them better. Thankfully the PBA posts videos such as this one for a wide variety of bowlers at some of the major events. Don’t be afraid to do some research and see what makes these bowlers tick. If you have the access, get a video of yourself from a similar angle and compare the videos side-by-side or on top of each other. Take note of every detail and see if your game can be adapted to theirs. I would also be happy to take a look if I have the time to give some advice on what I see.
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